Horse Racing Ireland launch health, safety and well-being guide for the industry


Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) have launched a health, safety and well-being guide for the horse breeding and racing sectors. The guide is available on request or to download from our website:

The guide is a useful resource for the industry covering key health and safety legislation, detailing best practice, and providing links to additional resources. The health, safety and well-being guide for the horse breeding and racing sectors is industry specific to help create a safe and healthy workplace, which will fulfil all the obligations set down under health and safety law.

As the first step towards fostering improvements in health and safety standards in the industry, HRI commissioned Red C Research in Spring 2022 to conduct a survey of a cross section of members of the industry, both online and by interview, to canvas attitudes towards health and safety and to gauge the levels of health and safety practices in the industry. The survey results revealed:
  • As many as 41% of respondents did not feel well informed on the subject of health and safety (the problem being most urgent in smaller yards)
  • A culture of risk assessment is lacking in the industry, with only 41% confirming that they risk assess at least once a year, and many prepared to admit that they risk assess only in response to a problem emerging
  • No more than 50% of respondents said that they have a current safety statement
  • Only 44% of respondents provide their staff with training, and of those, 58% would provide only informal training, and many are only training new staff members (and many felt the quality of this is declining)
  • There are no uniform standards of health and safety practice in the industry, with the most obvious divide being differences in practice between large and small yards
Carol Nolan, HRI’s Director of People and equuip, said: “The results of the Red C Research survey was invaluable to help us create this guide for all of those who feel poorly informed about health and safety issues and don’t know where to turn for information. We hope, as a first step, it will help everyone in the industry, especially trainers and breeders, understand all the legal and moral obligations required and provide practical tools and advice to help meet those obligations.

“As Minister with responsibility for farm safety, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Martin Heydon TD for his invaluable input and support of this project. We are keen to work with the industry and to provide ongoing support with health and safety best practice tools.”

Launching the report, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Farm Safety, Martin Heydon TD, said: “Being from Kildare, I see first-hand the cultural and economic importance of the horse racing and breeding industry. However, there are a unique set of risks when working with animals like thoroughbred horses. People are at the heart of everything great about the sector and I want to commend Horse Racing Ireland for its commitment to this area. I have no doubt this guide will be a useful asset for the industry in strengthening the culture around health, safety and wellbeing in the horse breeding and racing sectors.”