Better the devil you know: snake catcher’s advice for safe cohabitation

Immersive: SAWIA’s Health, Safety and Risk Conference conference featured a live demonstration on snake safety by Dean Clarke from Snake Catchers Adelaide. Photo: Meg Riley

By Meg Riley

Relocating snakes from your vineyard site is unlikely to provide a long-term solution, said snake catcher Dean Clarke, presenting at an industry safety event yesterday.

SAWIA’s Health, Safety and Risk Conference took place in McLaren Vale yesterday, educating business owners and managers on physical, environmental and psychological risks in preparation for the upcoming harvest season.

Presentations included a live snake safety demonstration from Snake Catchers Adelaide, bushfire ready advice from SA Country Fire Service, and information on heavy vehicle transportation risks from National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Attendees were immersed in the live presentation on snake safety, during which Dean Clarke demonstrated the docile nature of some of Australia’s most dangerous snakes, and emphasised the importance of understanding how snakes respond to movement.


Dean Clarke from Snake Catchers Adelaide. Photo: Meg Riley


Clarke reiterated that the presence of snakes was unavoidable in many vineyards, and explained how relocating snakes would not remove the threat, as another snake was likely to move in and take its place. The best course of action, Clarke advised, was to pay attention to the snake’s location and ensure everyone on the property is aware – better the devil you know.

Taking a sustainable angle on vineyard safety, Mark Gishen also presented on the alternatives to CCA posts. Psychological wellbeing was front of mind in a presentation from Workplace Wellbeing SA, and also featured heavily in Dorota Clausen and Jamie Simounds’ discussion about transforming Pernod Ricard’s safety culture.


Andrew Perry from Preserve Health presents on the importance of hydration during vintage. Photo: Meg Riley


Henrik Wallgren, one of the event’s organisers, reiterated the value of in-person events and keeping up to date on safety advice.

“Reinforcing safety messages going into vintage is really key,” said Wallgren. “It’s about continually upskilling; staying across developments in the industry; knowledge sharing, networking.”


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