Saturday, November 17, 2012

Aussie tax dollars at work

Government studies and analyses: well worth the time and money.

(Australia division)

I found the following during my daily surf, and it was so exciting and valuable I could never forgive myself if I didn't share it with that important part of the world who reads my posts.

2002 Nov;33(6):523-31.

An analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces.


School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences, University of Ballarat, PO Box 663, Ballarat, Victoria 3353, Australia.


Some occupational health and safety hazards associated with sheep shearing are related to shearing shed design. One aspect is the floor of the catching pen, from which sheep are caught and dragged to the shearing workstation. Floors can be constructed from various materials, and may be level or gently sloping. An experiment was conducted using eight experienced shearers as participants to measure the force exerted by a shearer when dragging a sheep. Results showed that significant changes in mean dragging force occurred with changes in both surface texture and slope. The mean dragging forces for different floor textures and slopes ranged from 359 N (36.6 kg) to 423N (43.2 kg), and were close to the maximum acceptable limits for pulling forces for the most capable of males. The best floor tested was a floor sloped at 1:10 constructed of timber battens oriented parallel to the path of the drag, which resulted in a mean dragging force 63.6N (15%) lower than the worst combination.

So let it be written. So let it be done.

"Up rode the squatter stockman, mounted on his thoroughbred

Down came the troopers ONE TWO THREE!"

Listen to Jimmie Rodger's 1960 version of WM here.

Read two amazing lucid and literate old posts about Aussie definitions in this song:




  1. I don't understand your point here. Sheep-shearers were suffering injuries, due to the damaging loads imposed on their musculosketetal systems, which stem directly from the effort required to execute an inevitable part of the job.
    The Aussie scientificand occupation health services funded an invesigation into the causes of the injuries received, and came up with a solution that could lead to far fewer men injured, fewer lives damaged, less stress upon families, fewer families suffering economic hardship, savings in hospital time, doctors, nurses, drugs prescribed, happier workers, higher productivity, bigger profits for farmers, more taxes, more exports, more prosperity all round. Even the sheep are happier.
    That's a near-perfect example of a good use for tax dollars. Time well spent. Next time you stuff a jumbuck in your tucker-bag, spare a thought for the bloke who figured out that sloped low-drag ramp to your tucker bag filling-point.

    1. Ah. Well, see, I, on the other hand, immediately recognized waste and unneeded government intervention. I think it rather idiotic (though not nearly as idiotic as my own government) to fund such an in-depth investigation - only to reach the conclusion that things drag easier on a smooth surface, and even more so if the surface slants downhill. If they had continued the investigation, they might have added some sort of kitchen pan spray to the floor to further ease the drag. Good for the wool, too, I would imagine. Careful, however, not to convert all the way to a Teflon-coated surface, as you might sail the draggee clear off the platform again, eh? Plus, the sheep would probably enjoy it, and we can't have that.

      The inclined plane's inventor is lost in antiquity. Is it so old that the Aussie government had to rediscover it? Did not the workers simply use what the stockmen provided? Were both the stockmen and the workers inventively challenged? Inquiring minds. Is it possible that, after the study, the government provided financial aid to the stockmen to make needed changes? (And perhaps mandated handicapped parking spaces for the injured shearers?) I am so skeptical, I know - but then I have always been afflicted with common sense.

      My own government would have gone farther and mandated that one employee be designated as "drag coordinator" and sent him off to distant high-level meetings to keep current on the state of the art of sheep-dragging, and be paid a bit more to pass this knowledge on to the regular shearers, at the monthly shearing meetings. But I sink too far into needless sarcasm. Socialism rules, after all. Personal initiative? Screw that.

      Here's yet another insulting thought: do we drag prone cows up a ramp when we milk them in the morning? Perhaps. But in some parts of the world, workers have learned that cows can walk and can even be herded to go where one wants them to go. Sheep, of course, can't walk, but you get the drift.

      I'm not going to insult you or the Aussie government with a primitive discourse on where and how to build sheep catch pens, or how to make them walk up ramps. Suffice to say there are better ways to get sheep near an electrical outlet than dragging them uphill twenty yards.

      I realize that shearing sheep requires intimate handling/manhandling of the animal during the shearing process, but dragging that far? No other method than smoothing the drag floor can be invented? Bullshit. Or sheepdip, as the case may be.

      You are almost always on the right side of these analytical issues, so I must be missing something. You have made my poor brain hurt again. But your sheep joke eased the thobbing somewhat. :)

  2. Old Aussie joke:
    "Oi! Mate! Are you shearing that sheep?"
    "No! Get your own!".

  3. Another example of academics with too much time on their hands and too much tax payers' money in said hands to play around with. Some of these "researches" really do need researching!!! As do the researchers and those giving them the researches...this could go on forever. I might have to look into it!! ;)

    "Waltzing Matilda" is a great song...and one that never fails to bring a lump to a true blue Aussie's throat. I'm a true blue Aussie! :)

  4. I've given it due thought. Hyraulic sheep-grabs, hanging from the ceiling, wheeled sheep, or a ball-bearing-strewn floor, teflon planking, spiked boots.
    Eugenics to produce a new generation of super-tough shearers, breeding bald sheep would do away with shearing altogether, a population explosion of swagmen would reduce the jumbuck population to a point where no shearer would ever have to shear more than three a day. Breeding rabbit-sized sheep... But with long legs, to reduce shearers having to bend.. flying sheep with huge suction wind tunnels that suck the sheep through a shaving orifice...
    I'm on a roll here. Where's my research grant ya tight-clawed bludgers!?

  5. grant...but those guys over there in the white jackets are looking at you! ;)

  6. I hope they've done their training then. If they grab me, I won't go without a fight, inclined plane or not!

  7. lol....If I can dodge them, soubriquet...I'm sure you can! ;)


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