Posted Wednesday 1 June 2016 at 8:24 am,
updated Wednesday 1 June 2016 at 12:07 pm
New South Wales is set to become the first state to develop a horse-riding code of practice to cut the number of accidents involving horses.
There have been almost 2,000 workers' compensation claims relating to horses in the past five years, costing more than $14 million, the State Government has revealed.
The new code would ensure people working with beginner riders were adequately trained, and rider experience properly matched with horse temperament.
"This code of practice will assist workplaces to prevent horse-related accidents by ensuring that people working with beginner riders are adequately trained," Better Regulation Minister Victor Dominello said.
"One worker in NSW is hospitalised every day due to horse-related injuries."
The changes follow the death of 18-year-old jillaroo TAFE student Sarah Waugh, who died from head and neck injuries after falling from a bolting horse that was unsuitable for a beginner.
Ms Waugh was learning to ride as part of a TAFE course at Dubbo in the NSW central west.
At an inquest into her death a NSW coroner criticised TAFE for not being thorough enough in assessing horses used for beginner riders and said the ex-racehorse Dargo had been obtained for use just days after running in a race.
Ms Waugh's parents Juliana and Mark Waugh campaigned for changes to reduce the likelihood of incidents like that which killed their daughter.
Some teachers have 'no qualifications'
Nina Arnott from the Australian Horse Industry Council, who advised on the new code, said one of the problems in the industry was people running trail-riding businesses with little experience.
"People will take on anybody that can ride a horse and give them a few minutes of introduction to how they want it done and perhaps have them ride out once or twice with their clients and the next thing they're in charge of a group that has never been on a horse in their life, running a trail ride," she said.
"Which means they're riding out of an enclosed area where the risks are higher, and there are many places that still do that with very little attention to detail and the people who do that have no qualifications and often no first-aid qualifications.
"There may be one person out with six total-beginners on horses and the person has had no qualifications or background or external verification that they can do the job."
She hopes the new code of practice would mean no more lives would be lost.
"This is the intention and drive behind it for all of us is to try and prevent accidents and deaths around horses," she said.
Jodie Deakes from SafeWork New South Wales said workplaces in the state would have to comply with the new code.
"With codes in New South Wales they can be called up in terms of court proceedings if need be," she said.
"In terms of our actions against any workplace incident is a very considered process, and it needs to be based on a number of factors."
Mr Dominello said of the 133 fatalities that occurred Australia-wide between 2000 and 2014, 18 per cent involved people under the age of 20.
"We must redouble our efforts to improve safety across the industry and in particular I commend Juliana and Mark Waugh for their ongoing advocacy on this issue," he said.
The NSW Government is encouraging the community to have its say on the new code, which is expected to be in place by the end of the year.
Consultation closes on June 30.