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Summer Safety – Insects

- July 5, 2013 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Many of our summertime safety blogs are about heat safety because it is such a common safety hazard.  But insects are another summer hazard for which we can train employees.  Most of the time, bugs are just a nuisance, but they also can be a significant safety hazard to your employees, leading to serious illness or even death.

Here are some common insect hazards:

  • Allergic Reactions: Bees, wasps, and other stinging insects can cause allergic reactions in some people. Do you know if any of your employees are allergic to bees?  Do they carry an epinephrine auto injector and wear medical ID jewelry stating their allergy at all times? Do their co-workers know how to help in the event of a sting? Do employees that work outside carry bee and wasp killer in the event they encounter a nest in their work area?
  • West Nile Virus: Mosquitos can carry West Nile, a virus which can lead to serious illness and death. Bug spray is not just for kids and it’s not just for picnics.  Bug spray should be applied when working outside where potential mosquito hazards exist such as areas near standing water. If your employees normally work inside, they are not guaranteed protection. Even if work is done inside, employees can still be at risk if standing water is nearby. Removing items that can collect water such as 55 gallon drums, trash containers, and tires that can collect rain water can reduce the risk.
  • Lyme disease: Ticks are one of the most common carriers of Lyme disease. Employees who work outside near tall grasses, under trees, or near areas where deer populate are at an increased risk. Wearing a hat, long pants, socks, and long sleeves can prevent ticks from embedded on skin. If possible, cut back grass and weeds near any equipment that requires servicing.

NIOSH and the CDC have developed useful fact sheets which I’ve listed below to help you train your employees on these insect hazards:

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