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JBS Australia, Northern Division

Category seven – Best demonstrated leadership in work health and safety

JBS Australia, Northern Division have designed and built a double deck livestock trailer fitted with a pneumatically operated handrail system, similar to other operational systems on tanker trailers. They built this system following extensive consultation with livestock drivers and Rytrans Manufacturing, a trailer manufacturer.

The handrail system works by allowing the handrails of the livestock trailer to lift up and lock in place when activated. This provides a fall protection for drivers of the livestock trailers when they access the top tier of the trailer. The handrails fold down when they are not in use, making them the same overall height of the trailer when down.

The handrail system is an industry first for livestock trailers and limits the risk of falls from heights, for example when top livestock crates are accessed by the drivers. The handrail system is integrated into the design of the livestock trailer and can be easily activated by the driver in all parked locations.

JBS Australia, Northern Division has demonstrated their leadership and commitment to providing a safe workplace for all employees. The handrail system is being implemented to all livestock trailer fleet. This is the beginning of their risk control processes. JBS are continuing to work towards other safety innovation and design processes to provide a safer working environment.

Anthony Pratt, Chief Operating Officer

JBS is a global business, but focusing here on the Australian arm of the business, we've got a beef business, lamb business, pork business, our Primo value-added business, but you know, our beef business remains the biggest business in this country and one that a lot of resources are focused on every day.

The invention came about because the biggest focus on safety in our business at the moment is the interaction between people and animals.

You've got people four and a half metres off the ground walking along a narrow plank on the top of a livestock crate, in unstable conditions, live animals beneath them, they potentially fall off the side of the truck onto the ground, you know, very dangerous situation and unpredictable, and that's probably, you know, one of the key points is that, you know, trying to provide protection for that unpredictable environment.

So the devices are pneumatically operated by the truck driver, can only be operated while the truck is stationary and it cuts out that ability for truck drivers to fall off the crates and into the cattle, which has been a problem for industry now, you know, really since the movement of cattle began.

Senior management was involved, in the sense that we really did recognise that the interaction between people and animals was a huge area of our business and that if we were really gonna improve our safety performance, that was gonna be one of the top areas that we had to focus on.

You know, the drivers were sceptical, like all people are with change, and, you know, you get that mentality, that, "Listen, we've done it like this forever. Why do we need the change?"

But I think the success was getting them in early with the prototype and getting them to work with us and tell us what worked, what didn't, what will make it easier for them to operate it. That was probably the key to success in that they had that buy-in, you know, it became their idea as time went on.

Their ownership over the final result, I think, was critical in the implementation and ultimately the success. So seeing our team come together and find solutions to issues like this is very rewarding.

You know, we've got a lot of trucks and, you know, we move a lot of livestock, so the implementation of this was not a small investment. So I think that's helped the culture where people look at that and say, "Yeah, the company's fair dinkum about our safety."

We've all got families that expect us home at night and, you know, that's a real commitment that we have within the business, that we need to get our people home at night safely and in the same condition they came to work in the morning.