26 Sept 2013 – Health & Safety

September sees our annual health & safety review. For the staff, and particularly Simon & myself its means going through our various policies, reviewing them and updating as necessary.
We are in quite an unusual situation in that we have not only to produce risk assessments and policies for our staff, but also for the approximate 70,000 visitors who come through the gates every year.
Simon and myself divide up the various areas between the two of us. I cover working with animals, young people, medication, working with chemicals, manual handling, working with water and zoonotic disease. Simon will take on outside contractors, machinery & vehicles, fire safety and all the other policies that relate to the gift shop and the public.
My task over the past few weeks has been to review our risk assessment and update as necessary. An example of a risk assessment is working with the Cassowary. Our Cassowarys are potentially lethal with large claws on the end of long, powerful legs. I have to consider the chances of an incident, the potential severity and list current control measures. So, for example the chances of a kick are slim, as we have a management policy that means contact with the bird is extremely rare. If there is contact then the correct safety equipment will be in place as will a required minimum numbers of staff. The severity could be fatal so the risk is assessed as high.
I have also been updating our fire and first aid procedures. We run fire drills to practice in the highly unlikely event of a fire. We have certain codes to use over the radios, keepers have areas for which they are responsible & we have 2 separate assembly points. I check and sign off the smoke alarms each week. First aid wise all the keeping staff are qualified first aiders and I have to keep a regular check of the first aid boxes to make sure they are not low on stock. All accidents (staff & public) must go in our accident book.
Most accidents at work here are usually trips and falls of young children. In the Summer Wasp stings are common. Keeper wise it usually small nicks from the knives as we chop the fruit or a bite from a bird (usually a parrot (usually Claude!))  We are fully prepared for more serious incidents as well.
All this takes place behind the scenes to ensure an enjoyable and safe day out at Birdland!

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