Employers Responsible For Bear Safety Training

Every year Workers Compensation Board of BC handles a fair share of disability and fatality claims; a number of which include conflict with bears and other wild animals. The majority of these related claims result when a worker tries to flee from a wild animal or avoid physical contact with it.
Various activities that place workers in areas where a bear encounter may occur include tree-planters, drillers, prospectors, ranchers, loggers, members of forestry layout and survey crews and land surveyors. Employees of eco-tourism based companies will also often find themselves in wild areas and prime wild animal habitat while conducting wildlife viewing excursions, backcountry camping, interpretive walks etc... If employees will be placed in a situation where a wild animal encounter may occur, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that workers understand and follow company protocol for avoidance of human-wildlife conflict and proper reaction should an encounter occur.
Bear awareness at work should be included in existing health and safety training programs for all employees that may find themselves working in bear habitat. A comprehensive training session will include topics such as general bear and wildlife information, species identification, preferred habitat, identification of bear sign, ways to avoid wildlife, proper reaction during an encounter, camp safety measures and bear deterrents. Written work procedures should be given to employees during this training to ensure there is full understanding and awareness of wildlife while at work.
If you are an employer/manager/health and safety team member and are requiring further direction or information on how to properly educate and train your employees to avoid human-bear conflict there are resources available to help you. The Workers’ Compensation Board of BC offers literature and videos on health and safety topics, including bears. To request these resources they can be contacted toll free 1-888-319-9704 or email pubvid@wcb.bc.ca
“Bear Smart BC Society” members are also available to help employers develop health and safety training programs to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the workplace. Employees need to be well informed and educated to avoid wild animal encounters and to prevent unnecessary risk while at work; either to themselves or to others.
To report any wildlife-human interactions where public safety may be at risk, call the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277).
Information provided by Christina Brack, Director of Communications Bear Smart BC Society and Crystal McMillan, Executive Director Bear Smart BC Society
For more “Bear Smart” information, questions, concerns or to volunteer please contact:
Dawn Boyce 250-723-2187 or Christina Brack 250-723-9200
For more information on the Ministry of Environment Bear Smart Community Program or the Bear Smart BC Society please call: Crystal McMillan at 250-650-9653