Aug 26, 2008

Nightshift zookeeper killed by snake

The body of a 29-year old student zoo keeper working an overnight shift along at the Caracas (Venezuela) zoo was found in the grip of a 10-foot python. An article in the local newspaper noted that the zoo keeper had broken zoo rules by entering the cage holding the snake. The National Shiftwork Information Center view is somewhat different -- fatigue in the overnight hours impairs judgment, vigilance, and reaction times. An inexperienced zoo keeper, working alone, at night, in the reptile section was unfortunately in a place where impaired performance had a deadly outcome.

This is a tragic reminder of the consequences of night shift work. Rather than point fingers at the deceased employee, we believe it will be most beneficial for zoo and government officials to look at their shift work management practices to see if there is shiftworker lifestyle training, shift scheduling, or other changes that could be implemented to reduce a repeat of this incident.

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