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Horse and stable safety

This information is aimed at:

  • professional and amateur sporting organisations
  • commercial recreational activity operators
  • breeders
  • people who ride horses for recreation.

Protective equipment

Suitable personal protective equipment should be used wherever there is a risk to health and safety that cannot be adequately controlled by other means. Examples include:

  • helmets where there is a risk of head injuries
  • suitable footwear where there is a risk of foot injuries
  • suitable outdoor clothing if the job involves working outside.

Helmets

Handlers and riders who may be exposed to head injury should wear suitable protective helmets, correctly adjusted and fitted. New riders may need to be shown how to carry out adjustments.

Helmets should be replaced periodically according to use and manufacturers' recommendations. Damaged or dropped helmets should be discarded in a way that no one can retrieve and use them.

Protective helmets considered suitable conform to current Australian Standard AS/NZS 3838 (2006 onwards) provided they are SAI Global marked.

Footwear

Riding boots are preferred, but suitable alternatives may be allowed; for example, stout, strong shoes with a good heel (up to 2.5cm) help prevent the foot from slipping through the stirrup iron.

Riders should not be allowed to wear sneakers/trainers or sandals unless suitable and safe adaptations to the tack have been made, such as stirrup toe guards.

Suitable footwear should also be worn when handling horses and mucking out to protect the feet from trampling or being punctured by the fork.

Clothing

Arms and shoulders should be covered to reduce the risk of abrasions during a fall, even in hot weather.

Loose clothing should be fastened so it can’t flap about, to help prevent distractions to the horse or rider. Tight clothing may restrict free movement of the body.

Hair, jewellery and other items

Tying back long hair will help with visibility.

Jewelry should not be worn. Rings may become caught in the horse’s mane and cause cuts to the fingers, while earrings may rip the ear lobe. Wearing gloves can protect against rings becoming caught.

Backpacks, cameras or any other loose items that could affect control of the horse should not be worn.

Body protectors may be appropriate in some circumstances.

Tack/riding equipment

Rider safety and control of the horse may be seriously impaired unless all tack is in good condition and checked before use to ensure it is free from defects. Pay particular attention to the stitching, as the life of the thread is short compared to that of the leather. Horse sweat rots the stitching and leather, so all tack should be kept clean and supple and be well maintained.

Tack should be maintained in a clean and hygienic condition and be regularly inspected.

It’s important that the tack is suitable and comfortable to both the horse and the rider. Each horse should have its own correctly fitted tack that is suitable for the activity to be carried out.

Manual tasks

Manual tasks are part of nearly all work performed in the horse industry. Manual tasks contribute to musculoskeletal injuries or gradual damage that affect all parts of the body, particularly the back, shoulder and wrist. For example:

  • handling loads: frequent lifting with the back bent or twisted, or pushing/pulling loads with forceful exertions. For example, when placing heavy saddles away, maneuvering horses in a restricted area
  • working in a fixed position with the back bent, continuous sitting or standing. For example, when riding horses for long periods
  • repetitive work with the hand or arm, and having to grip tools or loads tightly. For example, when giving veterinary or healthcare for the horse
  • working with the neck, shoulders and arms in a fixed position. For example, when using foot care tools.

Hazardous chemicals

Horse riding schools, trail riding establishments, racing industry or horse hiring establishments may use detergents, disinfectants, insecticides and veterinary products. Some of these chemicals may be hazardous chemicals and may create a risk to health if improperly used or mixed together.

Ways to manage hazardous chemicals include:

  • having safety data sheets for all chemicals in the workplace
  • providing training and information about the safe use of chemicals
  • keeping a register of the chemicals in the workplace
  • ensuring chemicals are properly labelled and stored.

Training

Before starting any tasks or activities, workers, riders and/or clients should be trained and given induction that covers:

  • the hazards and risks present, and the control measures in place for these
  • procedures and instructions they are expected to comply with for their safety
  • restricted areas of the workplace.

Children

Children should be supervised around horses. They should stay out of stables, pens, and fenced-in areas where the animals are, unless accompanied by an adult who knows how to handle the animals.

Stable safety features

You must ensure your stables have safety features such as first aid equipment and emergency and fire equipment.

Fencing should be maintained so it remains secure to prevent horses from escaping, and unauthorised people or animals from entering.

Lighting should be adequate to enable tasks to be safely carried out, and workers to move around safely.

Stables should be laid out to safely accommodate the maximum number of horses housed. The stable yards should be well planned, tidy and maintained regularly to avoid risk of injuries due to slips, trips and falls, hazardous manual handling and other incidents.

Resources and solutions

WorkSafe Tasmania resources

First Aid

First aid in the workplace code of practice

Hazardous Manual Tasks code of practice

Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace code of practice

Personal protective equipment

Other resources

Guidebook: Horse stables and track riding safety: WorkSafe Victoria (external link)

Updated: 29th October 2019