Objectives Equine Veterinary practitioners can sustain significant injuries as a result of their work with horses but the incidence and type of injuries has never been quantified in the UK. Concerns about injury risks led the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) to commission a study of injuries.
The objectives of this study were to
Identify experience of occupational injuries occurring among equine veterinary practitioners (EVs).
Estimate rates of occupational injuries.
Compare accident rates with published UK data.
METHOD A work related injuries questionnaire was developed, piloted and 3000 membership of BEVA surveyed. A workplace inspection was undertaken at an Equine Veterinary hospital. Findings were compared with published UK Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data.
Results 620 EVs completed the survey of whom 80% of respondents reported an injury defined as “an injury or event that required (self) treatment and/or time off work”. Median number of injuries was three.
The workplace inspection confirmed that many traditional working practices were unsafe and there was a lack of systematic safety risk assessment.
Estimates of injury rates per 100,000 per year in EVs were between 5467 (if study is not representative of the rest of the EV population) and 26452 (if study is representative). Data published by the LFS reported rates of 11,320 per 100,000 for all veterinarians including EVs; 10,760 for prison service; 4,760 for construction workers and 4,610 for farm workers.
Conclusion This study has identified equine veterinary practice as one of most hazardous occupations in the UK, when compared with other occupational groups. There is a need to establish safer systems of work and education of EVs and other horse handlers.
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