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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

Home visit workers and dog bites

This blog contains a graphic image and may not be suitable for all readers.

If you’ve ever been bitten by a dog, you know what a terrifying, traumatic, and painful experience that can be. According to the Canada Safety Council, of the roughly 460,000 incidents recorded each year, young children suffer dog attacks more frequently than any other segment of the population. Home visit workers – like letter carriers, home health care providers, or water and power utility workers - come a very close second.

So far this year in Nova Scotia there have been 34 registered claims for workers’ compensation related to dog attacks. There have been 217 such claims since 2010.

Employers like Canada Post know only too well how serious dog attacks can be. The company estimates that its delivery personnel suffer about 500 incidents each year. It’s a bigger problem during warmer months when there are more dogs outside. Canada Post regularly implores dog owners to keep their pets indoors, in a fenced yard, or tied securely away from the path of home visit workers. But despite these efforts, workers keep getting hurt.

Halifax Letter Carrier Rob MacDonald found that out on August 8th, when he was attacked by a dog while delivering mail in the west end of Halifax. In that case the dog was a Saint Bernard and the owner was present. Dog and owner were at the top of the steps when Rob arrived to deliver the mail. Rob asked if it was ok to approach the dog and the owner said it would be fine. The resulting wound to Rob’s leg is pictured below.

This incident shows that attacks can happen in the blink of an eye, and can involve pets that may not have exhibited aggressive behavior in the past.

According to the, some dogs are territorial and others are simply fearful, especially of people who are carrying things. Pet owners play an important role in making sure their property is safe for home delivery/visit workers. The safest option is to keep pets indoors or tied away from the workers’ path of travel. Just because an owner is present, doesn’t mean the dog won’t exhibit an aggressive response.

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