Safety in the saddle – do you know when to call it?

If you work with horses, you probably know someone who has been badly hurt, or you might have had a run-in yourself.

It’s not surprising given one worker is hospitalised every day in Australia due to a horse-related injury.

For every injured worker, another nine people are hurt.

New or inexperienced riders are particularly vulnerable in workplaces like riding schools, equestrian centres and trail riding businesses but even experienced riders can be caught off guard.

If someone gets seriously hurt at your business, you will have to make a call on whether the incident is notifiable, and if so, let SafeWork NSW know.

An incident might be unrelated to the type of work being carried out, like a severe electrical shock in the staff kitchen. Or it might involve horses directly such as being thrown or crushed, however, if someone is seriously injured – it’s notifiable.

A notifiable incident involves serious injury, illness, dangerous incidents and death.

If you are an employer, or other person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you should make sure you’re clear on what these four things are. Some examples of notifiable horse-related incidents include:

  • if someone falls off a horse and loses any bodily movement or consciousness (even momentarily) or suffers head trauma requiring medical treatment or hospital admission
  • if someone is badly cut and requires stitching or has any sort of spinal injury
  • if someone gets an infection through contact with animals you work with or come into contact with at work, e.g. Hendra Virus
  • if someone is bitten by a horse and is admitted to hospital or requires medical treatment
  • if someone has a ‘near miss’ which seriously endangers their or someone else’s health or safety.

In all cases – treat the injured person first – and then call SafeWork.

SafeWork’s Director of Business, Strategy and Performance, Christine Tumney, said notification results in better outcomes for prevention.

“Common injuries can be seen as normal risks of the job, but really, no one should be getting injured as a normal part of their day,” Ms Tumney said.

“In the three year period from 2008-11 there were 1,108 workers’ compensation claims for horse related-injuries and this picture of risk depends largely on notification.

“We need to know who is getting injured and why – and then we can work on reducing those risks and keeping people safe at work.

“Make sure you give us a call whether the injury happens to you, an employee, contractor or a member of the public.”

For further information about incident notifications visit or call 13 10 50.

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