A new online injury prevention programme for farmers and shearers will improve productivity in the woolshed as well as reduce injuries and improve safety, says Napier shearing contractor Brendan Mahony.
Tahi Ngatahi is a web-based training programme which aims to improve safety and performance in the wool growing and wool harvesting industry, and is being introduced to Hawke's Bay farmers and shearers next Wednesday at the Napier War Memorial Conference Centre, from 10am.
A collaboration between Federated Farmers and the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association, it has the backing of government agencies. ACC has provided $1 million over three years for programme development, with WorkSafe also a partner.
In 2017 there were 755 work-related injuries in wool harvesting, resulting in 9300 working days lost, according to ACC weekly compensation data. The same year there were 4700 work-related injuries in wool growing, resulting in 35,000 days lost to the industry.
Tahi Ngatahi includes more than 30 videos featuring industry people explaining what's worked for them to make a safe environment, and covers topics for shearers, farmers, wool handlers, pressers and those penning up the sheep.
Mahony, a New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association executive member, says the videos teach everyone about their role in creating a safe workplace. "Tahi Ngatahi means one, together and we believe we can prevent injuries by helping the whole team understand each other's roles in and around the shed.
"It's a great resource for everyone in the industry, including farmers and staff who use a shearing contractor or have an open shed, or do some shearing or crutching over the year. While a lot can shear, they may be able to improve their approach so they don't injure themselves."
Shearers and their staff who complete the programme receive a certificate. Shearing contractors can show farmers their staff are Tahi Ngatahi certified, while farmers can also complete the digital woolshed "Warrant of Fitness" to ensure their shed is compliant.
Farmers in the videos explain the importance of having good health and safety practices, maintaining the shearing shed and preparing the sheep well for shearing.
Sheep and beef farmer William Beetham is passionate about building good processes in his business and supports the new programme. "The first thing is recognising that you have got to make a start with health and safety.
"It is actually really easy and it makes things run more efficiently. Most farmers would be surprised just how much better off your business would be just spending a little bit of time getting those systems in place."
Dave Sargenson has been shearing for 40 years but says staying in his occupation a long time is not common. "Shearers have not lasted that well, but if there were better health and safety practices many would have been able to shear longer," he says.
A day's shearing uses the equivalent energy of running a marathon. The programme emphasises the importance of shearers eating and hydrating well, strengthening and stretching their bodies, and getting enough sleep.
Tahi Ngatahi is being introduced to farmers and shearers at a series of meetings.¦