Shearing Occupational Health & Safety Guides

Managing Occupational Health and Safety

Occupational Health and Safety Law

Managing Workers Compensation, Injury Management and Rehabilitation

Workers Compensation Law

Shearing Shed

Machinery & Equipment


Working environment

Hazardous substances and dangerous goods



Emergency response and first aid

Amenities, accommodation & travel

Further information


Click here for definitions

Click here for definitions


Backjoint: Shearing machine joint between long and short tubes, and between short tube and handpiece.

Bale: A wool pack containing an amount of wool conforming to the Wool Corporation’s (or equivalent) weight specifications.

Battens: Timber used in open grate flooring of sheep pens.

Bayonet joint: The coupling used to join the long and short guts to other drive components.

Bellies: Wool shorn from the belly of the sheep.

Blow: A single forward motion of the shear’s handpiece in cutting wool.

Board: The floor area on which shearing takes place.

Bristle: Broom like stiff fibrous material

Butts: Wool pack containing less than the minimum bale weight of wool.

Catching pens: A small sheep enclosure in the shearing shed adjacent to the shearing board from which the shearer catches the sheep to be shorn.

Chute: A sloping ramp, open or enclosed, from the shearing board leading down to ground level for shorn sheep to be exited through the letting-go doorway which is at the top.

Classing of Wool: The parcelling of similar wools for sale (see “wool classer”).

Clip: Total amount of wool shorn from flock, shed, country, etc.

Comb: The stationary part of the wool cutting mechanism fixed to the front of the hand piece. The comb penetrates between the wool fibres and is pushed and guided over the skin of the sheep by the shearer.

Cut-Out: End of shearing of the flock or shed.

Cutter: Reciprocating part of wool cutting mechanism fixed to front of handpiece.

Down tube: A vertical steel tube housing the long gut which descends from the overhead gear or the shearing plant into the handpiece.

Expedition Shearer: A shearer who resides at the workplace for the duration of the job.

Expert: Member of the shearing team responsible for care and operation of shearing shed machinery and the grinding of combs and cutters.

Ferrules: Sections of tubing attached to the drive side of the down tube elbow joints and handpiece back-joints.

Forcing or sweting pens: Sheep pens without shearing shed in which sheep are held prior to being moved into catching pens.

Gate beds: These are shearers’ accommodation beds constructed from tubular steel frames and covered with a wire mesh surface.

Gut,long & short: Flexible nylon or leather drive shafts that rotate within long and short down tubes and transfer rotation force from overhead gear to the handpiece.

Handpiece: Hand-held instrument weighing approximately 1.3kgs. This is where the cutting comb and cutter are attached to produce a reciprocating and cutting motion.

Learner: A shearer who has shorn less than a specified number of sheep, (10,000 in Queensland, 5,000 other states; PIA clause 22, 1986.

Letting go doorways: The exit for shorn sheep directly from the shearing board.

Load-up: To fit a comb and cutter to the shearing handpiece.

Lock-up: This is the name of the event when the operation of the handpiece is jammed whilst the rotating force in the down tubes is still present. The main problem here is the sudden violent twisting of the handpiece.

Locks: Very short piece of wool such as second cuts.

Lux: Lux is the unit of measurement of a stream of light falling on a surface. Light normally encountered ranges from a few lux in a darkened room to approximately 100,000 lux in direct bright sunlight. Natural daylight may vary between 2000 and 100,000 lux. Artificial light at night may be between 50-500 lux.

Monkey: This is the metal/wooden plate which presses the wool into a bale in the woolpress. Sometimes also referred to as a platen.

Pack: An industry approved sack-like container into which wool is pressed.

Pen: Enclosure inside or outside the shearing shed for holding sheep.

Penning up: Moving sheep from forcing pens to catching pens ready for shearing.

Picking-up: Gathering and lifting fleece once it’s shown off the sheep, carrying to and casting it onto the wool rolling table.

Platen: This is the metal/wooden plate which presses the wool into a bale in the wool press, (See “Monkey”).

Points: This can refer to either the extremities of a sheep (feet & head) or those of the fleece (shanks and neck).

Pressing: Refers to the process of placing the wool under pressure in a wool press to make a wool bale within a wool pack.

Race: A narrow, fenced, roofless enclosure through which sheep pass in file. A fenced passageway used to direct and control sheep movement.

Raised boards: A shearing board elevated about a meter above the wool room floor level.

Rams: A mature male sheep used for breeding.

Rolling: This is the action of folding the fleece for classing. It requires the flesh side to be outermost.

Run: A two-hour work period. There are four such two-hour runs per day; 7,30am – 9.30am, 10am – 12 midday, 1pm – 3pm, 3.30pm – 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Safety clutch: An adjustable spring loaded clutch in the short gut designed to slip should the rotating and/or reciprocating action of the handpiece become jammed.

Second cuts: Short portions of wool resulting from two blows over the same area.

Shearing Grinder: Machine for sharpening combs and cutters. Power driven discs, with abrasive cloth on one face rotating at approximately 2850 rpm.

Shed hands: Workers employed in the shearing shed other than the overseer, shearers, expert and wool classer. Their tasks are between the shearing board and final delivery of wool to either the wool classer and/or a wool bin. This involves at least:
a. picking up the fleece and throwing onto the wool table;
b. skirting;
c. rolling;
d. sweeping the board and wool room

Skirting: Pulling the inferior wool from the fleece while it is spread out on the wool table.

Snob: The more difficult to shear sheep in the pen or mob (e.g difficult combing, wrinkly).

Stand: Refers to the machine and area of shearing board required by a shearer.

Suburban Shearer: A shearer who resides at a place other than the workplace and travels to and from work daily.

Tally: Number of sheep shorn by a shearer, daily, weekly or for the duration of shearing at a particular shed.

Wether: A sheep castrated as a lamb.

Woolbin: Large receptacle for storing wool prior to pressing.

Wool Classer: A person employed to sort wool into various recognised grades or lines, (see “Classing”).

Woolroom: Area in shearing shed where wool is skirted and classed.

Yolk: The natural secretion from the sheep skin onto the wool fibre.

Reference: National Code of Practice for the Shearing Industry (Health, Safety & Welfare Standards), Australian Workers' Union, 1997