I recently read a couple of safety articles and one author had found a neat quote:
"There is no such thing as an accident--it is simply fate, misnamed," Napoleon Bonaparte.
I have my own quote:
"There is no such thing as an accident--they are only incidents."
Another words, no matter how unfortunate the situation, something somewhere probably could have prevented it from happening. The issue is usually having enough knowledge to understand where the problems lie and also checking back regularly to fix things that break.
How can you prevent basic safety accidents around your barn? Remember that your horses are not the only ones that can get injured, so can you. Another wise thing to do is have an outside eye look at your facility and give you honest feedback about what you can do to fix it.
- Give yourself and the horse egress room, and more of it.The wider the stall door, doors out of the barn, and trailer doors – the less the chance of the horse catching a hip or crushing a person while moving though the space. According to National Fire Protection Association standards, there should be egress from a building every 50 feet; yet there are so many barns that are 150 feet long with only an egress at the far ends.
- Minimize slick floors. Neither humans or horses can walk on slick concrete, plywood, or cheap rubber mats with no grip, especially when they get wet. When installing concrete, groom it to give it a texture and a slight angle so that it drains easily. Try not to get the floor wet before you have to lead horses down the aisle, and consider the use of heavy textured rubber mats in the wash rack and inside your horse trailer. One of the worse surfaces for horses is wet asphalt--the oils that exude from hot asphalt can be extremely slick. Many horses have been injured just being led across these surfaces.
- Minimize the ever-present loose nails, wires, splinters, and sharp edges. Horses are tough on their surroundings, but so is Mother Nature. The wind blows and pulls nails loose or drops branches onto fencing. Rain and humidity cause things to become rusty and fall apart. You must do a regular hunt for these types of protrusions and be especially vigilant about failures of your horse’s security system: the fence. Remember to look around inside the stalls and your horse trailer for similar protrusions and dangerous sharp edges.
- Improve lighting around your barn,especially the places that you might go in the dark (feeding, checking on foaling mares, waterers, etc.). Firefighters have a phrase, “There is no reason to suffer in the dark.” They know that a great number of injuries happen when you can’t see what you are doing, and that you aren’t as effective at a task, either. The side benefit is that security of your barn will be greatly increased at the same time. For example, lights can be motion sensored. This is a great way to get the light you need without paying too much for it, if you set it to only stay on while you are present.
- While improving the lighting (#4 above) you will need to hire an electrical contractor to install the electrical for that, and while they are there have them evaluate your barn’s electrical service. If you want to put in a water heater, microwave, and fans (agricultural rated fans only, please!) then you will want to tell them that so that they can make sure your electrical can handle that load. Since electrical issues cause a majority of barn fires (along with burning cigarette butts), you can sleep in peace knowing that you have completed a major task to ensure safety in your barn.
I know that some of you have other ideas for general safety around your facilities. Would you mind sharing your ideas here on this blog? We all learn from each other’s successes and failures.