Key points

  • Use correct technique when manually handling sheep.
  • Check shearing and crutching equipment regularly.
  • Never use an unsecured grinder.
  • Always wash and dry hands after contact with sheep to avoid diseases humans can catch from animals.
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The purpose of this information sheet is to help reduce the risk of injuries by providing practical guidance on how to manage various sheep- shearing risks. Contractors who shear or crutch thousands of sheep each year are at high risk of injury but generally have the technique, fitness and equipment care practices to manage the risks. Farmers who shear and crutch as a seasonal task, rather than full-time, are at risk through less-practiced technique, poorly-maintained gear or not physically being prepared for the task.

Many shearing injuries are a result of poor technique when handling sheep or using badly maintained equipment. People inexperienced in handling sheep should be trained and supervised to maintain animal welfare and production standards, and to avoid being harmed.

Accepted Good Practice

Shearers need to be aware of the risks when manually handling and shearing sheep and ensure they follow good practice guidelines. WorkSafe has worked with the shearing industry to produce the good practice table below.

The Law

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) is New Zealand’s work health and safety law. The act requires that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers.

The duties of a PCBU apply to all work activities and places work is carried out on a farm.