Australians are now banning those ever extremely dangerous cowboy hats.

It is about time someone saw the danger in cowboy hats for those who work on ranches.

It all stems from the death of a cowboy, who suffered massive head injuries after being trampled in a fall from a horse while mustering bulls in July 2001. His sole protection was the tattered hat provided him for shading from the sun.

The New South Wales state government brought charges against the ranch owner, who employed 23-year-old Daniel Croker, convicting and fining the company $72,000 last month for breaches of safety, including failure to provide the horseman with an equestrian helmet.

Ranch manager Nicholas Ennis told investigators he knew of no ranch in Australia that made cowboys wear helmets except while mustering on motorbikes.

Since the tragedy at the ranch in Merriwagga, about 300 miles west of Sydney, helmets have become compulsory for working in the saddle there, but ranchers are calling for industrial laws to be changed to reflect the differences between working in the Outback and in a city factory.

News South Wales Farmers' Association president Mal Peters warned that substituting helmets for broad-brimmed hats would increase the hazards of skin cancer and heat stroke. He said there is no helmet a farmer can use when the temperature reaches 113 degrees. "For a farmer who's mustering a mob of sheep, moving very slowly behind them without any air circulation, he or his employee may be subject to heat stroke," Peters said

It actually is nice that the article points out the trade-offs that exist with different types of protection. One would think that the cowboys themselves might be best able to make that judgement.

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