Employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect workers from all known hazards in the workplace. And for workers who work outside and in the wilderness, that duty may include protecting them from wild animals, such as bears, snakes, wolves and even bugs.
A recent grizzly bear attack on a worker in the Yukon illustrates how real this threat can be for workers in certain industries.
At a fly-in mineral exploration camp, two workers had previously seen a female grizzly bear and her two cubs in the area but not recently. On the day of the attack, one of the workers’ dogs barked a warning that the bears had returned.
One worker had just enough time to pull her backpack over her head for protection before the mother bear charged. The bear took a swipe at the worker, knocking her to the ground and leaving two deep scratches in one arm and one on her back. The sow then left the area with her cubs.
The other worker watched the attack from a distance and came to her co-worker’s aid after the bears left. They phoned for help. The victim was flown by helicopter to Whitehorse General Hospital for treatment.
If your workers are at risk of encountering bears on the job, you should train them on how to avoid and handle such encounters. Use this checklist to ensure that your bear safety training covers the necessary areas.
And here are some tips on what to do if you see a bear and if one attacks.