Notice to Industry 2: Freighter aircraft operations personnel - biosecurity requirements

​Movement of horses by freighter operations personnel (excluding horses from New Zealand and New Caledonia)


The purpose of this document is to inform freighter aircraft operations personnel involved with the import of horses (excluding those from New Zealand and New Caledonia) of their biosecurity requirements and their obligation to comply with these requirements.

Legislative Framework

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (the Act), the imported horses are subject to biosecurity control and require an isolation order. The isolation provisions include restricted access to enter the controlled area around the plane/horses and decontamination requirements for those admitted to the controlled area.

These conditions apply to all freighter aircraft operations personnel who have permission to enter the controlled area to assist with the arrival of horses by freighter aircraft. Personnel include cargo handlers, airport ground staff operators, air crew members and horse transport drivers.

Conditions of permission to move horses

For the purposes of the following conditions, biosecurity risk material includes horse feed, bedding, equipment or manure.

Permission to enter the controlled area is subject to the following conditions:

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General requirements

You must ensure that:

  1. The airline must appoint a co-ordinator to assist the Department of Agriculture (the department), in managing the clearance of horses.
  2. All personnel must work cooperatively and comply with directions from biosecurity officers.
  3. Appropriate personnel/contractors must be available for cleaning the aircraft and/or corral.
  4. The following table outlines what equipment is required for the clearance and who must supply it:  
Equipment Responsibility for supply
Disposable clothing The Approved Arrangement (AA) site or the department
Showers, Soap, Towels As arranged between the department, importers and other parties involved
Disinfectants such as a foot bath containing Virkon solution, alcohol based antibacterial hand gel and alcohol wipes

The AA site or the department

Water glass solution The AA site or waste contractor
Change of clothes Freighter aircraft operations personnel/Employee’s company

Personnel biosecurity requirements

Category A – includes grooms and private veterinarians, vehicle drivers and anyone who touches a horse or the inside of an animal transport container.

Whether or not directed by a department officer, persons that come into direct or very close contact with horses or the animal transport container must:

  • shower before leaving the corral area at the airport and surrender clothing to a department officer for laundering and change into new clothing and footwear; or
  • proceed directly to the post arrival quarantine (PAQ) facility to shower, change into clean clothing and footwear, and surrender the dirty clothing to a department officer for laundering.

Category B – includes those personnel located in the corral or aircraft hold who may be in contact with BRM but not in direct contact with horses or the inside of animal transport containers.

This includes:

  • cleaners, hold/waste officer, department staff;
  • tug drivers if not supervised by biosecurity officers; and
  • personnel performing duties in the near vicinity of horses and BRM that are not directly supervised by a biosecurity officer.

Category B personnel must:

  • wear dedicated clothing (e.g. material or disposable overalls) while working in the corral, and/or aircraft hold;
  • not contact horses or animal transport containers. If there is exposure (e.g. direct contact with a horse or in-contact equipment) then the person is classified as Category A and requires full decontamination;
  • wash hands with soap and water or alcohol based antibacterial gel/alcohol wipes before leaving the controlled area;
  • present their footwear for inspection. If there is visible dirt on footwear it must be cleaned and disinfected; and
  • remove disposable overalls for disposal as biosecurity waste following use.

Category C – includes those personnel with duties not related to horses or contacting biosecurity risk material and/or are directly supervised by a department officer.

This includes

  • scissor lift operators, ramp drivers, on board cargo handlers who only touch the outside of the animal transport containers;
  • Australian Border Force officers, flight crew, MDL operator and main panel operators;
  • tug drivers in the corral but remaining on the tug, supervised by department staff and not contacting any part of the corral;
  • lower deck loader operators, lower deck drivers and refuelling officers.

Category C personnel must:

  • remain clear of the operations so that no additional biosecurity measures are required;
  • keep away from horses and animal transport containers;
  • submit for inspection when leaving the aircraft to determine if clothing and footwear are clean and free from contamination with BRM; and
  • advise a biosecurity officer if they are likely to have contact with horses within the next 12 hours.

Note: If a biosecurity officer sees or suspects Category C personnel have been exposed to a horse, the inside of an animal transport container, or BRM they may reclassify the person to Category A or B (as appropriate) and require them to undergo decontamination as per that category.

Category C personnel that are clean from any BRM and not likely to have contact with horses within the next 12 hours do not require any specific decontamination measures.

Cargo biosecurity requirements

Where a department officer directs cargo on board to be treated or decontaminated, the person(s) responsible for the aircraft must comply with that direction. For cargo transiting to another Australian first point of entry, treatment may be completed at that arrival port, or when unloaded at the final Australian destination, if required.

Aircraft biosecurity requirements

Where a department officer directs that treatment of the aircraft occur, the person(s) responsible for the aircraft must comply with the direction.

Non-compliance with these conditions

Failure to comply with the above conditions may constitute an offence under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Document information

The following table contains administrative metadata.

Instructional material owner: Director, Horse, Livestock and Bird Imports Program
Freedom of information exemption: No
Records Manager container number: 2014/11556E
Review date: December 2022

Version history

The following table details the published date and amendment details for this document.

Version Date Amendment details
6.0 14/04/15 Updated following internal audit.
7.0 25/11/2015 Updated with streamlined procedures to implement internal audit recommendations.
8.0 16/6/2016 Updates to comply with the Biosecurity Act 2015.
9.0 17/12/2019

Updates to improve consistency and readability.
Removed the requirement for category B personnel to wash their face.

Last reviewed: 24 December 2019
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