Melton Shire Council Local Laws animal management vehicle improvements

Melton Shire Council Local Laws animal management vehicle improvements

We all talk about it, some of us do it, but only a few of us make it really work. Consultation is a buzz word in occupational health and safety.

The local laws team at Melton Shire Council has used employee consultation to eliminate one of the Local Government sector's greatest risks.

Handling dogs into the back of animal management vehicles is highly hazardous. Dogs are sometimes heavy and often unpredictable. In the past, a Melton staff member has been seriously injured doing this job.

Officers in the Melton Local Laws team, led by coordinator David Durose, were dissatisfied with the traditional vehicle pods being used so they researched and designed an alternative.

Council commissioned a vehicle fit-out company specialising in disability services to successfully re-fit a Toyota WorkMate. Then Mr Durose and his team significantly reworked the design for a Hyundai iLoad, which offered a larger payload volume and a lower floor pan.

The lower floor allowed the creation of a knee-high cage with a step, so animals could jump in themselves instead of being manually handled, or using a ramp. It also meant animals could be caged quickly and easily, and not at face height, reducing the risk of bites.

The new design also includes slots in the cage doors for the handling pole and lockable storage compartments.

"The vehicles are close to ideal now. Side doors open on a completely separate compartment with workspace, storage drawers and gun safe," Mr Durose explains.

"A spotlight on the inside of the rear door illuminates the animal handling area at night and flashing hazard lights make roadside work safer – all in a vehicle that completely protects animals from the elements!"

The project was a monthly winner in the 2011 WorkSafe Awards, receiving a visit from inspectors and a day with a film crew. The resulting video can be viewed at http://www.awardsoffice.com/worksafe100/entry_details_v03.asp?ID=3502&Category_ID=4556.