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Swooping Birds - A Compensable Event

Swooping bird

As the media has been covering heavily lately, we are in bird swooping season.  Whilst many would ask what this has to do with the workplace, we remind you of the previous case where a workers compensation claim was successfully lodged for payment of medical expenses and lost income for a worker who was swooped whilst walking toward her place of work in a shopping centre carpark resulting in an injury to her eye.

The employer was unsuccessful in their attempts of dispute that the employee was not performing her work duties at the time, however the decision was based on the fact that had it not been for her requirement to attend for work, and the employee was entering the work premise at the time, the employee would not have been in the location to be attacked by the bird.

It is important to remember that birds don’t just nest in trees.  Birds will nest in several places including in and on building structures.

Although it is reasonable to understand that those of us who have experienced a swooping magpie now just see them as bloodthirsty monsters that have nothing better to do than attack us, they are just using their bodies and beaks to warn you to keep away from their eggs or newly-hatched chicks.

The good news is that birds will generally only swoop for about 6 weeks from the time the eggs are laid until the young birds are fledged.  The bad news is that the birds will swoop anything that they believe is a threat.

There are some tips to tell your employees should you experience nesting birds in or around your workplace to avoid being swooped:-

  • Travel in groups, as swooping birds usually only target individuals
  • Carry and open umbrella above your head
  • Wear sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat
  • If you ride a bike, walk it through magpie territory or have a flag on the back of the bike that is higher than head level
  • Don’t be aggressive. If you wave your arms about or shout, the birds will see you as a threat and they have a long memory.  You will be attacked not just this year but in seasons to come.
  • Walk, don’t run
  • Avoid making eye contact with the birds
  • If you know of an area that has swooping magpies, avoid it, and put a sign up to warn others.

For any assistance with this please contact us at [email protected] or 1300 720 004.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

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