How LPA can help keep your staff safe

How LPA can help keep your staff safe

11 April 2023
-Min Read
Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) is critical when it comes to highlighting hazards for livestock, but it can also help keep your employees and workplace safe too.

Staff at saleyard

Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) is Australia’s on-farm assurance program covering food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity – but did you know it can also help identify workplace health and safety (WHS) hazards? The best practice methods used to meet WHS regulations are the same methods that underpin the success of LPA.

LPA and work health and safety

Many on-farm hazards that can affect the safety of livestock can also affect farm workers, such as:

  • chemical contaminants – pest control, crop treatments, paints, asbestos
  • biosecurity hazards – exotic diseases
  • physical hazards – wire, buckshot, old buildings
  • veterinary equipment and medications
  • extreme weather conditions
  • machinery complications – breakdown, maintenance, safety issues.

These risks are not only dangerous – they can be fatal.

These hazards can be identified and mitigated for livestock through the seven LPA requirements, as outlined in the LPA Rules and Standards:

  • property risk assessments
  • safe and responsible animal treatments
  • stock food, fodder crops, grain and pasture treatments
  • preparing for dispatch of livestock
  • livestock transactions and movements
  • biosecurity
  • animal welfare.

However, these requirements also highlight risks that can impact workers.

Livestock professionals must be able to identify risks to both humans and livestock through appropriate LPA and WHS procedures, in order to maintain the safety of their enterprise.

An alliance to guide WHS

AgriFutures Australia, along with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), are part of the Rural Safety and Health Alliance – a joint initiative funded by eight rural research and development corporations to partner in projects that improve safety on Australian farms.

The following statistics regarding 2022 workplace injuries and fatalities were sourced by AgriFutures:

  • 55 on-farm deaths – with Queensland recording the highest percentage
  • 158 non-fatal injuries
  • Tractors and quads continue to be the leading agents of injury
  • 1,705 on-farm deaths since 2001 – 88.3% males, and 14.1% children under 15 years old.

Agriculture is considered a dangerous industry because of these statistics – and as members of this industry, we must work together to ensure these types of injuries and fatalities are reduced as much as possible to protect our workers.

The alliance conducts research to implement effective systems and resources to protect workers. These systems align with LPA accreditation, including:

  • safety training for all employees
  • assessing and minimising all risks on property (particularly through an LPA property risk assessment)
  • keeping detailed safety records (including for chemical use and machinery maintenance)
  • implementing best practice WHS on-farm.

Precautions and solutions for common worker risks

Any worker in the red meat value chain can be exposed to health and safety risks, however LPA assists with risk recognition and mitigation. Hazards are prominent and frequent on-farm, with common risks across the value chain including:

  • On-farm workers may be in contact with potentially contaminated animals and areas. This can be avoided by identifying risks and implementing appropriate management strategies as a part of LPA and WHS. Workers may also be in contact with chemical crop treatments that could harm them. Formal training in chemical use could help prevent complications.
  • Processors and exporters may be in contact with deceased livestock and potential contaminants. An accurate LPA National Vendor Declaration (NVD) can help identify stock exposed to contaminants, residue or disease.
  • Transport and machinery workers are under pressure with changing weather, road and machinery conditions. Planning and risk assessments can assist in mitigation, as well as increased communication from producers to their transporter.
  • Veterinarians require extensive training and record-keeping to avoid any medical complications to themselves and the livestock they treat. LPA has specific requirements around record keeping for animal treatments to ensure the right information is on-hand in the event of an issue.

The Australian livestock sector relies on the risk management approaches outlined in the seven LPA requirements to underpin our market access and quality reputation globally and this risk management can be applied within WHS to protect our workers and industry.