Background

An apprentice jockey has sustained fatal head injuries after falling from a horse while undertaking track work. The jockey was wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at the time of the incident.

Safety issues

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.

Recommended ways to control risks

When working in a stable or horse training facility, WorkSafe reminds 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.

For more information about identifying hazards and controlling risks in this industry, see WorkSafe's guidebook: Horse stables and track riding safety (edition 2).

Specific controls for track work

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.

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.

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004:

  • employers must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and other people. This includes identifying risks to health or safety and eliminating or reducing those risks, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • employees must take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety and co-operate with his or her employer with respect to any action taken by the employer to comply with a requirement imposed by the Act.

Support for people affected by a serious workplace incident

Have you or a family member been affected by a workplace fatality, illness or serious injury?

For advice and support, call:

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Lifeline: 13 11 14