This section is about the identification of those hazards, assessing how important they are and deciding what to do about them.

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1 Managing Hazards An OHS management system provides a framework for managing safety. One part or element of the OHS management system deals with the management of the hazards in the shearing shed. This section is about the identification of those hazards, assessing how important they are and deciding what to do about them. Hazard management involves the identification of hazards, the assessment of risk, the elimination or minimisation of risk and then the monitoring of risk controls. This process is summarised below. Hazard Identification Risk Assessment Risk Control Control Monitoring 4-1

2 Hazard Identification We use the term hazard everyday. But different people give the word different meanings. WorkCover define the term Hazard as anything (including work practices or procedures) that has the potential to harm the health and safety of a person. WorkCover says that Hazard Identification is therefore the process of recognising that a hazard exists and defining its characteristics. Another way to think of a hazard is as energy. Energies in sufficient quantities have the potential to cause harm. In the shearing shed it is the energy in the shearer and the sheep, the noise energy, the mechanical energy in the wool press and the grinder, the chemical energy in the pesticides and the electrical energy in the power plant that have the potential to cause harm. It is gravity (gravitational energy) that has the potential to make people fall. The range of shearing hazards, explained as energies is shown in Figure 3 below. The design and layout of the shed, the condition of the equipment, the work organisation and procedures and the skill levels of the people working in the shed all effect the chance or risk of the energies harming them. 4-2

3 Figure 3 Shearing Hazards as Energies BIOMECHANICAL Manual Handling, including shearing and handling sheep, wool bales, etc MECHANICAL Machinery such as wool Press, grinders, tractors CHEMICAL Hazardous Substances & Dangerous Goods including drenches, pesticides footrot control chemicals ELECTRICAL Trailing and damaged cables, leads & sockets, condition of power tools GRAVITY Objects falling or people at height, slips & trips NOISE & VIBRATION Is it difficult to hold a conversation at normal voice level? Does hand held equipment vibrate? PRESSURE Compressed air, gases, steam, hydraulic lines, gas cylinders, tyres THERMAL Hot/Cold equipment or environment, fire & explosion RADIATION Sunlight, welding, lasers, microwaves STRESS Work pressure, lack of control, monotony MICROBIOLOGICAL Infections such as Q Fever and personal and workplace hygiene Risk Assessment Like hazard, we use the term risk everyday and we often use the terms interchangeably. However, it is important to separate the terms, because we are surrounded by hazards (energies that have the potential to cause harm) and risk assessment enables us to decide whether some control measure is required or an existing control measure needs improvement. Risk is something we are constantly assessing, often without realising. 4-3

4 Risk is to do with the chance (probability) of a hazard causing harm and the seriousness of the harm. An example to make this clearer is in the box below. Hazard Identification & Risk Assessment A wool press has mechanical energy. There is sufficient energy in the press ram to cause serious harm to someone s arm if it is trapped between the ram and the press case. There is, therefore, hazardous energy in the press. If the press is unguarded, there is a reasonable chance that someone s hand or arm might be trapped. The seriousness or consequence of the arm being trapped will be great (e.g. amputation). Therefore we say the risk is high. However, if the press is guarded, we can say that the risk is low. If someone did manage to get their arm in to the machine the seriousness or consequence of the arm being trapped will be just as great but the chance of this happening is very low and therefore the risk is low. In both cases, we say that there is a hazard but the risk is different in each case. By thinking in this way, we focus on how well existing controls are reducing the risk. Risk assessment enables us to decide what we need to do to reduce the likelihood or the consequence of an incident or whether we are prepared to accept the risk. 4-4

5 Sometimes the likelihood and the consequence of something happening and the cost or difficulty of fixing something influence this decision. This is illustrated in the box below. Risk Assessment Accepting or Rejecting Risk A shearing contractor noticed a nail sticking out from the wall where a catching pen door had been tied back at some point. The chance of someone hitting the nail with their arm or back was moderately high but the consequence would just be a scratch. He wondered what the risk assessment would be and decided that the risk, on balance was low. But just because the risk is low, it doesn t mean we have to accept the risk! It is not worth undertaking a formal risk assessment for every hazard. Even though the consequence in this case would be very low, the remedy is so easy, the contractor should just fix it. Get a claw hammer and pull out the nail! In many cases if you identify a hazard and the remedy is easy, just do it! In many workplaces there are a number of hazards that require control. In some cases the control of hazards is straightforward and can be undertaken quickly. In other cases the hazard control measures might take longer to install. To help make a decision about what needs to be done, it is sometimes necessary to put the different hazards in order of importance, this is called hazard ranking or risk prioritisation. 4-5

6 A simple way to do this may be to put the hazards in the following categories: 1. Must fix before the start of shed 2. Fix as early as possible during shearing 3. Fix before the next shearing 4. Fix it when shed modifications are next made Having decided that there is a hazard present that needs to be controlled we prefer to use a safe place approach. Hazard Control You should adopt a safe place approach to control hazards. Safe person controls that rely on workers doing things differently, being safety conscious, working more safely and using personal protective equipment often don t work very well. Safe person controls need constant supervision and rely on training. Workers may cut corners because of pressure to get the job done in time and as they tire they might make mistakes. They may revert back to former methods or not adopt new methods for other reasons. Often protective equipment is uncomfortable and won't allow the worker to do the job properly, and ends up not being used. It is generally better to eliminate or reduce risks by methods other than safe person. In health and safety, people generally talk about a preferred order of hazard controls or a hierarchy of controls. An example of a preferred order of controls is provided below. 4-6

7 Elimination Preferred Order of Controls Elimination of the hazard must always be considered first. For a poorly designed and laid out woolshed with many built-in hazards it may be better to abandon the shed and use a neighbouring, safer, better shed or a trailer crutching station. Substitution Substituting the hazard that gives rise to the risk, with a hazard that gives rise to a lesser risk might be possible. For example, a new wool press may have reduced the hazards, even though there is still some risk. Changing a chemical for a less hazardous one will reduce the risk. Isolation Consider separating the hazard from people not involved in the work. This could be done with walls, screens or other barriers. Relocating machinery away from work areas reduces risks that may arise from noise or exhaust fumes. Engineering Controls Risk may be minimised by engineering means. Examples are guarding of machines, changing woolshed shearing board layout and improving pen and gate arrangements to eliminate bending and twisting during lifting and handling. Administrative Controls Minimising the risk by administrative means (e.g. by adopting safe working practices or providing appropriate training, instruction or information) will generally be the least effective. However, where such measures are considered the best option, it is important that all workers have appropriate orientation to the "rules" and are trained how to work safely within them. Personal Protective Equipment Personal protective equipment should be viewed as a last resort and only considered as an interim measure while investigation into more appropriate controls is undertaken. Personal protection places the onus of responsibility back onto the employee and is inconsistent with the safe place approach. 4-7

8 The preferred order of controls approach places safe place controls at the top of the list and safe person controls at the bottom. However, the list is not a set of mutually exclusive options. Often we mix and match control measures. For example, a wool press that has been guarded should only be operated by people who have been trained in the use of that particular press and its safety features. So training and instruction are an important part of many risk control measures. Also, risk controls may take time and it may be necessary to put interim controls in place while better, safe place, controls are arranged. Excellent examples of practical hazard control measures for the shearing shed are provided in the WorkCover NSW shearing safety guide. 4-8

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