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Death spurs SafeWork NSW livestock transport warning

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Incident report issued after driver loading cattle was fatally crushed by bull

Death spurs SafeWork NSW livestock transport warning
Image of the loading ramp involved in the incident


Work health and safety authority SafeWork NSW has shone a light on the dangers of livestock transportation, issuing an incident report following the death of a truck driver who was struck by a bull.

On August 6, a 69-year-old contract transport driver sustained fatal crush injuries in north western NSW.

The worker was loading cattle onto a single deck trailer cattle transporter when a bull turned to exit the truck and pinned him against the race wall, SafeWork explains.

SafeWork NSW inspectors responded to the incident and have been investigating the cause and circumstances of the incident.

The incident report asks operators to consider ‘reasonably practicable’ control measures to manage the risk of being crushed, kicked, trampled or gored.

"If you work with cattle during loading or unloading you are at greater risk of being injured when: you are inside the confines of the loading ramp (either behind or in between the cattle); you put your limbs through the bars of the ramp to move the cattle up or down the ramp."

Handlers must anticipate unpredictable animal behaviour when animals are in confined situations during loading, particularly when loading cattle by ramp, SafeWork notes.

These measures include:

  • train workers to perform the task safely
  • design the loading ramp to accommodate the size and flow of the cattle
  • ensure the width of the loading ramp is appropriate to the breed or class of cattle that will be negotiating the ramp
  • ensure the slope of the loading ramp is not too steep
  • put sheeting or panels along the walls of the loading ramp (sheeted panels make the cattle focus on the ramp exit and eliminate other distractions, sheeting also prevents your legs getting caught)
  • use a non-slip material on the floors of the ramp that does not vibrate or create noises likely to startle the animals
  • use a catwalk and handrail alongside the ramp to help handlers move cattle at a safe distance
  • fix a sliding gate at the top of the ramp that can be safely used to secure animals on the truck once it is loaded
  • employ ‘low stress’ livestock handling techniques during loading or unloading.

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