National Farmers' Federation

Shed safety campaign focusses on cutting out drug and alcohol misuse

Shearing sheds are an iconic part of Australian life. But they can also be dangerous workplaces. A new campaign, including the National Farmers’ Federation, is aiming to make Aussie shearing sheds safer. Woolgrowers, shearing contractors and members of shearing teams are reminded of their responsibility to maintain a drug and alcohol free shed, as part of a new industry-wide initiative to improve shed safety. The shearing industry stakeholder group has developed a number resources including a shearing shed poster to communicate the expectations of all shed workers, to meet their safety obligations. A comprehensive policy document also sets out industry procedures for dealing with drug and alcohol misuse in the shearing workplace. The group includes representatives of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia (SCAA), WoolProducers Australia (WPA), Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) and Western Australia Shearing Industry Association (WASIA), and is supported by the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) WoolProducers Australia (WPA) Executive Officer Jo Hall said shed safety as a critically important issue. “Australia is the world’s number one producer of premium quality wool and is the largest producer of all wools by value and volume. “It is important that work practices reflect our status as the best.” Ms Hall said woolgrowers had a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure a safe work environment. Woolgrowers and contractors are encouraged to apply the template drug and alcohol policy that has been developed by the group, including prohibiting the working of those under the influence of substances consumed elsewhere.” Shearing Contractors Association of Australia Secretary Jason Letchford said contractors shared many of the responsibilities of growers and had a key role to play in ensuring shed workers understand what is expected of them. “Shed workers must turn up fit for work, take reasonable steps to protect theirs and their fellow workers safety and adhere to workplace health and safety processes and policies.” Mr Letchford said when it came to drug and alcohol misuse, the shearing industry was not alone in its challenges. “The full extent of the presence of substance misuse in the shearing industry is not known, but nevertheless, this industry is encouraging anyone who is doing the wrong thing to clean up their act.” The policy document and shed poster are partly the result of a conference the group hosted in Adelaide during May to discuss the issues surrounding drug and alcohol misuse in the industry. At the conference, participants were given an opportunity to listen to experts in the area and discuss the issues that arise on the ground. The shearing industry stakeholder group is now considering whether there is scope for looking at safety in the shearing industry more broadly. The poster, sponsored by AWTA, has been distributed in Australian Wool Innovation’s Beyond the Bale publication, distributed to all levy-paying growers and is available for download here https://farmers.org.au/news-updates/nff-news/Shearing-shed-safety-campaign-focusses-on-cutting-out-drug-and-alcohol-misuse.html.html

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