Coronavirus: New work safety checklist created for shearers

The checklist has been produced to ensure that shearers, wool handlers and farmers continue high levels of workplace safety and animal welfare
The checklist has been produced to ensure that shearers, wool handlers and farmers continue high levels of workplace safety and animal welfare

A new industry checklist has been produced to ensure that shearers continue to operate but at safe distances due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will not be business as usual this season and shearers, wool handlers and farmers have been urged to work in partnership to ensure safety and animal welfare.

The process will inevitably be slower, said British Wool, creators of the checklist, adding that risks must not be taken, and collaboration and patience will be vital.

“We have been working together to provide support to farmers, shearers and contractors for the season ahead," said Gareth Jones, head of producer marketing at British Wool.



"The outcome and response from the industry so far has been fantastic, as a large number of shearers, wool handlers and contractors have already listed their details on the Shearing Register

"With the process of connecting people across the UK underway, these new measures aim to keep everyone involved in shearing safe, by using the Shearing Checklist.”



Numbers of overseas shearers are also expected to be low and the industry is asking UK shearers to get involved in efforts to get the flock shorn.

It is estimated overseas shearers usually shear about 20 percent of the UK flock, leaving a huge hole in resource this season.

Sheep groups are encouraging farmers to get in touch with their usual contractor to organise their shearing, but to be prepared that the season may be longer than in a ‘normal’ year.

Jill Hewitt, chief executive of National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC), said the industry is likely to have a shortage of shearers due to the coronavirus.

"Careful planning will be essential to make certain that, when shearers are on-farm, the process of handling sheep and shearing is efficient and that everyone works together to make the process run as smoothly as possible," she said.

NAAC is hosting a matchmaking register online to bring together shearing contractors - who are potentially missing whole teams of overseas shearers - with UK shearers to try and get the season completed.