Woolgrowers and contractors will be encouraged to prohibit workers from sheds if found to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol under a new industry policy released this week.
The shearing industry stakeholder group has developed resources, including a shearing shed poster, to communicate important expectations of all shed workers to meet the safety obligations.
The group includes representatives of the National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Workers’ Union, Shearing Contractors Association of Australia, WoolProducers Australia, Australian Wool Exchange and Western Australia Shearing Industry Association, and is supported by the Australian Wool Testing Authority.
The policy document also sets out industry procedures for dealing with drug and alcohol misuse in the shearing workplace.
The policy states that random drug and alcohol screening will be an option for employers and supervisors, and if a drug and alcohol screening is refused without reasonable explanation in accordance with the policy, it will be considered a positive result.
The policy and wool shed poster are part of a new industry-wide initiative to improve shed safety by reminding growers, shearing contractors, shearers and shed staff of their responsibility to maintain drug and alcohol-free workplaces.
WoolProducers Australia executive officer Jo Hall said shed safety was a critically important issue.
“Australia is the world’s number one producer of premium quality wool and is the largest producer of all wools by value and volume,” she said.
“It is important that work practices reflect our status as the best."
Ms Hall said woolgrowers had a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure a safe work environment.
Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said contractors shared many of the responsibilities of growers and had a key role to play in ensuring shed workers understand what is expected of them.
“Shed workers must turn up fit for work, take reasonable steps to protect theirs and their fellow workers safety and adhere to workplace health and safety processes and policies,” he said.
Mr Letchford said when it came to drug and alcohol misuse, the shearing industry was not alone in its challenges.