Jockeys safety study supported by ARB

The Australian Racing Board (ARB) has welcomed a study examining the incidence of race-day falls in Australia.

The ARB said the study published in the Australian Medical Journal confirmed the importance racing authorities placed on improving health and safety standards.


The ARB, the state racing authorities and RISA Pty Ltd all provided assistance to the authors of the study.

"We welcome this research as reinforcing the importance of our ongoing efforts to make health and safety in Australian racing as safe as possible," ARB chairman Bob Bentley said.

"While the study found that the rates of injury in Australia were similar to, or in some cases lower than, other countries, the challenge we have set ourselves is to do whatever is possible to take safety levels in the Australian racing industry to an even higher level."

The study found being a jockey was more dangerous than being a boxer, and was only just outranked in the most dangerous job stakes by off-shore fishermen.

Skydivers, motorbike racers, loggers and pilots face less risk of being killed than the lightly-framed riders of thoroughbreds.

Hobart-based researchers have scoured four years of stewards reports which cover more than 75,000 races run Australia-wide from August 2002 to July 2006.

They counted 3,360 race falls, which resulted in 861 serious injuries and five jockey deaths.

Bentley said measures introduced in recent years to improve safety levels included:

* compulsory wearing of vests in races, trials and trackwork

* establishment of the National Jockey Safety Review Committee

* the appointment of a National Medical Officer

"One of the key recommendations that was made to the Australian Racing Board by the National Jockey Safety Review Committee (NJSRC), was that the ARB should appoint a national medical officer," Bentley said.

"In 2008 the ARB appointed Dr Caron Jander."

"Dr Jander combines extensive sports medicine experience with a strong background in OH and S, and we believe that her expertise will make a material improvement to rider safety."

Bentley said the work undertaken by Dr Jander included the development of health policies for riders in relation to weight and ongoing reviews of protective gear.