New report into health and safety in Australian horse racing
31 Mar 2011
A comprehensive study into health and safety of Australian jockeys and track riders was released today by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC).
The report includes a review of commonly used jockey helmets, a survey of jockeys’ safety equipment, and a gathering of information on jockey injuries. A key outcome of the research was the development of a jockey helmet prototype which may offer jockeys greater protection from head injuries resulting from falls.
Researcher, Keith Bulloch from Racing NSW, said improving jockey safety was an ongoing priority for the racing industry, which has the National Jockey Safety Committee reviewing a range of safety issues.
“The risk factors associated with horse riding are significant and so the health and safety of horses and their riders is a primary goal for the horse racing industry,” Mr Bulloch said.
“But to achieve this, we need to understand more about how and why injuries occur, the types of injuries being sustained, and what strategies could potentially be put in place to reduce the incidence and severity of injuries in the future.”
Mr Bulloch said the research found:
Fractures and sprains were the most common injuries
Injuries to the shoulder and upper/lower limbs contribute to approximately 60% of the injuries reported in insurance claims
The total injury rate for NSW was 0.17% or approximately one injury every 500 starts
Barrier injuries accounted for more than a quarter of all injuries
“The report recommends further research and development into alternative body protection, particularly for the upper limbs, the shoulder region and the lower limbs, particularly the leg and foot,” Mr Bulloch said.
Another focus of the research was an evaluation of jockey equipment, including helmets.
“Australian jockeys and track work riders wear helmets approved to local safety standards, however a new European High Performance Standard has been introduced that promotes a higher level of impact protection against head trauma than other standards,” he said.
“None of the Australian helmets tested met the requirements of the European high performance standard, however it should be noted that it is unlikely that there is a helmet available worldwide that meets this standard.
“As part of this research, two prototype helmets were constructed, with test results confirming that they would meet or come very close to meeting the high European requirements. Work is currently being undertaken in partnership with a helmet manufacturer to develop these prototypes, prior to them being potentially made available commercially.”
Health and Safety in Australian horse racing is available at www.rirdc.gov.au.