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Shearing Industry: Our COVID-19 ‘destiny’ is in the hands of the workers

The Shearing Contractors Association Australia (SCAA) have reminded members and their staff that the industry will only be able to continue to operate through this COVID-19 crisis based on every individual making their best efforts to stay distanced, maintain ‘over the top’ levels of hygiene and remember to avoid contact with others and their belongings.

Last week the SCAA worked with other industry peak bodies such as Wool Producers Australia, Australian Wool Exchange, Sheep Producers Australia ( SPA) Western Australian Shearing Industry Association (WASIA) and the Australian Workers Union, to assemble guidelines for the industry to operate under, in these current circumstances. “The uptake of these procedures has been tremendous with no reports of any shearing operations not making their best endeavours to implement these procedures immediately. Wool growers have been highly supportive and are doing their best to ensure safety of workers is paramount” said Michael Schofield, President of the SCAA.

“That said, it has come to our attention, that individuals are having significant ‘lapses’ in being able to maintain these distancing and hygiene practices. From the moment they wake up, through to the time that they go to bed each day, all of us need to be mindful of how we interact”

“It’s one thing for employers to set-up systems and work procedures that comply with the new standards, however the strength of the system is only as good as the weakest point. Therefore, when you hear of people sharing cigarettes, lighters, teaspoons at smoko, going home and visiting a mate on the way, are all things that will bring the industry unstuck.”

“We have already seen ‘near misses’ in Hay this week and in parts of South Australia last week. The industry is quite concerned with ensuring they are regarded as an Essential Service but the more important aspect that we have overlooked up until now is we will not be able to work for weeks at a time, if just one member of a shearing team has been in contact with the virus directly or indirectly” said Mr Schofield.

He also reminded us that there is no limit to how many times this winter and beyond, that a shearing team might have to stop and be isolated, before a vaccine is on the market. This inconvenience and economic cost are not even accounting for the stress of contracting it and the life-threatening potential this virus will have on families and communities, if we all don’t stay mindful.

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For further information contact
Jason Letchford
Secretary
Shearing Contractors Assoc of Australia
0412600586
www.scaa.org.au