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Black Bear Encounter Safety Policy

Black Bear Encounter Safety Policy

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Black Bear Encounter Safety Policy

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  1. Black Bear Encounter Safety Policy Ministry of Natural Resources

  2. Introduction MNR undertakes a variety of operations that involve employees working in black bear habitat, occasionally this may result in an encounter Objective: To provide an overview of the policy and ensure that you understand all of your responsibilities as related to policy requirements

  3. Scope • All MNR employees who may be required to work in field locations known to be black bear habitat • All contractors • Any MNR employee responsible for storage and/or transportation of Ministry issued bear spray • Policy can be located in Outlook under public folders-Natural Resources-Health&Safety

  4. Purpose • To ensure individuals to whom this policy applies are aware of the ways to prevent and respond to a black bear encounter • Policy does not govern nuisance bear management • Will provide a means for employees to request bear spray and address the hazards associated with its use • Requirements under OHSA and Criminal Code of Canada (prohibited weapons)

  5. Training Standard All staff must receive training or instruction in black bear awareness and encounter techniques and review material in Appendix one of policy, before working in field Will view two video’s • Staying Safe in Bear Country • Working in Bear Country • Appendix two, specific training in bear spray safe work procedures, must be completed if spray is issued/responsible for storage or transport

  6. Mandatory Requirements • Records of training must be kept on file at the workplace and made available to JHSC • A supervisor may only grant an employees request for bear spray if: 1.The individual received training per appendix one 2. The individual received training per appendix two 3. If the individual has a medical condition ( allergy, asthma) a clearance/approval must be obtained from a physician

  7. Mandatory Requirements • Bear spray canisters are to be a maximum size of 260 grams and must display a pesticide control product act registration # • A bear spray inventory form must be filled out and kept on file for all bear spray being issued • Any lost canisters of spray are to be reported to supervisor and issuer • All employees must carry a whistle, air-horn or both while engaged in field activities

  8. Mandatory Requirements • If issued bear spray an employee must: 1. Store in a locked cabinet or other secure place when not in field 2. Transport in a vehicle in such a way that accidental discharge will not effect occupants (not in passenger compartment) 3. Not transport in aircraft (MNR/Commercial). Turbo Beaver float compartments only 4. In field carry in manner that provides immediate access 5. Ensure it is not shared or available to anyone not properly trained or instructed 6. Return any discharged or partially discharged canister for replacement

  9. Mandatory Requirements • All issued spray remains property of the MNR, and must be returned: 1. At the end of the field session 2. When their employment with MNR ends 3. Following accidental or intentional discharge for replacement 4. Upon request from the MNR • Any instances of discharge (except training), must be documented and reported to: 1. The Supervisor 2. The local JH&SC 3. The Occupational Health and Safety Unit in the HR Branch

  10. Mandatory Requirements • If transporting an air-horn by aircraft, three conditions must be followed: 1. The air-horn must contain tetrafluorethane, so that it will not fall under dangerous goods (IATA legislation ) 2. It must be disassembled, and a cover placed on the canister valve 3. The pilot must be advised of the presence of the air-horn • Where the ministry has contracted for services of another employer, confirmation must be obtained from the contractor that they are aware of the policy

  11. Responsibilities • Managers: 1. Review work activities to determine policy application 2. Ensure mandatory requirements are implemented in local operating procedures 3. Provide the local JH&SC or Health and Safety Rep with a copy of the policy • Supervisors: 1. Ensure employees have all required training/instruction 2. Confirm employees are complying with bear safety working procedures 3. Ensure all records ( training, storing and issuing ) are maintained 4. Account for all bear spray in the workplace 5. Review all reports of bear spray use, conduct investigation if required, report any cases to Occupational Health and Safety Unit and local JH&SC

  12. Responsibilities • Employees/Workers 1. Works in compliance to the policy, training and instruction provided and uses issued spray only in accordance to Ministry instructions 2. Does not use bear spray that appears to be defective or unsafe, notifies supervisor of such incidents 3. Reports any black bear encounter where employee felt threatened, and reports any use of bear spray (accidental or intentional) • JH&SC or Health and Safety Rep 1. Monitors the application of policy as part or regular committee duties

  13. Black Bear Awareness and Encounter Techniques • Hazards and Situations: 1. Activities that require frequent stooping/bending, increase chance of a surprise encounter. Stand up and scan often 2. Working in thick bush or under noisy conditions (windy, rivers) 3. Seasonal food sources ( spawning, various berries, dumps). Also the smell of rotting carrion. ( a presence of scavengers, ie. Ravens may indicate a rotting carcass) 4. Fresh Bear sign, ( moist vs. older dry sign ) learn to recognize, scat, tracks, recent digging, recent feeding areas, marking trees/posts 5. Females with cubs, especially in the spring ( unwilling to move ). Will usually send cubs up a large tree making a distinct sound 6. A close encounter with cubs may result in vocalizing, huffing, moaning or jaw popping or a bluff charge 7. Dogs are not advised 8. Base sites or camps often attract bears, take appropriate actions before bear activity starts

  14. Preventative Measures • Stay alert, pay attention, take advantage of increased lines of sight ( ridge tops ) • Making frequent noise when moving may limit the chance of startling a bear • Avoid wearing perfumes/colognes that may cause a bear to investigate the smell • If carrying food, ensure it is in an airtight container • Avoid carcasses, if you do come on one, walk slowly away in a direction that is open • If you see a bear, move away in a direction that gives the bear an escape route.

  15. Preventative Measures • Bears will travel over 100kms to a food source • The majority of problems occur due to improperly stored garbage/food, bears can quickly associate humans to food sources • Bears will lose their natural fear of humans with repeated exposures to a food source and may become destructive or dangerous • Never intentionally feed bears, even from a vehicle • Besides garbage dumps, pet food left outdoors, compost, fruit trees, beehives, bbq, bird feeders, sweetcorn and grain fields may attract bears

  16. Preventative Measures • Avoid camp areas often used by others • Plan your camp to reduce the likelihood of setting up near abundant natural food sources • Select a site that is open and provides good viewing prior to stepping out of tent/trailer/cabin • Keep site clean, don’t burn food scraps or fat in fire pit • Do not cook, eat or store food/toiletries in your tent • If bears become aggressive and enter tent/trailers, think about installing electrical fencing

  17. Encounter Techniques-Common Encounter • A bear may avoid you without your knowledge, the bear will sense human activity and leave without you knowing it was present • If sighted from a distance the bear may leave the area • The bear runs in the opposite direction when it first sees you, the bear wants to avoid human contact • If a bear seems unconcerned with your presence it usually means you are outside its personal space. The bear may be feeding, do not approach

  18. Encounter Techniques-Close Encounter • A bear that does not avoid you could be curious, asserting dominance or in extremely rare cases be predatory • Surprise- most encounters that lead to contact are caused by the bear being startled at close range • A bear’s personal space differs from bear to bear • A bear will show signs when you are entering it’s personal space (a change in body posture such as head down, eyes narrowed or ears back). This may lead to snorting or huffing, jaw popping, avoiding eye contact, swatting vegetation, foot stomping and finally a bluff charge

  19. Reasons why a bear will approach • Defensive- you are too close, the bear will show signs of stress • Curious- bear may stand, ears forward, nose in air, information gathering not threatening • Testing Dominance- bear may glance your way with ears up and no stress signs • Food Conditioned-has associated humans to a food source without any previous bad experiences • Predatory-eyes fixed, following you, may press closer and closer assessing if it is safe to attack. This is extremely rare

  20. Your Response • Depends on circumstances and bear behaviour • If acting defensively, assess and respond • Remain calm, stand your ground, do not run. Raise your arms and talk to bear in calm voice. You are assuring the bear you are not a threat • Try to slowly move upwind and back away from the bear the way you came, always keep your eyes on the bear • You cannot outrun a bear

  21. Your Response • If you must continue forward give the bear time to leave. Make noise and proceed with caution. • A female with cubs does not want to risk any injury to her offspring, give lots of personal space • Predatory like behaviour may just mean you are in the intended path of the bear, move slowly away leaving a clear path for the bear • If you have responded accordingly and the bear is still intent and focused on you, its time to become aggressive

  22. Becoming Aggressive • Make yourself appear as large as possible • Stand on high ground • Raise your arms high • Shout aggressively • Utilize a whistle or air-horn • Use a shovel or stick whatever is available in an aggressive manner • You want the bear to think it may become injured if it persists • The bear cannot think you are prey by acting subordinate, you must act as if you are dominant to the bear

  23. Becoming Aggressive • If a black bear attacks (defensive or predatory), for whatever reason your response is the same • DO NOT PLAY DEAD (disregard advice from video “ staying safe in bear country”) • Fighting is your best chance to end the attack • Fight back with everything you have • Strike at face and eyes, use whatever you can, rock, stick, pen etc. • NEVER GIVE UP