The nine-page booklet is being distributed electronically to all BEVA members, together with a useful guide on spotting some of the warning signs horses may display, written by equine vet and behaviourist Gemma Pearson.
Working with horses can be dangerous: a report commissioned by BEVA in 2013 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. Data available from the Health and Safety Executive suggests that this is a very high number of injuries compared to other civilian occupations, including those working in the construction industry, prison service and the fire brigade.
The new guide has been produced ‘by horse vets for horse vets’ with BEVA members contributing their views, experiences and suggestions to early drafts. It provides information for those handling and involved with equine veterinary care; to make workers consider the steps that they can take to make their activities as safe as reasonably possible by assessing a situation and implementing measures to limit the risk that vets and others are exposed to. The guide also aims to challenge prevailing attitudes and culture. It outlines how to make ‘on the spot’ or ‘mental’ risk assessments and when to stop if a procedure becomes unsafe.
The guide is accompanied by practical, illustrated leaflet Signs of Increased Arousal Combined with a Negative Effective State. Written by Gemma Pearson, BVMS Cert AVP (EM) MRCVS who specialises in equine behaviour and learning theory, it explains signs of increased arousal including facial expressions, stance, movement and response.
David Mountford, CEO of BEVA said: “The new guidelines have been carefully developed to ensure that they are as pertinent, pragmatic and helpful as possible for vets in practice. Hopefully they will help to make the equine veterinary workplace a little safer.”