WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about hazards and risk controls associated with working within a stable and horse training facility, following the death of an employee.
The alert said there are many hazards when horses, vehicles and pedestrians share roadways, and riders need to be careful in shared zones both on public roads and inside a property (eg where trucks or cars may enter, or roads have open access onto streets).
Blind spots, loud noises, tree branches and road surfaces (eg loose gravel and potholes) also need to be considered, as they may startle a horse and cause injuries to employees.
Working in a stable or horse training facility can be very dangerous, according to the alert, which said working with horses can involve risks such as:
Injuries from being kicked, trampled, pushed, dragged, thrown, crushed or entrapped by a horse
A horse being frightened or breaking loose and causing injury
Horse and rider being struck by vehicles due to poor visibility
Injury as a result of a poorly maintained transport vehicle (eg slippery ramps, bald tyres).
When working in a stable or horse training facility, WorkSafe said employers and self-employed people should:
Ensure appropriate risk controls are in place
Ensure provision of adequate information, training, supervision and instruction
Conduct and document risk assessments before employees begin the job
Ensure safe procedures are followed for working with horses.
Specific controls include:
Avoid public roads where possible when walking horses.
Every horse that is led or ridden on a public road or thoroughfare before sunrise should wear a rug or other gear with reflective strips. The rider or attendant should wear a reflective high visibility vest.
Every rider is to wear a properly affixed helmet, appropriate footwear and an impact safety vest while mounted on a horse. Impact safety vests and helmets are compulsory for jockeys and track riders under the Australian Rules of Racing.
All riders, stable employees, strappers, trainers and visitors should use approved high-visibility vests for both day and night work.
Helmets should be less than five years old (check the helmet manufacture date on the Australian Standards label inside the helmet). Discard any helmet involved in a heavy impact.
Helmets and safety vests should comply with the Australian Rules of Racing.
While being led, every horse should be fitted with a headstall and bit, with the bit attached to a lead and be led from the near (left) side.
While being ridden, every horse should be saddled, and bridled with suitably covered rubber grip reins that are in good serviceable condition.