AN event was held recently at CAFRE, Enniskillen Campus, the purpose of which was to heighten students’ awareness of a range of issues relating to equine health and safety.
Four talks were delivered in the morning session. Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety with the British Horse Society covered road safety focusing on the horse and rider and the ‘Dead or Dead slow’ campaign. Peter Fell, Eventing Ireland discussed cross-country course and fence design. Michio Clarke, University College Dublin covered his research into head injury and head protection in Equestrian sport. Zelda Johnston, Environmental Health Officer for Fermanagh and Omagh District Council presented on Zoonotic diseases.
In the afternoon, there were six workshop sessions focusing on vehicle checks and towing safety (representatives from the PSNI), protective equipment including hats, body protectors and hi-viz clothing and equipment (Sharon Manderson, Old Mill Saddlery), MIM clips for cross-country fences (Peter Fell), observation when manoeuvring vehicles including jeeps and horseboxes (Malcolm Downey, Health and Safety Executive NI), tack and equipment safety and design and construction of show jumps (delivered by Julie McSwiggan and Gabriel Tunney respectively, members of the CAFRE staff team).
Ten take home messages from the day were:
1) Pass horses wide and slow (Maximum speed of 15 miles per hour);
2) Wear appropriate hi-viz on horse and handler when out and about;
3) Make sure that the colour of the hi-viz is appropriate for the environmental background;
4) Wear riding helmets compliant with current standards;
5) Replace helmets after a fall;
6) Meet all legal requirements when towing in relation to licencing, towing weights and having well maintained vehicles that are free from defects including lights and tyres;
7) Make sure that a wide range of factors are taken into consideration when designing and building cross-country courses, including terrain, standard of competition, position of fence on the course and use suitable materials;
8) Use frangible pins or MIM clips when appropriate on fences to reduce the risk of rotational falls;
9) Think visibility when manoeuvring vehicles – make sure windows and mirrors are clean, lighting is good, additional mirrors are fitted on buildings to improve vision, reversing cameras are fitted and remember that a person directing a vehicle cannot be seen unless they can see the driver’s eyes;
10) Animals can transmit disease to humans – practise high standards of personal hygiene, including rigorous hand washing prior to eating or smoking if there has been any contact with animals. If you are ill and visit your General Practitioner, let them know that you work with animals.