Wool harvesting training, drug and alcohol testing in the workplace and hearing loss were some of the topics discussed at the New Zealand Wool Classers Association field day at Omakau last week.

About 35 people who are employed by shearing companies in the area attended the event on July 12.

Former world champion shearer Tom Wilson, of Elite Shearer Training, talked about the need for industry support and funding to establish a wool harvesting training body.

He also talked about the need for discussion about introducing a wool levy, which would raise money for research and training.


''A lot of farmers are concerned about the lack of woolharvesting training,'' he said.

''Funding issues are major part of it,'' he said.

Worksafe New Zealand health and safety inspector Lynn Carty outlined various health and safety issues in wool sheds, including diet and how easy it was to catch leptospirosis.

In addition, she warned the audience about having loud noise levels in the workplace.

She said as a rule of thumb, anything louder than 85 decibels in the workplace was too loud, and if that went on for eight hours a day, every day, then their hearing would be damaged permanently.

It was important for employers to provide hearing protection and important for employees to wear it.

PGG Wrightson's South Island wool procurement manager Rob Cochrane discussed the importance of preparing crossbred wool properly.

He said there were issues with overweight fadges, and poor preparation.

''We are seeing a lot of variation with fleece,'' Mr Cochrane said.

''It is important to keep like with like [i.e similar lengths etc].

''We are still seeing badly pressed bales, and you need to make sure the bales are marked properly.''

They were seeing second-hand fadges coming through with unclear or multiple markings.

''It is also important to keep wool within the 200kg weight limit in bales.

''We recently had a line of 40 bales and 39 were over 200kg.''

He said they had to repacked and that meant incurring additional costs, which could be borne by the farmers.

The Drug Detection Agency representative Greg Ronald outlined the process of collecting samples from staff for workplace testing.

He said the company also provided drug and alcohol policy design and education services in addition to drug and alcohol testing in the workplace.

He said that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), from cannabis was the one of the most common findings in tests, although methamphetamine was also a increasingly common result.

-By Yvonne O'Hara

Southern Rural Life