Meetings-MESHA-Final Code-2010-10-0355-1-En.doc/v2 149
16. Animal production
16.1. Animal handling
16.1.1. Animal handling may involve a large number of activities from birthing
through feeding, castrating, administering medicines, herding, training, insemination and
slaughtering, and may involve a large number of species including horses, draft animals,
oxen, cows, pigs, fowl, sheep, and goats, exotic breeds such as ostriches and llamas, as
well as wild animals.
16.1.2. Animal production involves a number of hazards for workers. These include
crushing, blunt or goring injuries as a result of moving, caring for, or conducting
treatments on animals. These hazards are discussed below under the headings: (1) Hazard
description; (2) Risk assessment; (3) Elimination of the hazard; (4) Control of the hazard
through engineering controls; (5) Minimization of hazards by means of systems and
protocols; and (6) The use of PPE.
16.2. Hazard description
16.2.1. Knowledge of the behaviour of animals present in the agricultural
undertaking is vital for the development of safe handling procedures. Behaviour is based
on, but not limited to the type of animal: its breed, temperament, natural instincts and
sensory characteristics. Certain breeds are more aggressive or become agitated more easily
16.2.2. Highly agitated animals are dangerous. If an animal becomes highly
agitated, it may take 20 to 30 minutes for its heart rate to return to normal. Allowing an
agitated animal sufficient time to calm down before handling can help prevent injuries.
16.2.3. Hazards to workers result from animals’ agitation, fear, panic, or aggression
when their instinctual behaviour is challenged. Common injuries to workers include being
stepped on, knocked down, kicked, or pinned between the animal and a hard surface.
Injuries can also occur from scratches, bites, pecks, butting and goring.
16.2.4. Most animals have a strong territorial instinct and develop an attachment to
areas they have frequented, such as pens and pastures, water troughs and worn paths.
Forcible removal from these areas can cause animals to react in an unexpected manner.
16.2.5. Male animals may show more aggression and require extra caution in
handling, compared with females. Aggression is increased when males are challenged by
other animals and/or during the mating season.
16.2.6. Many female animals exhibit a maternal instinct causing them to be more
defensive and difficult to handle when their young are newborn. The aggressive tendency
of mother animals, whilst caring for their young, is reduced as the offspring matures.
16.2.7. Animals have a definite social order with dominant animals having first
choice of feed, location and direction of travel. Crowding a subordinate animal against a
dominant one during handling may disrupt the social structure and cause an unpredictable
and dangerous response.