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Health and Safety and Horses

Whether working with horses or simply enjoying them, health and safety is an issue which must be taken seriously. Learn about rules, regulations and responsibilities herein.

If you own or operate a riding school, livery stable or any other kind of horse related business then it is vitally important that you make sure you are fully compliant with all relevant health and safety legislation.

Diligent observance of the requirements of health and safety legislation is important because a failure to comply can result in the health and safety executive undertaking a formal inspection or investigation and enforcement action can follow. Many health and safety requirements carry “strict liability” meaning that there is no valid defence for failing to meet these requirements. In addition, a failure to fully comply will weigh heavily against you in any civil claim for compensation if someone is injured whilst on your business premises.

It is also important to note that health and safety legislation is subject to change and over time, requirements can be made stricter and practices and procedures which were once reasonably widespread may be judged unsafe and it is your responsibility as a stable owner to be aware of these changes and to adapt your procedures accordingly.

There are several health and safety requirements which are particularly important for the owners of horse related businesses:

Employers Liability Insurance

The Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 requires all businesses that employ people in any capacity to hold employers liability insurance. The minimum level of cover which a business must have in order to legally trade is £5 million and in many cases, businesses will have at least £10 million in employers liability cover. This insurance was implemented to guard against businesses acting recklessly with regard to the health and safety of their employees, and then being unable to meet compensation claims when employees were injured.

Depending on the type of activity which your business undertakes, it may also be necessary for you to hold public liability insurance. This is particularly likely to be the case for riding stables.

Accident reporting

The “Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995” (RIDDOR) impose a statutory duty on businesses to report certain types of injuries to the Health and Safety Executive. The list of injuries which are reportable includes loss of consciousness caused by the ingestion of a harmful substance, electric shocks and chemical burns. However, the reportable injuries which are most likely to concern equine businesses are breaks and fractures, and the dislocation of hip or shoulder joints.

In addition to this, wherever there is an accident which results in a member of the public being taken to hospital, the health and safety executive must be notified of this.

Health and Safety assessments

Periodic risk assessments are one of the best ways to reduce risks in the workplace, and to ensure that you are fully compliant with your health and safety obligations. The regular carrying out of risk assessments may also be a condition of your employers or public liability insurance. An expert health and safety solicitor or legal consultant can undertake a full risk assessment and compliance review, and highlight any issues which need to be dealt with before they cause trouble for your business.