Imagine walking up the driveway to your client or customer's home only to have a dog burst out of the front door, growling and baring its teeth in full attack mode. If you are lucky, you won't have to find out if the dog's bark is worse than its bite.
For thousands of people who enter a homeowner's property to do their work the risk of dog attacks on the job is a frightening reality. At risk workers include delivery personnel, letter carriers, utility workers, and real estate agents. Even loud barking and the unpredictability of the situation can be unnerving. Canada Post reports that on average, there are 500 dog-related incidents a year involving Canada Post employees. The U.S. Postal Service reports that annually 5,700 of their workers are victimized by dogs. Recovery from a severe dog bite can take months or years, and in some cases, the worker can be scarred for life, both physically and emotionally.
Dog bites are more common during the summertime when owners allow their pets more outdoor time in the warm weather, and as letter carriers or regular personnel known to the dog take vacation. Workers replacing vacationing colleagues are probably not familiar to the dog and therefore the dog may have more of a tendency to want to protect their owner's property. Even smaller dogs are capable of inflicting serious injuries to people they feel may be trespassing on their owners' property.
Avoid the bite
In certain situations, even the gentlest dog will bite. There are steps you can take to protect yourself from being attacked or bitten on the job:
- Resist the urge to give treats to dogs, no matter how friendly the animal may seem to be.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the dog even if it is on a leash.
- Avoid approaching a dog that is sleeping, barking, snarling, eating or caring for puppies. If they feel vulnerable they may fight to protect their territory.
- If you believe a dog is about to attack, position yourself so that you have something between you and the dog, such as a tree, bench, post, backpack or bicycle.
- Don't run past a dog as it will naturally want to chase and catch you.
- Never approach a dog that appears to be in pain.
Reduce the risk: what dog owners can do
Dog bites can be prevented. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) suggests that dogs that are properly trained and socialized around people and other dogs are not likely to bite people. If you are a dog owner, you need to act responsibly and take the necessary measures to reduce the risk of your dog biting or attacking anyone.
- Have your pet spayed or neutered before six months of age as it can help reduce aggressive behaviour.
- Take your dog to obedience classes to learn how to train and control your dog as well as to help make your dog people-safe.
- Keep pets leashed and away from mail slots, mail boxes, and the front of the house or areas where delivery people may be approaching from the street, at least during delivery hours.
- Before accepting delivery at your front door place your pet in a separate room and close the door.
- Don't let your child take mail from the letter carrier in front of your dog as your dog's instinct to protect the family may trigger an attack.
To protect their employees from possible injury, some employers, such as Canada Post, are taking steps to stop delivery to households that present risks of dog attacks until the owners address the situation.
Preventing dog bites, Canada Post
Dog Bite Awareness Card [PDF], Canada Post
Dog bite prevention, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
Dog bite prevention tips, U.S. Postal Service
Needlestick injuries are a major injury and health hazard for health care workers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are about 385,000 sharps-related injuries every year in the United States among health care workers in hospitals. Most reported sharps injuries involve nursing staff however laboratory staff, housekeepers, physicians and other health care workers are also injured.
Accidental punctures by contaminated needles can inject hazardous fluids, including blood into the body and transmit infectious diseases, especially blood-borne viruses such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Even small amounts of infectious fluid can spread certain diseases.
To raise awareness among health care workers about their risk of workplace exposure to bloodborne pathogens, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed its STOP STICKS campaign. The campaign is intended to help prepare and motivate health care workers to protect themselves from sharps injuries and to provide organizations with tools and strategies for establishing safety culture in a sharps injury prevention program.
The STOP STICKS campaign's website provides guidance and resources such as posters, videos, and newsletter articles to help organizations tailor the campaign to meet their specific needs and raise awareness of this important health issue. NIOSH reports that the campaign has had a positive impact on the knowledge, behaviours, and attitudes of health care workers - all of which is intended to ultimately reduce injuries and keep workers safe.
STOP STICKS campaign, NIOSH
Needlestick injuries fact sheet, CCOHS
Health and Safety To Go
CCOHS produces free monthly podcasts on a wide variety of topics designed to keep you current with information, tips and insights into the health, safety and well-being of working Canadians. You can download the audio segment to your computer or MP3 player and listen to it at your own convenience...or on the go!
This month's edition of Health and Safety To Go! features podcasts on the hazards roadside workers face on the job, and tips to protect yourself from bee and wasp stings.
In this month's face to face episode, Roadside Safety, Mark Ordeman, Manager of Transportation at WorkSafeBC discusses the safety hazards faced each day by those who work on or near roads including emergency responders, construction workers, utility workers and tow truck drivers. Learn how WorkSafeBC, in an effort to protect workers, is raising awareness of the roadside safety issues through their "Cone Zone" campaign.
The podcast runs 5:13 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.
Protecting Yourself Against Bee Stings shares tips on how you can protect yourself from bee and wasp stings when working outdoors and extra precautions you can take if you have bee or wasp sting allergies.
The podcast runs 4:36 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.
Encore podcast: Lightning Safety
It's been a summer of active weather all over the country and we have had our share of severe lightning storms. Learn what precautions to take to protect yourself and stay safe during a storm.
The podcast runs 5:17 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.
See the complete list of podcast topics. Better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes and don't miss a single episode.
Pressured. Worried. Tense. Anxious. Unenthusiastic. Disinterested. If these words describe how you feel while at work, you may be experiencing workplace stress. These negative feelings can result from a mismatch - or imbalance - between the demands placed on you as a worker and your ability to meet those demands.
There is a wide range of factors which can bring about this gap, including organization, management, job design, and non-work stressors.
The new Stress in the Workplace e-course from CCOHS introduces you to the complex issue of workplace stress and its multitude of factors, with a focus on stress that originates on the job, while also discussing how non-work stress can affect performance.
Workers and managers alike will learn to identify signs of workplace stress, as well as measures to prevent, eliminate or reduce stress in the workplace.
Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of organizational factors - including the ways in which work is organized. Strategies for employers and workers to manage personal stress will also be addressed.
Note that this course does not address "critical stress", as may be experienced in response to a traumatic or catastrophic event.
Learn more and register for this e-course.
More resources on stress from CCOHS
Workplace Health and Wellness Guide
Information on workplace stress, OSH Answers
Resources on stress, Advancing Healthy Workplaces
Mentally Healthy Workplaces: Strategies for Success, webinar
Mentally Healthy Workplaces, podcast
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The Health and Safety Report, a free monthly newsletter produced by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), provides information, advice, and resources that help support a safe and healthy work environment and the total well being of workers.
© 2017, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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