Safety responsibilities: Cattle service businesses

Understand how to keep safe while working on cattle farms.



Cattle service businesses include vets, livestock transporters, livestock agents and herd improvement businesses. The nature of this work means working on a variety of different farms, all with different set ups. Cattle farms are dangerous places to work, so it is vital that you know how to work safely.

Cattle farm owners have a responsibility to provide safe cattle handling facilities. Setting safety expectations early with your farmer clients will help keep everyone safe and productive.

Know how to work safely with cattle

Working with cattle is dangerous. People have died or been seriously injured while loading, drafting and working with cattle in the crush. Everyone who works with cattle needs to understand cattle behaviour and how to keep themselves safe in a cattle yard.

If you employ people who will be working with cattle, you have a legal responsibility to make sure they know how to safely handle cattle.

Know what a safe cattle farm looks like

Working on different farms means you will be working with a variety of yard set ups and equipment. It is important to know what a safe cattle yard looks like. WorkSafe has guidance that shows what safe and unsafe cattle yards and cattle handling practices look like.

If you employ people, you need to make sure they know what a safe working environment looks like. All employees should be able to recognise what makes a cattle yard safe or unsafe. New employees should be given experience working in different types of yards while being supervised to make sure they know how to work safely.

Ask for an induction

Before you start work on a farm, someone from the farm business should give you an induction. The information they provide will depend on the work you are doing, but could include:

  • Showing you how the yards work, including escape routes and how to use the gate systems.
  • Showing you how the ramp riser works.
  • Showing you how their crush works.
  • Having a discussion about the temperament of the cattle you will be working with.
  • Explaining any no-go zones or farm hazards, such as boggy ground from recent rain.
  • Explaining emergency procedures.
  • Making sure someone else from the farm business is available to supervise and assist.

Assess safety before you start work

Before you treat, load or do any sort of work with cattle, assess if it is safe to do so. The owner of the cattle yard has a responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that it is a safe place for people to work. If you or your employees assess that the yards or facilities are not safe to work in, you should not work in them until they are made safe.

If you employ people, you need to make sure they are trained to assess safety. Checklists or risk assessment templates can help to make safety assessments easy and quick to complete and make clear when work is unsafe and should not go ahead.

Consider undertaking regular visits to a client's farms to check the facilities with your client and discuss any concerns about safety.

Don't work alone

Keeping yourself and your employees safe on cattle farms means making sure no one works alone. If the farm owner or someone from the farm business is not available to supervise and assist, you need to make arrangements to work with someone else. Anyone you work with must know how to work safely and understand emergency procedures.

Consult with your employees about health and safety

Consultation means talking to your employees about health and safety and involving them in making decisions about health and safety on the farm. Consulting with your employees is a great way to identify safety issues early and get ideas about how to work better and safer.

Consultation might look like:

  • Talking to your employees about:
    • procedures for assessing risk
    • new approaches to cattle handling
    • how to report safety concerns on client’s farms.
    • how employees should navigate conversations with client’s when their farm is not safe
    • who in your business to talk to if there is a client safety issue
  • Regular check ins, safety chats and debriefs.

Report notifiable incidents to WorkSafe

You must understand when to notify WorkSafe about incidents or accidents that occur. WorkSafe publishes information about what a notifiable incident is and how you can report them.

More information and advice