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SAIF: Pets cause nearly 400 workers comp claims a year

Tips offered on how to prevent injuries

SALEM, Ore. - Every year around this time, we get a terrifying look at the ferociousness of sharks. But the real danger to Oregon workers isn’t in the sea: Dogs and cats have accounted for more than 1,900 SAIF claims since 2014.

That’s the message of a new video from SAIF, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck9RROBFOas.

“It’s easy to assume injuries from small animals only occur in the animal services industry,” said Becky Griswold, senior safety management consultant at SAIF. “But we’re seeing injuries across industries.”

While veterinary services, pet care, and universities had the highest rate of injuries, SAIF data shows workers in healthcare also get injured by pets — since 2014, there were 30 cat-related injuries in home health care, nursing care facilities, hospitals, and residential care facilities combined.

Dog-related injuries are common in health care-related fields, too, with 94 in the same time frame. SAIF also saw dog injuries in industries that provide in-home services, like janitorial services and plumbing, heating, and AC contractors, resulting in 54 injuries. Restaurants accounted for 20 dog-related injuries.

“We love pets, and are not advocating for businesses to change their pet-friendly policies,” said Griswold. “But we do want to educate employees on how to safely interact with pets in the course of their day.”

Griswold noted it’s important to approach pets cautiously to avoid injury and unnecessary stress to the pets. Here are some things to consider:

  • If the pet is accompanied by an owner, always ask permission before approaching or petting the animal.
  • If the animal is in a car, avoid reaching through the window; this may cause the pet to feel scared or attacked.
  • Approach pets slowly and calmly; ideally, let the pet approach you on their own terms.
  • If the pet is calm, comes to you, and solicits attention, pet gently.
  • If you’re in doubt whether a pet is exhibiting fearful or aggressive behavior, ignore it and avoid it.                                      

More information—including tips for workers in animal services and anyone dealing with compassion fatigue, common in the animal care industry—can be found at saif.com/animalsafety.

About SAIF

SAIF is Oregon's not-for-profit workers' compensation insurance company. Since 1914, we've been taking care of injured workers, helping people get back to work, and striving to make Oregon the safest and healthiest place to work. For more information, visit the About SAIF page.


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