Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
Wardens who patrol Ontario’s provincial parks are suiting up, as bullet proof vests have become a mandatory accessory when they patrol for unruly campers.
Since July, 2012, the Ministry of Natural Resources began rolling out soft body Armour to 450 Park wardens who watch over more than 100 parks across the province. It is a plan that was being developed over the past year and a half through joint health and safety committee between the natural resources ministry and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
“It was a case of an escalation of safety measures. There wasn’t a single incident that triggered it,” says Ministry spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski. Park wardens are expected to wear the vests, which weigh about 2 kg, whenever they are out on enforcement duties, including when responding to reports of alcohol, talking to campers and while on routine patrols, Kowalski explains. The vests cost the province $225,000.
Elaine Bangnall, OPSEU co-chair of the Ministry employee relations committee, says she has yet to receive any complaints from Park wardens about the vests. Kowalski notes that some officers have indicated the vests make the wearer warmer, but “it’s a small price to pay for an improved level of safety.”
Although a handful of wardens are assaulted every year across the province, there have never been any incidents of wardens being shot or stabbed, which the vests are also made to protect against. Unlike conservation officers, Park wardens to not carry guns but are equipped with batons.
It was the first I heard the park wardens didn’t have much in the way of personal protective equipment like body armor, guns and/or tasers. With all the alcohol that goes on at the provincial parks I have to say that I’m very, very surprised that there hasn’t been an escalated act of aggression towards the park wardens. Canada shows that the majority of us are not prone to violence and handle most situations with concern and compassion for those around them.
I hope that we do not hear about a fatality concerning our park wardens. It may cause us to panic and it may lead to more sophisticated weaponry and that would lead us to be too much like our American friends.
Please be friendly to our park wardens as they are only doing their respective duties. They would like to go home that night and enjoy the day just like you do!
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.