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Safety Recommendations for the Stable, Barn Yard, and Horse/Livestock Structures
Marjorie R. Margentino, Former Program Associate in Animal Science; Karyn Malinowski, Ph.D., Director of the
Equine Science Center; Sara R. Malone, Department of Animal Sciences
Revised July 2007
Fact Sheet #606
Every year there are an alarming number of farm-related injuries
nationwide. In 2001 alone, there were an estimated 75,000
work-related agricultural injuries involving adults working on farms
and over 22,000 involving children. Farm owners and managers must
make a concerted effort to ensure safety around the farm and reduce
farm-related accidents. Buildings are the site for almost 30% of all
farm-related injuries. To help reduce the number of accidents and
injuries to employees, visitors and stock, care needs to be taken to
ensure that buildings and the surrounding areas meet common safety
standards. This fact sheet will help owners and managers to identify
areas of concern and how to correct any possible problems.
Turnouts and Pastures
- There should be no unnecessary trash or debris lying around
inside or outside of buildings. In addition to being unsightly, it
can attract rodents, start or spread a fire, and could cause an
injury or fall to a person or animal.
- Any ornamental shrubbery around the exterior of the barn
should not be poisonous to livestock. Several resources are
available online and in print to help you identify potentially
harmful plant species, these include www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/index.html
- “No Smoking” signs should be posted at all exterior doorways.
Have sand buckets for cigarette butts available at the doors. “No
Smoking” signs should also be posted in lounges, bathrooms and in
several other conspicuous places around the barn.
- The correct size and type of fire extinguisher should be
located at every exterior door, in the middle of long aisles and
next to the main electrical panel box. Fire exits should be
- Every farm/stable should have an emergency first aid kit for
both humans and horses/livestock. A phone with posted emergency
numbers should be easily accessible.
- Ample Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved lighting should
be available for maximum visibility around the exterior of the
building and throughout the interior. Wiring and switches should
be encased in metal, weather-proof boxes, and out of reach of
- The building should have lightning rods and be properly
- Doorways and aisles should be free of obstructions and
sharp projections, e.g. hardware, and be 8 feet wide in horse
- Ceilings need to have a height of 8-12 feet. Door frames
should be a minimum of 8 feet high with a minimum width of 4 feet
and aisles should be at least 8 feet wide.
- Windows need to be inaccessible to horses and livestock,
covered with bars or screening and made of safety glass.
- Stall and pen walls should be smooth, free of all
projections, and of adequate size for the number of animals to
be housed and to prevent casting. Stall doors should have
secure latches and either slide or swing outward.
- Water sources should be grounded to prevent accidental
- Feed tubs and water buckets should be smooth, clean and
placed securely at the proper height so that the animals
cannot become entangled.
- Flooring should be easy to keep clean and provide traction
for animals, especially those with shoes. Excessively rough
flooring can cause abnormal wear, soreness and bruised feet
especially in cattle and swine. Any rotten floor boards should
be replaced immediately.
- Safe and appropriate areas should be maintained to secure
horses. All cross-ties and other ties should have safety
- Grooming and wash stalls should be in open areas and be
clean and well-drained to prevent wet and/or icy barn floors.
- Hay storage needs to be away from heat and electrical
sources, and if at all possible kept in a separate building
from where livestock and horses are housed.
- Stairs to haylofts should have hand rails and be kept free
of slippery substances and clutter. Railings should be
installed around loft and ladder openings, and ladders should
be firmly attached to the wall.
- Hay and bedding should be stacked so as not to topple
- Low beams and pipes (under 7 ft. clearance), steps or
uneven floors should be marked.
- Tack rooms need adequate racks and storage areas to keep
equipment off the floor and out of the path of traffic.
- Storage areas should be large enough to keep shovels,
pitchforks, wheel barrows, etc. safely away from animals.
Items should be hung so that people cannot strike their heads
- Hoses should be neatly hung in wash rack areas so that
people and animals cannot become entangled in them.
