"The issue of increasing versus decreasing risk depends upon the interpretation of "snake handler training". My guess is that they are actually suggesting training by Geoff Coombe, who runs courses Australia-wide and overseas for personnel at risk of snake encounters. This training teaches how to live in a snake-rich environment safely, how to avoid being bitten, how to safely remove snakes from a threatening location and how to deal with snakebite should it occur. This training is used by most of Australia's National Parks services, Customs, Councils, some mining companies etc, where staff are at risk of snake encounters. Geoff was recently in Pakistan teaching BHP staff there how to avoid snakebite, following a series of fatal bites amongst mining ex-ploration crews. Geoff's courses certainly display snake handling, but most do not have an emphasis on snake handling specifically, merely using it as part of a wider educational process.
As for bites in snake handlers, in SA at least, the advent of a revised safety culture, training, initiated by Geoff, and revised regulations have seen bites in snake handlers drop to just a trickle. In SA at least, we have shown that the risk from handling venomous snakes can be kept low.
If, as I suspect, the courses requested are those run by Geoff Coombe, then I think their implementation should see a lowering of risk, not an increased risk, as you thought might occur."
Associate Professor Julian White,
Consultant Clinical Toxinologist,
Head of Toxinology, Women's & Children's Hospital.