Any workplace activities that bring you into contact with private residence or business premises can place you in a vulnerable position with dogs.
Real-Estate Agents, Property Managers, and Tradespeople are a few examples of vocations that sit high on the dog attack, risk list.
According to the latest ACC reports, property and business services are the third-highest industry for dog bites in New Zealand.
All ThinkSafe members have access to up-to-date and completed Risk Assessments ready to review. We’ve even included a comprehensive Risk Assessment on Safety Around Dogs.
This article will focus on managing the risk of dog attacks.
We will apply the hierarchy of control and look at how overlapping duties apply.
Hierarchy of Control
The hierarchy of control is a system for controlling risks in the workplace.
Eliminating the hazard and risk is the best level of control in the hierarchy, followed by reducing the risk through substitution, isolation, and engineering controls, then reducing the risk through administrative controls. Reducing the risk through the use of protective personal equipment (PPE) is the lowest level of control.
Duties can overlap in a shared workplace (for example, A house is rented and work is to be completed. There are requirements for the landlord or the company acting for them, the Tennant and the visitor) to consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with each other as they share overlapping duties.
Managing the risk
Eliminating the hazard
• Not allowing dogs (Landlord)
Substitution, isolation, engineering control
• Keeping the dog tied up (Tennant)
• Remaining behind a fence or in a vehicle until safe (visitor)
• Plan ahead, establish robust company procedures including good lines of communication, for example, asking if a dog is present, coordinating visit time so the owner will either be home or the dog will be tied up (visitor)
• Provide training to staff, for example, de-escalation techniques course for dogs. (visitor)
• Cattle prod (visitor)
• Ultrasonic dog deterrent (visitor)
• Protective clothing (visitor)
• Dog repellent spray (visitor)
• Dog treats (visitor)
Obviously, elimination is the best strategy but not reasonable or practical in every case.
This leaves us relying heavily on substitution and administration controls which are systems and processes established by and between the company visiting and the occupier of the home. These processes are our best defense in preventing an encounter.
The use of PPE and devices like cattle prods, treats, and deterrent sprays should not be relied on as a stand-alone control for dog attacks. These can be provided as a last resort.
So every control has failed and you find yourself face to face with a hound from hell!
• Remain calm and still (like a tree)
• Keep your hands at your sides
• Turn side-on to the dog
• Keep the dog in sight, but don’t stare into its eyes (look at your or the dog's feet)
• Speak firm, simple commands like “No!”, “Go Home!”, “Stay!”, or “Down!”
• Slowly back up, keeping the dog in site
• Don’t run or scream
If you are attacked.
• Place an object between you and the dog. A car door, bag, or bicycle
• Cover your face and neck with your hands and arms
• Don’t turn your back, scream, and never lie down.
If you are knocked down.
• Lie face-down, curled in the foetal position
• Put your hands and arms over the back of your neck