Being a horse vet may be the riskiest civilian occupation in Britain and key veterinary organisations intend to do something about it.
The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has confirmed it is working with other major veterinary bodies in Britain to address the injury risks posed to equine vets.
The move follows the shocking results of the 2013 survey on work-related injuries among equine practitioners in Britain.
A total of 620 equine vets completed the work-related injuries questionnaire between September and November 2013.
The results indicated that an equine vet could expect to sustain between seven and eight work-related injuries that impeded them from practicing, during a 30-year working life.
This may well represent the highest injury risk among civilian jobs – even greater than those faced by firefighters.
Representatives from BEVA, the British Veterinary Association, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Veterinary Defence Society (an insurer) were joined by vet school equine department heads, major equine veterinary practices, together with the survey authors, for round-table discussions on the findings.
They have subsequently drawn up a consensus statement to pinpoint the major obstacles and key objectives to minimise the risk of workplace injuries to equine vets.
The next phase will explore how reporting can be improved to help with the development of practical measures to reduce the risk of serious or fatal injuries.
The British thoroughbred industry’s recent work to implement safer working practices may be followed to help draw up realistic guidelines.
“There is a clear need to establish safer systems of work, and education of the profession and other animal handlers,” BEVA’s new president, Mark Bowen, said.
“A key for longevity of future safety is the training of veterinary students and newly qualified equine veterinary surgeons. This will help ensure they are aware of the most risky procedures and the methods they should employ to remain safe as reasonably practicable while working with horses.”
The study which revealed the level of risk to equine vets was co-funded by the British Equine Veterinary Association and the Veterinary Defence Society. It was led by veterinary epidemiologist Tim Parkin of the University of Glasgow Veterinary School and supported by medical professionals at Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow.