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Snake bites: An occupation hazard you need to be prepared for

by , 12 March 2013
The news is abuzz with reports of a Kempton Park bookkeeper who was bitten on the face by a Mozambican spitting cobra while sleeping at a lodge in North West. Why should that interest you? Well, according to the World Health Organisation, snake bites are considered an 'occupational hazard'. And that means, you need to have a health and safety plan in place if one of your employees gets bitten by a snake. Here's what it must include...

Werner Bronkhorst, a 25 year old book keeper, was bitten by a snake in his room at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve over the weekend, report IOL.

Sure snake bites occurring in a room aren't very common. But if your employees work outdoors or often travel to remote parts of the country for work, you need to give them health and safety training on what to do if they – or one of their colleagues – are bitten by a snake in the field.

By doing this, you'll be able to ensure your employees follow the right protocol when dealing with a snake bite. Because, knowing what to do, could save a life.

What you should do if your employee is bitten by a snake

'If you or someone at work is bitten by a snake, call for medical attention immediately,' says the Health and Safety Advisor. While waiting for help, you can do the following:

  • Reassure and calm the patient, who'll be very anxious;
  • Examine the area to make sure the wounds are due to fangs;
  • Keep the bite below the level of the heart. This will slow down the uptake of the poison; and
  • Wipe away any venom left on the skin.

And remember, advises the Health and Safety Advisor, the outcome of a snake bite depends on several factors:

  1. Species of snake – often a description of what the snake looked like will help;
  2. Amount of venom injected;
  3. Area of the body;
  4. Victim's current health condition;
  5. Age of victim (child, adult or elderly);
  6. Non-venomous bites can cause anaphylactic reaction (allergic reaction) which can be fatal.

Ensure your employees ask the snake bite victim these questions so they can answer paramedic questions if the victim loses conscious while waiting for medics to arrive on the scene.

You may not always be able to prevent occupational hazards like snake bites from happening in the field. But, by ensuring your employees know the correct health and safety procedures to follow, you can help ensure the incident has a happy ending.

Turn to your Health and Safety Advisor to read more about how you can prevent health ands safety hazards in your workplace 

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