Employee fatally injured after fall from horse

An alert about hazards and risk controls associated with working within a stable and horse training facility, following the death of an employee.



An employee has died after he was thrown while riding a horse and leading a second horse on a roadside. He was wearing a helmet at the time.

Safety issues

There are many hazards when horses, vehicles and pedestrians share roadways. You 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. 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).

Recommended ways to control risks

When working in a stable or horse training facility, WorkSafe reminds employers and self-employed persons to:

  • 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.

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

  • 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. See the ‘Rules of Racing’ on Racing Victoria’s website for details.
  • 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.

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), 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.

Support for people affected by a serious workplace incident

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

For advice and support, call:

Related information