AFTER a year of development Standards Australia has finalised and published the first Australian Standard for Livestock loading/unloading ramps and forcing pens.
It says the 37-page document provides guidance on the safe design and practices for the 85,000 or so agricultural businesses across Australia that use loading ramps, according to NFF statistics.
However to see the detail set out in the Australian Standard it appears livestock producers and others in the supply chain will have to pay a minimum fee of $125 to download the full document from the Standards Australia website.
Beef Central was this afternoon seeking guidance from Standards Australia as to whether the detail of the new Standard will be provided free of charge to livestock producers, or whether they will have to pay the $125 fee to view the full document, which would not seem particularly conducive to achieving widespread uptake.
In a media release launching the new standard today Standards Australia said AS 5340:2020 Livestock loading/unloading ramps and forcing pens has been developed to help promote consistency across the farming sector
Standards Australia said the new ramp standard was developed with the safety of workers and welfare of livestock front of mind.
“We hope this standard helps to improve safety and build confidence across rural regions and within the many farming communities,” said Head of Standards Development at Standards Australia, Roland Terry-Lloyd.
The initial development of the standard came after communities were left shaken by the death of a transport worker while unloading livestock on a loading ramp in October 2013.
“We have seen significant support from all sectors of the industry as this work has come together,” Mr Terry-Lloyd said.
“Standards Australia will continue to work proactively with the agriculture sector to further equip rural communities with the tools to help them carry out their essential work and better protect workers across the country.”
Standards Australia said the standard was developed following public consultation during 2020 and input from a representative supply chain and community steering committee.
The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Australia (ALRTA) today welcomed the publication of the new Australian Standard.
“The standard has had plenty of industry input and by utilising the Guidelines for Ramps and Forcing Yards to steer the guidance, the resulting standard is an important benchmark for the manufacturing and use of livestock ramps,” said former ALRTA Vice President and Chair of the Animal Welfare Committee, Michael Debenham.
“This guidance will assist to create safer workplaces for both livestock and our workers through consistent information for owners, manufacturers and regulators across the country.”
Mr Debenham said that the new standard will improve worker safety and animal welfare.
“Loading ramps and forcing yards are the most dangerous part of livestock handling facilities. In 2020, livestock producers, handlers and transporters can no longer accept the unnecessary risk of crushing, lacerations and slips, trips and falls, and tragically, sometimes death,” he said.
“There is consensus within the industry that improved safety can be best achieved by keeping livestock and people separated, a guiding principle that is reflected throughout the standard. By improving safety for workers, we also improve the safety and welfare of our livestock – the two go hand in hand.
“The standard is strongly supported by the livestock supply chain and based on the pre-existing Guide for Safe Design of Livestock Loading Ramps and Forcing Yards which was published by ALRTA in 2015. Those who have followed the guide will generally meet the standard.”
ALRTA National President Scott McDonald said that there has never been a better time to invest in safer and more productive livestock ramps.
“After an unprecedented string of natural disasters, the rural sector is now enjoying a good season and minds will soon turn to investing profits in improved supply chain infrastructure,” he said.
“The Federal Government is encouraging new investment via instant asset write-off provisions announced in the 2020-21 Budget. Until 30 June 2022, businesses can generally write off the full cost of depreciable assets in the first year of use or installation.
“I strongly encourage all ramp owners to undertake a safety risk, animal welfare and productivity assessment of their existing livestock ramps and take the opportunity to bring facilities into line with the national ramp standard while the investment incentives are in place. Farmers and depot managers purchasing new equipment should ask the manufacturer if the product meets the standard,” he said.
Copies of the standard can be obtained from price of $125 for an electronic downloard at this link on the Standards Australia website.