An apprentice jockey in Victoria has sustained fatal head injuries after falling from a horse while undertaking trackwork.
The jockey was wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at the time of the incident.
A subsequent safety alert noted that there are many hazards and risks involved in working with horses, such as:
Injuries from being kicked, trampled, pushed, dragged, thrown or crushed by a horse
A horse being frightened or breaking loose
Congestion on tracks leading to horses being spooked
Poorly maintained and unsafe tracks
A horse going through a rail.
These hazards and risks increase significantly when riding in difficult conditions such as when it is dark, cold, icy, wet or foggy.
When working in a stable or horse training facility, WorkSafe Victoria reminded employers and self-employed persons to:
Conduct and document risk assessments before employees begin the job
Ensure appropriate risk controls are in place
Ensure provision of adequate information, training, supervision and instruction
Develop and ensure safe procedures are followed for working with horses.
The regulator said employers and self-employed persons should:
Have policies, procedures and track rules in place and enforced, for example by having a track supervisor present at all training sessions
Ensure signage displaying ‘training track’ information is highly visible and easy to understand
Ensure track work is only performed where the track is in a safe and maintained condition and all entry points are either staffed if open, or secured if closed
Have a system or process in place to determine appropriate track work activities, for example, a process to match horses with riders’ ability - in particular with apprentice riders
Ensure track riding can only be performed in the dark (before dawn or after dusk) where there are adequate lighting systems in place.
Furthermore, every rider needs to wear appropriate PPE when mounted on a horse, including a properly secured helmet, safety impact vest, helmet lights when riding in the dark and appropriate fully enclosed footwear.
All riders, stable employees, strappers, trainers and visitors should use approved reflective high-visibility vests for both day and night work.
All safety gear should comply with Australian Racing Rules, relevant Australian Standards and be checked for compliance date.