Safe sheep shearing - fact sheet
Back injuries, sprains, strains and hand wounds are the leading injuries associated with shearing sheep1. These can be avoided by using the correct techniques when manually handling sheep and regularly checking and maintaining shearing equipment.
- 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.
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 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.
Health and safety legal requirements
The primary duties of a PCBU include:
- providing and maintaining a safe work environment, safe plant and structures and safe systems of work
- providing any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect everyone from the health and safety risks at work.
- take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that their actions or inactions do not harm the health and safety of others
- co-operate with any reasonable health and safety policy or procedure of the PCBU notified to them and comply with any reasonable instruction given by the PBCU (e.g. using personal protective equipment).
Table of risks
|Manually handling sheep||
|Shearing and crutching||
|Diseases humans can catch from animals||