People working in the beef cattle industry are exposed to a range of potential injury hazards.
These hazards include:
- plant, for example, equipment including quad bikes, motorcycles, vehicles, aircraft and tractors
- animal behaviour, for example, cattle in yards, paddocks, loading and unloading, mustering with horses
- mustering in rough, timbered areas or flooded terrain
- hazardous manual tasks, such as lifting, veterinary practices
- animal diseases, such as Q-fever and other infectious diseases
- chemicals such as veterinary medicines and pesticides, including drenches
- heat stress and skin cancer from working outdoors
- stress and fatigue
- worker skill – understanding animal behaviour and decision making
- falls from horses, quad bikes and motorcycles
- property maintenance, such as fencing, windmills and vegetation management.
Finding and fixing safety problems in handling cattle
A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has a duty to manage risks to the health and safety of workers and others. Good workplace health and safety can have a direct cost benefit in ensuring productivity and performance of the organisation.
The PCBU must manage risk to health and safety by identifying all reasonably foreseeable hazards and apply a control measure that is reasonably practicable to implement. These control measures must be reviewed to ensure they remain appropriate to the health and safety needs.
Best practice in WHS requires a mix of control measures for high risk activities. Control measures such as stockyard design or culling cattle with a bad temperament can be far more effective than changing other systems. However other potential risks shouldn't be ignored to offer you the best means of preventing injury.
A workplace that has a good safety culture usually has less incidents or accidents, which in turn will reduce costs associated with higher workers compensation premiums, loss of productivity due to hiring or re-training of additional staff and ongoing medical costs. It's more likely to result in a good workplace culture and retention of skilled workers.
When cattle handling:
- make use of facilities and aids such as head bails, branding cradles and drafting canes
- build stockyards and sheds strong enough and of a size to match the cattle being handled
- avoid sharp, blind corners and ensure gates are well positioned
- keep facilities in good condition and free from rubbish
- use cattle crushes, head bails and cradles to restrain cattle.
- maintain yards in a non-slippery state.
Safe loading and unloading of cattle
In Queensland there have been many incidents where workers have been seriously or fatally injured during the loading and unloading of cattle.
All staff need to be fully trained in the correct use of rural plant such as:
- cattle crushes
- calf cradles
- loading ramps
- quad bikes, motorcycles, vehicles, aircraft and tractors.
All plant should be maintained in good working order.
The selection of cattle handling devices such as cattle crushes can greatly improve the safety of cattle and their handlers.
Find our more about plant, machinery and equipment.
Diseases from animals (Zoonotic diseases)
Some animal diseases can be transmitted to humans, such as Leptospirosis and Q-fever.
Control of animal parasites may involve handling hazardous chemicals. Exposure to hazardous chemicals may occur by absorption through skin, inhalation or from ingestion.
The risk can be increased by the poor decanting practices, storing chemicals in unlabelled or common drink containers and handling articles such as cigarettes or clothing with contaminated hands.
There is also the risk of breathing in vapours or fumes when applying, cleaning, decanting or mixing of substances. Chemicals must be handled in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications and copies of the safety data sheets (SDS) must be readily available to staff.
The use of veterinary products (antibiotics) requires skilled and competent staff to minimize the risk of needle stick injury and incidental exposure of the substance to workers.