When a professional snake catcher comes across a professional people crusher, things can get a bit dicey. That is exactly what happened to a woman who makes her living catching and relocating snakes down under last week. Her experience provides the perfect example of the old adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

She had been called to “relocate” a python snake out of a tree. Things apparently “went awry” fairly quickly. She explained on Facebook, saying “I grabbed the snake out of the tree and it landed around my neck and before I could unwind it, it tightened around my neck and face.” She continued by saying that she was “asphyxiated” and passed out from the pressure. She was ultimately rescued by the people who had called her about the snake.  

That had to be an impressive performance. I wonder if they got their money back. 

Personally, I can think of better ways to relocate a python. The use of a Howitzer springs to mind. A flamethrower, shotgun, cannon or any other device that would relocate that snake to hell would be fine with me. If someone called me to remove a potentially lethal snake from their house, I could do it. I would just need to apologize after for their home being turned into a smoldering pile of ashes. 

Pesky little details. You wanted the snake out, didn’t you? 

Like our intrepid snake, I’m willing to go out on a limb here. I am willing to bet that many workplace accidents, like that experienced by our almost former snake handler, are experienced by people who know their job and have been doing it for quite some time. They may get too comfortable, develop shortcuts or other non-sanctioned methods for accomplishing their tasks, and just get too secure with the things they have to do. It is that moment of complacency that puts them at the most risk.

I don’t really know if studies have been done regarding this idea – mostly because I am too lazy to spend a great deal of time looking for those reports. If I had to guess, however (something I do quite often), I would say that next to improper training and lack of experience, extreme proficiency may be, through the haphazard path of familiarity, a major factor in on the job injuries. 

In support of that hypothesis I can directly quote our snake strangled heroine, who told her Facebook friends, “I think because I have been handling snakes for so long, I was too relaxed and he got the better of me but I’ve learnt a lesson and won’t make the same mistake twice.”

There you have it. Skill, ability and proficiency can kill. If this rule is an absolute it means that I may live forever, since I have none of those attributes. In the meantime, the workers’ compensation industry should look into the cause and effect of complacency on the job. Someone should call WCRI and get them cracking on this. They are the proficient experts for this sort of stuff.

I just hope their researchers don’t carelessly injure themselves in the process. That would just be embarrassing.

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