Horse Vets Found to Have Highest Risk of Civilian Professions in Britain

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Sept. 11, 2014

Horse veterinarians in Great Britain appear to run the highest risk of injury of any civilian occupation in the country, according to the results of the first ever survey on injuries within the profession released Thursday.

The study, commissioned by the British Equine Veterinary Association and conducted by the Institute of Health and Wellbeing and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow, found the risk for vets to be geater than for construction workers, prison guards and fire fighters.

Largely anecdotal information suggested previously that horse vets frequently sustained injuries but the prevalence and type of injury had not been quantified.

BEVA, which represents represents 2,500 veterinary surgeons and undergraduate veterinary students, commissioned the study to quantify and qualify the risks.

A total of 620 equine vets completed a work-related injuries questionnaire between September and November 2013. The results of the study 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 suggest that vets working in equine practice in the UK, thus sustain a very high number of injuries compared to other civilian occupations, including in construction, prisons and fire fighting.

The most common injuries to vets were to leg (29 per cent), followed by the head (23 per cent). The main cause was a kick by a hind limb (49 per cent), followed by a strike with a front limb (11 per cent) and being crushed (five per cent).

Almost 25 per cent of reported injuries required hospital admission with seven percent resulting in loss of consciousness.

Thirty eight percent of the worst injuries to vets was working with “pleasure” horses and almost half when the horse handler was the owner or the client.