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Crate to crate - A solution for cross loading cattle

Cross-loading (transferring) cattle between roadtrains is considered one of the most dangerous activities along the cattle transport supply chain, exposing workers to risks such as injury from falls from heights, crush injuries when working in tight spaces with unpredictable and large livestock and driver fatigue. This film showcases an industry-led solution to a work health and safety problem.

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LIZ SCHMIDT: The cattle industry in Queensland is the largest in the country. Whenever you get livestock involved in a work environment there are things that are unknowns.

GREG VINCENT: Live stock industry in Queensland has one of the highest fatality and injury rates of all industries.

BEN CORY: Cattle are obviously unpredictable animals.

KEITH BRIGGS: They don't even have to see you, they just hear something behind them and they kick. I've been kicked in the head before. - kicked right in the side of the head right there.

Onscreen text: Crate to crate - A solution for cross loading cattle

GREG VINCENT: The only reason we've got cross-loading is because of the National Road Transport legislation, where road trains as they get closer to populated areas, they have to be made smaller or changed to a different configuration.

PAUL RODNEY (Rodney's Transport Services P/L): We need the cross-loader to break down the six-deck trailers that we bring in on the road trains in from the west, to put them on the B-doubles or two-deck trailers to run them into the cities.

ROSS FRASER (Managing Director, Frasers Livestock Transport): There is more cross loading going on than ever before.

BEN CORY (Agforce): My aim as a cattle producer when shifting cattle is to get them to the end destination as stress-free as possible so we have a good product at the end, to do the movement as quickly and as efficiently as possible and obviously we'd like to do the whole process safely.

GREG VINCENT: The potential for injury usually occurs while someone's working at heights, the driver's fatigued or during the loading and unloading process.

LIZ SCHMIDT: Traditional cross-loading - it's been an issue that has needed to be addressed for some time.

ROSS FRASER: Traditionally it's - it's just being done by backing two trailers onto one another.

LIZ SCHMIDT (President, Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association): Cross-loading happens in every condition, rain, hail or shine.

PAUL RODNEY: The old-fashioned cross-loading method is used on the side of the road somewhere which becomes very unsafe for drivers, as well as the cattle.

ROSS FRASER: Drivers are clambering along the sides of trucks, holding onto crates with one arm and closing gates, pushing cattle up with the other.

ROSS FRASER: So, we came up with this concept to minimise the risk of injuries in our drivers and streamline the operation.

BEN CORY: If they're loading better, there'll be no stress on the bloke doing it and there'll be no stress on the animal.

ROSS FRASER: So we decided that we'd come up with our own design and build it with the workplace health and safety aspect in mind.

I had a conversation with our fleet manager, Mark Collins, and he and then in turn talked to our boilermaker and they came up with the design, and we did it in our own workshop.

KEITH BRIGGS: It's not rocket science, but it's something that should've been around years ago

MARK COLLINS: We sat down and did up a basic drawing, coming up with a two-decker cross-loader platform idea that we're able to side unload road-trains at and reverse our B-double onto.

ROSS FRASER: During the construction, we consulted some our drivers who had some really good input, which forced us to change a few things.

MARK COLLINS: The input from the drivers was the need to be able to work this from the outside, trying to keep them separated from the cattle.

ROSS FRASER: We can minimise the risk significantly with this cross-loading ramp.

PAUL RODNEY: The idea of the cross-loader is the drivers can manoeuvre around without getting injured and be standing free from the cattle.

GREG VINCENT: The new cross-loading system provides a safe environment both for the cattle and for the drivers or workers.

KEITH BRIGGS: It's simple. If you know anything about loading cattle, it's as simple as it gets.

ASHLEY DALEY (Rytrans Manufacturing Pty Ltd): Look, the whole process and development of the cross-loader, was based on an outline of what Frasers had. We thought it was a great idea and so did a lot of other people in the industry and that's when we were approached by Peter Rodney, at Rodney's Transport to build one for him. We spoke pretty in-depth with Frasers regarding the unit and they were very proactive in helping us out and highlighting areas of improvements that could be made.

MARK COLLINS: Some of the major design features we applied to the system is making sure that the drivers had a safe platform to work on, so there was no tripping involved.

MARK COLLINS: Expanded mesh was a good option for traction on the driver's boots.

LIZ SCHMIDT: There are handrails. There are safety gates. There are platforms that go from one trailer to the other. The truck can pull up and nothing moves.

MARK COLLINS: We incorporated sliding gates at the unloading side of the ramp and to close the cattle off quickly once they entered the new trailer.

GREG VINCENT: The system also has solar powered lighting; the facility can be utilized 24 hours a day in any type of weather conditions.

MARK COLLINS: Some of the considerations that we put in the cross-over platform was to enable the drivers to able to cross-load top and bottom at the same time which obviously cuts out our cross-loading time down by a half.

ASHLEY DALEY: Some of the design considerations involved in the manufacturing process of the cross-loader was trying to build it to an Australian standard including safety rails, non-slip flooring, ladders and access to the unit.

LIZ SCHMIDT: At the end of the day, we'd like to have one everywhere, there's livestock that's cross-loaded.

GREG VINCENT: Industry has taken the proactive step and gone forward and solved their own problem. They have identified the issue and have come up with the solution.

LIZ SCHMIDT: On the whole, this is a proactive initiative. This is about understanding that it can be difficult and it can be dangerous so in a proactive way, we have decided to do something before there are really bad injuries, uh just to make sure that things are better for our people.

GREG VINCENT: Certainly, the cross-loader minimizes the risk of injury to the workers. It's a far better outcome than what has been out there and what is still occurring out there.

BEN CORY: I think the biggest benefit to the industry with the cross-loader is the efficiency of moving cattle.

PAUL RODNEY: The industry's reacted really well, especially from our customer base. They've really enjoyed seeing how the cattle are transported from one trailer to another and the safety and ease of use for workers to be able to do it at night time and day time.

LIZ SCHMIDT: The livestock and rural transport associations across the country continue to lead in these areas of safety and proactively being involved in workplace health and safety issues.

GREG VINCENT: I hope the industry will take a leadership with this and move forward and have this new innovation put at major cattle facilities throughout Queensland.

LIZ SCHMIDT: In terms of the larger operators, I think there's an opportunity for them to put them in their own yards

GREG VINCENT: Certainly Fraser's and Rodney's Livestock Transport Organisations are ahead of the game. They're very proactive in worker safety.

ROSS FRASER: It's really, really surprising how much interest it has created and we're proud to be a part of it.

ASHLEY DALEY: Look, we are very proud to be able to be involved in promoting safety, but also be involved in helping the industry come up with a standard that's recognised Australia-wide to help the industry promote and produce a safer environment for their employees and drivers.

LIZ SCHMIDT: I get excited about it because it's something that has been on the drawing board in somebody's mind across the country for a long time and now it's there. It's actually - You can touch it and you can deal with it and you can use it.

Onscreen text:
Work safe. Home safe. Visit

Credit screen:
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland thank the following organisations and people for their participation in this film.
Frasers Livestock Transport
Rodneys Transport
Rytrans Manufacturing
Vermont Pastoral
Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association
Liz Schmidt
Ross Fraser
Mark Collins
Keith Briggs
Paul Rodney
Ben Cory
Ashley Daley
Greg Vincent

Filmed in Warwick and Toowoomba, Queensland.
Directed and produced by The Story Boxes

RUNTIME: 7 min 32s