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Te Awamutu Courier - 2021-06-10

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Safety in the shed

The Country

“I was helping out at a shed recently with three young shearers, all in their 20s, and they had all their own machines.” Joseph says hygiene is another issue that is gradually improving but could still be better. “I was what you could call a ‘tidy kid’ and always very aware about good hand-washing practices, especially before eating,” he says. “When I started shearing, I just had to get over that because there were sheds that literally had no hand washing facilities. “You have to eat, to keep your energy up and you wouldn’t want to use your water bottle to wash because there was nowhere to refill it, so I would be handling food with my hands covered with grease, wool and worse. “That is getting better, but every shed should have running water, liquid soap and paper towels to dry your hands.” Joseph also sees awareness about nutrition growing. “It’s very demanding work. People have always been pretty good about keeping hydrated but when I was shearing, a lot of people lived on junk – literally packet chips, processed stuff and takeaways. “But there’s a lot of industry advice about that now and shearing companies are working to educate people about eating better. “Some very high performing shearers work with nutritionists – and that approach filters down. “You see a lot on shearing and social media about eating well and different electrolytes and it’s really good to see those discussions. “Again, my background means I’ve always been aware about the importance of a good diet. I tend to eat a balance of meat, vegetables and carbs. “If I’m shearing, I might make extra pasta to take with me or a healthy sandwich and nuts and grains. “I allow myself treats too – I take the view that if I’m eating good stuff, I can have a few lollies. “I think if you have a good diet, water is sufficient but I will supplement with electrolytes sometimes.” While shearing full-time, Joseph was fortunate to escape serious injury when he was knocked unconscious by the spinning bucket of an old wool press. “I did notice things were starting to get better around the time I left shearing, about four years ago, largely due to awareness about the new regulations coming in,” he says. “That included replacing old machinery, like wool presses.”

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