Biosecurity Guidelines for Movement of Equipment
Note Number: AG1171
Published: January 2005
Updated: July 2009
These guidelines are prepared to assist contractors to minimise the risk of introducing livestock or plant diseases and pests onto private or public land in the course of moving between farms with equipment and machinery.
The farming public are becoming increasingly conscious of the risks of livestock and plant diseases or pests being introduced by visitors, including machinery contractors, entering their land.
While there may be greater risk of introducing plant pests and diseases than that posed by livestock diseases, the latter may have greater, more immediate and far reaching consequences.
Procedures for the decontamination of personnel and equipment should be considered as a single and relatively simple operation to cover both livestock and plant diseases and pests, that can be carried out in minimum time.
Machinery contractors entering land, other than at the specific invitation of the owner, need to exercise discretion and consideration of the land owners' rights and expectations.
Diseases or pests that may actually be taken onto land can be less important than what the contractor may much later be accused of introducing, especially if entry is uninvited and unwelcome. These situations can arise where public utilities need to enter private land as part of their operations to provide or maintain their services.
Prospectors and mining companies
Similar situations arise with prospecting or mining companies. Mining operations often require extensive soil disturbance or entry onto land over an extended period of time.
On account of this and the historical tension between miners and landholders, great sensitivity is needed. Good communications and a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities of both parties will often prevent problems later on.
Where a public utility or its nominated contractor is required to enter private or public land to lay pipes, cables, overhead power lines or similar type work, this would normally be initiated by written communication between the responsible body and the land owner.
This is the ideal opportunity to detail the precautions that will be taken to minimise the risk of introducing diseases or pests. This initiative will allay the land owners' fears, whether they are real, imagined or a convenient excuse to prevent or delay the entry. It should also help protect the contractor in the event of future litigation.
Minimising the risk of transferring disease agents or pests
First impressions are vital, and in this regard there is no substitute for the arrival on the land with all personnel, equipment and machinery in a state of cleanliness and free of soil, faeces, plants, weeds, seeds, etc. Items such as overalls, boots, spade, post hole diggers, backhoes and large equipment should all be clean and free of foreign matter on arrival.
Some land owners may insist on seeing decontamination carried out before allowing work to commence. This is a reasonable request and should be complied with as a matter of good public relations, even though this should have been carried out prior to coming onto that land.
An alternative to this, especially with large equipment such as a bulldozer or scraper, would be to have a decontamination certificate completed and signed by the landowner at the conclusion of works on the previous property visited.
Decontamination before leaving the land
Decontamination is an essential operation to be carried out prior to leaving the property. This ensures that any foreign matter remains on the land of origin, rather than taking it to another location.
Where it is not possible to conduct the decontamination prior to leaving the land where the work was conducted, the operation should be carried out immediately afterwards at the depot or another secure site.
For most situations the following principles apply:
1. It is essential to remove the soil and debris from tools, equipment and machinery before decontamination can be carried out.
2. Pressure hosing with water will be sufficient to remove debris from most tools, equipment and machinery.
3. A hard bristle brush, a high pressure washer or steam cleaner may be essential for more difficult stains or soil, paying particular attention to the tyres, tracks and undercarriage of vehicles and machinery.
4. Soiled clothing should be removed for laundering and boots scrubbed clean; hands and other body parts may also need cleaning.
5. Finally, decontamination by spraying on a commercial disinfectant at the recommended strength to the cleaned boots, tools, equipment or machinery will ensure any remaining disease agents or pests are destroyed.
Every effort should be made to ensure that the decontamination process is a public exercise and tactfully brought to the attention of the land owner or manager at the appropriate time. It is not just a question of doing the right thing but also being seen to be doing it. In this way, public confidence will be maintained in the project and one of the valid objections to restrict or delay entry to lands will hopefully be removed.
This Information Note was developed by Hugh Millar, January 2005.
It was reviewed by Iain Mclaren , Biosecurity Victoria. July 2009.
Published and Authorised by:
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
1 Spring Street
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