The mention of the words "health and safety" often seem to strike worry into those who work in the horse industry. I've
seen that look on employers faces when it's mentioned and heard the accusations of ever increasing health and safety legislation
and bureaucracy. In actual fact, there has been very little additional health and safety legislation that has affected the
horse industry over the last eight years. What we are seeing are more civil claims and whether they are successful on or not,
they are costing the horse industry dearly, not only in monetary terms, but also in terms of time and stress of those involved
sometimes having to defend baseless claims.
What is important is that those who work in in the horse industry fully understand the health and safety requirements and
what they need to do in terms of implementation. But if you run or manage a business it isn't going to cost much more than
your time! Preventing people from being harmed by their work and providing a good working environment is what health and safety
is all about. It's not an option -- it's a legal requirement. But there are significant benefits in getting it right - not
least for the employees or anyone else involved with the business including clients and the public. In addition, if representatives
from the horse world can agree with the insurers a set of standards to be adopted, demonstration of compliance with the standards
could result in reduced insurance premiums. But "getting it wrong" can lead to bad publicity and ultimately result in criminal
prosecution, civil claims and being put out of business.
The whole point is that managing health and safety as part of your business really isn't difficult. There are some
equestrian businesses out there who manage it exceedingly well, but also there are those that have accidents waiting to happen.
I've seen some businesses that have really made an effort but haven't quite got it right because they haven't had the information
to enable them to do so. The Health and Safety Executive have produced a substantial amount of very useful information for
businesses. However, if you look, you may well find it difficult to find what is applicable to you. That's where I intend
to help. Pointing you in the right direction. Giving you the tools to do the job and you'll be glad to hear that my help and
most of the information is all available for free!
I'm going to start from the very basics and build up over the next few months. I trust that that won't insult any of you
already managing health and safety in exemplary manner! Where the Health and Safety Executive have produced information and
guidance there is no point in me replicating it -- I'll simply take you to it.
If you run a business the best person to write your Safety Policy, undertake risk assessments and manage safety is you.
If you feel you need help or advice then contact your relevant trade association and I'm sure someone will be able to help
you. But in reality no one knows better than you your business and the risks involved and let's face it managing
health and safety on a daily basis will be down to you and your staff. Health & safety isn't about bureaucracy, it isn't
about having pieces of paper shoved away in drawers, it's about doing what you say you're going to do on those pieces of paper.
Remember "good safety is good business".
Riding Safely would like to comment that within all of the strands of the horse
industry there are generic risks and associated generic solutions. Riding Safely would like to
see a strategic lead in the horse industry to provide standardised health & safety "tools" supported by assistance where
required to enable businesses to manage health & safety more cost effectively and efficiently. The emphasis should be
on providing the tools and then measuring how well they are being used.
If there are any particular areas you'd like to see me cover or you'd like to comment then please do contact me.