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Health & safety - Livestock transport


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The health and safety of livestock transport workers is at risk during the loading, checking and unloading of stock and can result in series injuries or death. Between 2003 and 2015 there were 583 work-related road freight transport fatalities (Safe Work Australia).

High risk situations can also occur on farms and roadsides, saleyards, feedlots, spelling yards, abattoirs, and depots.

Livestock transport operators, primary producers, stockyard and abattoir owners/operators along with those in control of these workplaces must ensure the health and safety of its workers, including contractors.

All workers must either be trained in or have an adequate understanding of animal behaviour and livestock control procedures. This enables handlers to complete animal husbandry tasks more quickly and easily, with less risk of injury to both the handler and the animal.

The health and safety risks associated with livestock transport can be reduced by adhering to other precautions such as:

  • safe design, installation and maintenance of livestock yards, ramps and gates at farms, stockyards and abattoirs
  • safe design, selection and maintenance of livestock crates and trailers
  • maintaining all plant and equipment in a safe working condition
  • ensuring transport companies possess drivers with appropriate knowledge and skills in animal husbandry to load and unload livestock
  • installing fall prevention equipment with associated safe work and rescue procedures
  • providing a safe working environment, particularly the separation of people and livestock
  • use of safe workplace practices
  • consultation with workers when identifying safety risks and prevention measures
  • having an incident/hazard reporting process in place and following up with actions to maintain safety
  • training workers in the use of new or supplied safety equipment
  • provision of adequate information, instruction and training to workers.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is another tool in preserving a safe working environment. However having the gear isn’t enough, as it is important for everyone to also be aware of the requirements for the use of PPE while on sites such as:

  • safety harnesses
  • suitable footwear
  • sun protection
  • high visibility vests.

It is a requirement that the equipment stays clean, in good working order and used accordingly to manufacturer’s specifications.

Fall arrest harnesses are one of the least preferred controls. Engineering and design solutions that prevent a worker falling are effective, long term solutions to prevent injuries resulting from falls from height.

Additional information

The below resources provide further information surrounding work health and safety in the livestock transport.

  1. National Guidelines for Ramps and Forcing Yards
  2. Road freight transport – Livestock transport – Crates and trailers
  3. Agriculture Industry – Livestock Transport – Yards, ramps and gates
  4. Prevention of falls in the transport of Livestock
  5. Code of Practice – Managing the Risk of Falls at Workplaces
  6. Code of Practice – Managing the Risk of Plant in the Workplace
  7. Code of Practice – How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks
  8. Code of Practice – Work Health and Safety Consultation, Co-operation and Co-ordination