Improving safety around cattle – it's the least you can do

New WorkSafe guidance is helping industry lift the standard on cattle handling safety.


Developed alongside key beef industry stakeholders, the Beef Cattle Handling Safety Information encourages farmers to make achievable changes to keep everyone on their farm safe.

It is part of a three-year push to provide practical support and resources to help farmers and others assess their cattle handling practices and yard facilities and identify areas for improvement.

Cattle handling is the second most common cause of workplace death on Victorian farms, claiming four lives since 2018, while an average of almost one person every week is injured seriously enough while working with cattle to receive workers compensation.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the key message – It's the least I can do – harnessed people's desire to "do the right thing" and encouraged farmers to take a fresh look at the safety of their cattle handling facilities and practices.

"We know safety is not a fixed concept, it's an ongoing process and we're working alongside farmers, workers, cattle service providers and the wider industry to help everyone reach at least a basic level of safety and strive for continual improvement," Dr Beer said.

"WorkSafe is committed to offering practical advice and not leaving farmers and workers with a problem to figure out on their own. We know every farm is different, that’s why we've worked closely with industry to create information that will offer valuable support to those working with cattle on farms."

Speaking in a video with WorkSafe, South Gippsland beef farmer Peter Miller said ongoing maintenance was key to safe and efficient yards.

"Yard maintenance is important, why have something that doesn't work? It's just so simple… and it just makes it more enjoyable to work if everything's working the way it should," Mr Miller said.

"It's the least we can do to make them safe for everyone else who's working in there."

The project's initial push will be to encourage small improvements for big wins in safety and efficiency, with a focus on yard maintenance, surfaces and gates and latches. The guidance includes a printable checklist to help evaluate the safety of yards and identify where improvements should be made.

Further messaging will target topics including working alone, loading ramps, drafting, safety conversations, mustering and yard design.