Mining houses looking for additional opportunities to develop new mines, or searching for new deposits, has resulted in an expansion into remote parts of Africa and an unexpected problem: the risk of dealing with snakes and snakebites in these remote locations.
“Snakebites can pose a real risk in certain parts of Africa and during certain seasons. An employee that is bitten by a venomous snake could result in several days or even weeks off work or, in worst case scenarios, can even be fatal,” says African Reptiles & Venom owner Mike Perry.
The company is a Gauteng-based snake venom extractor and supplier.
“Mines employ several highly trained and vital personnel in their everyday operations, so they would do well to consider the time and money savings that can be achieved by preventing snakebites or instituting swift medical care should snakebites occur,” he says.
To this end, the company offers specialist snake awareness courses – registered with the Field Guides Association of South Africa – to ensure the safety of Africa’s mineworkers.
While there are not many cases of snakebites at mines, mining companies nevertheless should aim to have safety systems in place to prevent snakebites, thereby eliminating potential liability.
The company’s services include a venomous snake handling course, as well as courses in snake awareness, snake identification and snakebite treatment with first aid, the latter of which is registered with health research and regulation consortium Witshealth. This enables medical professionals to receive five continuing professional development points when they attend the courses.
African Reptiles & Venom’s snake identification and snakebite treatment course is suited to all medical personnel, as well as senior personnel in safety, health and environment departments.
African Reptiles & Venom also conducts site inspections to advise mineworkers on potential snake risks in their area.
An additional benefit for mines is the contribution to conservation rather than a mine’s more traditional role of being environmentally destructive, since environmental personnel will be trained to remove snakes safely and humanely from areas where they constitute a menace or a health risk.
Meanwhile, African Reptiles & Venom is also an accredited supplier of snake venom to local polyvalent snakebite antivenom manufacturer South African Vaccine Producers, which also produces monovalent Boomslang antivenom. These antivenoms are suitable for the treatment of snakebites in sub- Saharan Africa.
Perry has been catching and researching snakes since 1965 and now assists and trains medical doctors on snakebite treatments. He also offers general talks to mineworkers to dispel myths and impart facts concerning snakes, such as how to avoid them and how to prevent snakebites.
Hall M2 Stand 58