A safety alert has been issued after incidents involving station hands riding horses without helmets. Not all cattle stations ensure station hands wear helmets when riding horses despite industry promotion. Riders instead wear cooler wide brimmed felt hats for comfort in the hot North West of Australia. Other stations require station hands to wear helmets only for the first year until they have been assessed as skilled enough to ride without a helmet.

These practices are unsafe, the WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety recommend all workers must wear a safety approved riding helmet. “Even highly trained horses and riders can have incidents which can lead to serious injury or death.”

Significant risks relating to horses include losing control of horses causing the rider to fall. A rider’s head maybe 2.5 to 3 meters from the ground, so a fall may cause their head to hit the ground with force. Being kicked by a horse is also a significant risk that can result in serious or fatal injury.

Risk assessments should be used by stations for workers required to handle horses. Employers have the responsibility to ensure employees are not exposed to hazards such as falling off a horse, receiving impact to their head or being kicked by a horse while not wearing a helmet.

Safety considerations should include:

  • The rider’s confidence skills and ability
  • Horse health and predictability
  • Environment e.g. weather
  • Work activity e.g. mustering
  • Matching horses and riders based on temperament and experience.
  • Ensuring appropriate PPE e.g. broad-brimmed helmets
  • Helmets must be safety approved and in good condition (helmets have a general usable life of 5 years unless used very frequently)
  • Employees should be trained to use PPE correctly

ProcessWorx has experience working with WA stations, for more information about the safety services we offer contact us on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au

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