The purpose of these guidelines provide advice on how to keep people safe in the shearing industry.
- Be aware of your responsibilities in and around the shearing shed.
- Check shearing and crutching equipment regularly.
- Use correct techniques when manually handling and shearing sheep.
- Always wash and dry hands after contact with sheep to avoid diseases humans can catch from animals (zoonoses).
Key concepts to understand before reading these guidelines
What and who is a PCBU?
A ‘PCBU’ refers to a person conducting a business or undertaking. A PCBU can be an individual such as a farmer or independent shearer, or an organisation (eg a company).
The difference between a PCBU and a worker
There is a clear difference between a PCBU and a worker when the PCBU is a company or organisation. However, when an individual person is a PCBU, (eg self-employed) the difference may be less clear.
When a self-employed person is working for themselves, eg a self-employed shearer (who dictates how their work is done and creates, and controls, risks) they are a PCBU. However, if a self-employed person is working for another PCBU (eg a contractor who controls what they do and how and when they do it) then they are a worker under that PCBU.
Example: Zac, a self-employed shearing contractor, has agreed to help out his mate Fabian who runs a shearing team. Both are PCBUs. Because Zac is going to be working for Fabian and Fabian will be controlling what, when, and how he works, even though he is a PCBU himself, Zac would be treated as a worker because Fabian is determining the work and controlling the risks that arise from that work.
What does reasonably practicable mean?
The term ‘reasonably practicable’ appears throughout HSWA. ‘Reasonably practicable’ is used to qualify duties to ensure health and safety.
There is no such thing as zero risk. The PCBU is not expected to guarantee the safety of their workers and others from work activities. Instead, PCBUs are held to a ‘reasonably practicable’ standard.
It is a judgement call the PCBU must make. It involves weighing a risk against the resources (time and cost) needed to manage it.
Something is reasonably practicable if it is, or was, at a particular time, reasonably able to be done to ensure health and safety, having weighed up and considered all relevant matters, including:
- How likely is a hazard or risk to occur?
- How severe could the harm that might result from the hazard or risk be?
- What the person concerned knows or ought to reasonably know about the hazard or risk and the ways of eliminating or minimising the risk (eg by removing the source of the risk or using control measures such as isolation or physical controls to minimise it).
- What measures exist to eliminate or minimise the risk (control measures)?
- How available and suitable is the control measure(s)?
Lastly weigh up the cost:
- What is the cost of eliminating or minimising the risk?
- Is the cost grossly disproportionate to the risk?
For more information see the WorkSafe website.