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Health, Safety and Workplace Stresses in the Horse Racing Industry

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Employment
Wordcount: 1910 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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In the workplace as both an employer and an employee it is important to know how to address any work related issues or needs that may occur. In a workplace you are dealing with many different types of people with very different personalities and views.

Not only is it importramt in the workplace to get along civil with your colleges but to also be able to work as a team together to get the job done correctly.

As an employee you must be able to share your views with your team but also listen to their opinions and respectfully take it on board.


Work hours

In your work place you must have a set amount of hours and it is in writing in your terms and conditions of the company which you sign at the beginning of your employment.

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 states that the maximum average working week for many employees cannot exceed is 48 hours. This does not legally mean they cannot work more than 48 hours but it is an average maximum. They do not apply to the Gardaí, Defence Forces, employees who control their own working hours or family employees, farmers etc.

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In the racing industry this can vary. Although you are only supposed to work a certain number of fixed hours, staff often work overtime or get home very late from racing and have to start very early the next morning. Staff are expected to be very flexible even though by law you should not exceed your working hours without a certain amount of hours rest. This is usually a case of their not being enough staff to cover your work.

Employers are required to compensate staff for Sunday working (i.e. pay them more than their normal daily wage) and night workers are entitled to a free health assessment before starting night work and at regular intervals thereafter. It is important to give your staff fair working hours.

This is why there is such a lack of staff in the racing industry as the hours are very long and the pay isn’t very good.

Some of the Rights and Obligations under ‘the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act 1996):

16 and 17 year old workers:

  • Cannot legally be asked to work before 6am in the morning or after 10pm at night.
  • Should have two days off every seven days. These days off should be consecutive, i.e. they should be two days off in a row.
  • Cannot legally be asked to work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.


  • In my job I begin work every work at 7 o clock.
  • We work until 10.30 and then take a half an hour tea break.
  • We resume work then until 12.30
  • We have a lunch break until 3 o clock which is two and a half hours.
  • We begin back work at 3 o clock and work continuously until 5 o clock.
  • This is subject to change if you have to go racing up or down the county which can be long journeys travelling.
  • I am very lucky as my present employer is very fair to his staff with the hours and the pay.
  • In my previous job I would work a lot of overtime with no extra pay and no tea break.
  • I would also go racing late in the evenings and would often not get home till after midnight and half to be up to feed the horses at 5.30am




Generally, the amount of pay you receive for working is a matter for agreement between you and your employer. This is often agreed when you take on the new job as an employee and can change if you receive bonuses or a pay rise.

Minimum wage for an experienced adult employee is €9.80 per hour. An experienced adult employee is an employee who has an employment of any kind in any 2 years.

Minimum wage does not mean that this is the pay you will receive. Usually it is much higher depending on the industry you work in or how well paid your job is.

 In the racing industry money is very poor usually minimum wage for a normal stable hand or exercise rider.

Thankfully as I ride a lot for different trainer and ride work I get paid a much better rate than the average stable hand.

The Irish Stable Staff Association has agreed a new pay deal with the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, which will see experienced stable staff’s wages in Ireland rise from €9.75 per hour to €10.75 per hour. This has come into effect from January  1st.

This is an image at the races last year that I had to get the horse ready , lead them up , cool them off, wash them down , and I did not get home until 11 o clock that night and left the yard at 9 o clock that morning for a total of €50 euro .


In order to prevent workplace injuries the employer is required to:

  • Provide and maintain a safe workplace which uses safe plant and equipment
  • Prevent risks from use of any article or substance and from exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration
  • Prevent any improper conduct or behavior likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk or in danger
  • Provide instruction and training to employees on health and safety if they do not already have it.
  • Provide protective clothing and equipment to employees
  • Appointing a competent person as the organization’s Safety Officer who has the correct training to carry out this role.

As employees we are also expected to do things in the industry to keep us safe and others around us.

This can include:

  • Not to engage in improper behavior that will endanger themselves or others
  • Not to be under the influence of drink or drugs in the workplace as it is highly illegal
  • To undergo any reasonable medical or other assessment if requested to do so by the employer such as drug and alcohol tests
  • To report any defects in the place of work or equipment which might be a danger to health and safety to keep others safe.

In the racing industry safety is very important and should not be taken lightly or overseen without care. Working with horse is a very important and risky job and all employees should be well trained and confident in their job before then are in the situation of having to take charge of any horses in the workplace. This will prevent injury or mistakes.

It is estimated that over 146,000 individuals work in the horse-racing industry. This estimate includes jockeys, trainers, exercise riders, grooms, valets, starting gate attendants, apprentice jockeys, and veterinarians.

There are many risk factors involved when a 115-pound jockey rides a 1,100 pound animal running 40 miles per hour. Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets and body vests, worn by all workers in close proximity to horses could help to reduce the severity of injuries. It is the law that when you are race riding you must wear both an approved body protector and a helmet that meet the correct standard. It is also advised to wear gloves to prevent rope burns or any other injuries to your hands.

Not all injuries occur whist on the horses it is very common for a stable hand to get a kick or bite while working on the ground around the horses. This is why it is very important to be paying attention to your surroundings to try and prevent any injuries.

Job stress/challenges

Working in the racing industry I find can be very stressful. You must be very committed with early starts and late evenings and lots of hard work with little breaks. 

Often because the industry is badly paid there is a lot of workers who are not dedicated to their job and just want a weekly wage. This makes it much harder for us as good members of staff to try and get the best out of the horses.

In my job another reason why we find it stressful is because as riders we are constantly trying to maintain weight so you are not only light enough to race ride but also light enough to ride piece of fast week at home which makes your job much more enjoyable. You are enable to do this if you are too heavy as it is not ideal if the horse is carrying to much weight.

Another challenge is if horses get injured or a race doesn’t go to plan you have to be able to think on your own initiative and make your own mind up what you thinks is the best thing to do.

Attire for work and career progression

In the workplace you should be dressed appropriately. With horses it is important that you are wearing the correct footwear, gloves, and a helmet and body protector.

As an employee you should be striving in your industry for work progression whether that means getting a promotion or moving to a better job with better pay.

In the racing industry as I am an amateur rider I hope to in the near future progress to being a professional jockey to make it a career. In order to do this I have to work hard and get lots of experience. I am learning and building my knowledge every day and hope to be very successful.


  • The irish field
  • Google images
  • Horse and hound
  • Citizen information


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