Out of Range – Work Risks of Wildlife Protection Officers

by Melody Kemp

 It was nine at night and the shooters had the advantage of superior fire power and night vision goggles …. We stood no chance. Two friends were killed…”

Source: Melody Kemp

David Paklett, a Wildlife Ranger working in Tanzania pulled up his trouser leg and showed me an ugly red scar that looked a bit like an alien pasted to his skin. It was 2013. We were in Spain’s ancient university town of Salamanca, at WILD 10, a sporadic gathering of wilderness and conservation specialists.  He told me how the year before, he and his colleagues had been in a John Woo style shoot out with Vietnamese poachers. The Vietnamese were overhead in a helicopter, firing at them with automatic rifles. ‘It was nine at night and the shooters had the advantage of superior fire power and night vision goggles.’

His words have stayed with me.

‘We stood no chance. Two friends were killed, and I got this.’ When I looked up, his eyes had the look of someone who was looking back with horror. ‘Did you ever talk about that night with anyone?’ I asked sipping a Rioja red. ‘Who is there to tell?’ David grimaced. ‘It’s part of the job. The game has changed. The Chinese are arming these guys and making sure they get away with the kill. The forces behind them are so powerful and we have no resources.’

Lao Rangers in the Annamite mountain range report the same fear according to

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OHS is not all about workers compensation data

Every couple of months, after the release of official workplace fatality figures and serious injury, the Australian media reports the three most dangerous industries as Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry.  The latest article appeared in Australia’s Fairfax Media on 17 January 2018.  It is good that occupational health and safety (OHS) is gaining attention.  When so little media attention is given, any publicity is useful.

However this type of article also presents some negatives, including that it may be only representing 60% of all workplace fatalities and serious injuries.

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2017 Year in Review creates anxiety and calls for action

Last week in Sydney and Melbourne law firm Clyde & Co conducted seminars reviewing 2017 through the workplace health and safety perspective.  Alena Titterton (pictured right) hosted the Melbourne event which did not follow the proposed topics, but it was friendly and informative, and covered a lot of ground.

This article focuses on the statistics presented in the Year in Review document and some commentary from Titterton.

(An exclusive conversation with Titterton is to be in the next episode of Safety At Work Talks podcast)

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Action on insurance for OHS penalties slows down

In all of the discussion about the new industrial manslaughter laws in Queensland, the topic of directors and officers liability insurance has been overlooked.  As mentioned in an earlier article

“….the Queensland Government has promised to ban insurance products that pay occupational health and safety (OHS) penalties imposed against employers.”

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The clash between money and lives

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A media release from Australia’s Minister for Employment, Michaela Cash, starts the theme of management of workers compensation on the cusp of National Safe Work Month.  The purpose of the media release is ostensibly to celebrate that Comcare has become a fully funded scheme for the first time since 2010 but this is undermined by party politics:

“These results are another clear example of the Turnbull Government cleaning up after Labor’s slack financial management, while still delivering the most efficient and effective service for injured and ill employees.

Under Labor, Comcare had become a budget black hole into which taxpayer’s money simply disappeared.”

Continue reading “The clash between money and lives”