Occupational Health Pilot paves the way for enhanced welfare provision to racing’s people

15 Dec 2016 Education/Training Welfare

  • One-year Occupational Health Pilot has been delivering health and wellbeing advice to stable staff in the Newmarket area
  • A total of 18 Tackroom Talks were delivered to 396 racing staff
  • Occupational Health Pilot was funded by The Racing Foundation
  • Findings from the Pilot will be used to feed in to long-term goal for national welfare provision

Over the last twelve months, RACEFIT at The Racing Centre in Newmarket have been delivering an Occupational Health Pilot, funded by The Racing Foundation, for stud and stable staff in the area.

The one year pilot has supported the physical well being of stud and stable staff in Newmarket. Throughout the pilot almost 400 racing staff have received interactive Tackroom Talks and occupational health clinics delivered by Pippa Stanford, a specialist occupational health nurse.

The Tackroom Talks were tailored to the individual needs of each yard or stud and consisted of short interactive workshops, with the option of a one-to-one ‘mini health check’. They increased awareness and knowledge of the importance of good physical health and well being and importantly how to access support available.

Topics included hydration, nutrition, cardiovascular health, safer manual handling, prevention and management of musculoskeletal injuries and alcohol awareness. In total 18 Tackroom Talks were delivered to 396 racing staff.

The key aims of the pilot were to improve availability and quality of specialist injury rehabilitation support available to stable and stud staff and jockeys, thereby helping to improve physical health and well being and reduce the number of workdays lost to injury, though prevention, early intervention and the provision of suitable support.

The pilot enabled employers to access a formalised referral pathway for employees off sick or with health related issues. The referral compromised of a clinical assessment followed by written feedback provided to the employer, cases were then followed up in order to review progress and support their return to work.

The pilot has now received a 2 year extension from the Racing Foundation to ensure a further development of the programmes. The schemes continuation will be used to support a proposal to implement a national programme of occupational health provision to add value to the multitude of welfare services offered by Racing Welfare and Injured Jockeys Fund. These services include the recent release of Racing’s 24/7 support line and the increased number of welfare officers available to support racing’s people.

Matt Mancini, Welfare Development Manager at the BHA, said:

“Ultimately, the provision of comprehensive occupational health and welfare support to racing’s people has multiple benefits for all concerned, particularly employers and their staff.

“In the long term this can help reduce turnover and industry costs related to recruitment and training of new employees by encouraging staff retention.

“As an industry, British horseracing should aim to provide a world class benefits package to a world class workforce. This service development has proven to be a positive step towards achieving that goal and I look forward to working collaboratively with other stakeholders to see how we can expand on this pilot to create a national provision in the future.

“The industry is very lucky to have The Racing Foundation to fund these initiatives to help the sport to grow and it is thanks to them that this project was even possible.”

Rob Hezel, Chief Executive of The Racing Foundation said:

“We are delighted with the progress and results being achieved by the Occupational Health Pilot as well as the interest and support it has generated with trainers and their staff in Newmarket.

“The health and welfare of racing’s staff is of great importance to the industry and the Trustees of the Racing Foundation are happy to extend funding for the pilot by a further 2 years to ensure development and sustainability of the programmes.

“It is important that stud and stable staff across the country have access to similar support and the Trustees are delighted to pledge further funding to ensure the findings from the Newmarket pilot are used to investigate and implement the delivery of services at other racing centres across the UK.”

Annika Arnold, RACEFIT Manager, said:

“Through the Occupational Health Pilot we have impacted positively on the health and well being of over 400 racing staff in the Newmarket area through Tackroom Talks, mini health checks and Occupational Health clinics. The service has provided support to those suffering with ill-health or injury to return to work safely and effectively with the goal being to optimise their performance in their job role.”

Notes to Editors:

1. The pilot, funded by the Racing Foundation came under their ‘enhancing injury rehabilitation services for racing’s people’ initiative, linked to findings from the BHA’s review of welfare provision to people working in racing (2013). The findings highlighted notable existing provision through charitable and independent organisations such as Racing Welfare, the Injured Jockey’s Fund and the Professional Jockey’s Association, but identified a lack of specialist Occupational Health support to stable staff.

2. The Pilot was independently evaluated by Public Perspectives Ltd, with findings demonstrating that employees off work who were referred to the OH clinics returned to work more quickly and importantly, have remained in work. The evaluation also highlighted that overall the OH Pilot model was very well received by racing staff and employers that engaged with it and it has had a notable and positive impact on helping racing staff improve (and maintain) their physical health and return to work or improve their performance.