- Grain storage systems should be rat-proof, weather-proof
and not accessible to horses and livestock.
- Areas around vents and fans should be kept clear. Fans
should be properly maintained and cleaned frequently.
Garbage receptacles should be available for the deposit of
refuse, baling twine and wire.
- Turnout paddocks and pasture fencing should be sturdy, 4
to 6 feet in height, and able to keep livestock in and
unwanted “visitors” out. Any protrusion on which stock may
become caught should be removed. Fencing material should be
suitable for the type of livestock being housed. Loose wires
and broken boards or rails should be attended to immediately.
- Gates should be a minimum of 4 feet wide, swing freely and
have no sharp edges or corners.
- Footing should be well-drained and free of ruts and
- Pastures/turnouts should be free of debris, foreign
objects and toxic plants. Check with the Equine Science
Center, www.esc.rutgers.edu, for toxic plants common in horse
- Machinery and equipment should not be left in pastures and
- Ponds, irrigation and open drainage ditches should be
- Fallen branches and tree stumps should be removed.
- Washouts should be fixed promptly.
- Any bridges should be strong enough to support horses and
- Periodic pasture checks should be made to ascertain that
no poisonous plants are growing in or around the pasture area.
Arenas and Jump Courses
- Roads and driveways should be wide, free of deep ruts
- Low-hanging tree branches and shrubs should be trimmed
- Gates should be wide enough for machinery and trucks, and
set far enough back so that vehicles are off the main road
when stopping to open or close the gate.
- Overhead wires should be high enough for trucks, trailers,
tractors, and other
equipment to pass under.
- There should be 10-foot wide fire/emergency lanes around
all buildings and structures.
- Vehicles should only park in designated areas to keep
roadways open for emergency vehicles.
- Vehicle and trailer parking should not be permitted next
- Vehicular traffic should proceed slowly and with caution.
- Speed limit signs of 15 mph or lower should be posted and
enforced. “Caution: Horse Crossing” signs are available
through many retailers.
- Arenas and courses should have ample, suitable footing
free from ruts, holes and unevenness.
- Riding ring fencing should be a minimum of 4 feet high and
of adequate strength.
- All overhead and protruding branches should be cut back so
as not to be a hazard.
- All accessory equipment (e.g., jumps, trail obstacles,
barrels, poles) should be in good condition. Any broken or
unstable items should be fixed or replaced immediately. It is
important that all equipment be built and maintained according
to good safety practices and that items such as jump cups
easily break away if a horse or rider falls on them.
- Rings and jump courses should not attract attention from
“outside” such as skateboarders, dirt bikers or all-terrain
- Gates should be secured so as to deny entry to
- Areas around the barns, rings and pastures should be free from debris.
- Ponds, large water storage tanks and waterways should be fenced and posted with “no
swimming” and “no fishing” signs to deter trespassers.
- Hazardous passageways, hay drops, manure pits, etc. should
be properly fenced and maintained.
- Colorado State University. Guide to Poisonous Plants. A. Knight. May 2006.
- Cornell University. Poisonous Plants Informational Database. 2005.
- National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS). 2004. 2001 Adult and Childhood
- National Safety Council/Farm Family Insurance Company. 1990. “Your Farm Safety Is
- National Safety Council. 1975. “Hazard Checklist For Agriculture.”
- Reinsurance Association of Minnesota. 1983. Fire Safety In Agricultural Buildings.
- Roberts, William J., Buildings For Pleasure Horses. 1979. Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Other Related Rutgers Cooperative Extension Fact Sheets
Margentino, M. and Malinowski, 1991. “Accident-Proofing Farms and
This publication was made possible in part by a grant from the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Program on Agricultural Health
Promotion Systems for New Jersey.
© 2007 by Rutgers Cooperative Extension, NJAES, Rutgers, The State
University of New Jersey.
Desktop publishing by Rutgers Department of Communications. Revised: