Believe it or not, INSECTS can be a work place biological hazard and must be managed by both employers and workers to reduce exposure as this can lead to injury. Controlling this seasonal hazard is a 3-step process: RECOGNIZE the hazard (types of insects), IDENTIFY the risks at your worksite and CONTROL and manage the hazard. Hazard recognition is important in controlling the risk of stings and bites from insects by knowing what type of insects can cause harm and where they are commonly found. Inspecting the worksite is a common precaution both supervisors and workers can perform. As part of a Best Practice strategy, employers should encourage workers to disclose any allergies to insect stings to ensure First Aid measures are immediately implemented.
FACT: Biting and Stinging insects can be found inside buildings and anywhere outdoors
HAZARD: Bees, wasps, hornets, ants, lady bugs, ticks, spiders, snakes, horse-flies
RISK: Stings, bites and nesting can result in minor injury or develop into a life-threatening condition
WORKSITE HAZARDS: common areas to find stinging and biting insects:
- Nests in branches, eaves-troughs, shrubs, bushes, hedges
- In rubber tires, crates, boxes, abandoned vehicles, etc.
- Under logs, piles of rocks and other protected sites such as pallets
- Garbage cans, garbage disposal sites, trash on the ground
- Drink dispensing machines, lunch-room and picnic table
FACT: Power tools such as chainsaws can aggravate insects which may provoke them to swarm
HINT: It is good practice to encourage Workers to notify employers if they have an allergy to insect stings. Co-workers should be trained in emergency first aid, be aware of the signs of a severe reaction, and know how to use the bee sting kit (self-injectable epinephrine).
- Empty and wash out garbage cans regularly. Fit garbage cans with a tight lid.
- Locate trash cans away from the food
- Clean the drink dispensing machines regularly
- Locate the food areas away from worksites
- PPE’S: Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and closed-toed boots or shoes. If you cannot avoid working near bees or wasps, wear a bee-keepers style hat with netting to cover your head, neck and shoulders. Tape your pant legs to your boots/socks, and your sleeves to your gloves.
FACT: You may also wish to wear an extra layer of clothing since wasp stings are long enough to reach through one layer of clothing.
VISIBLE INSPECTION: look around the worksite for common areas as noted in worksite hazards – Check to see if there are any visible signs of activity or a hive or nest.
FACT: STAY CALM: if you are startled or stung while driving, working with power tools or are on a ladder, you could end up getting injured with much more than a sting! IF you have disturbed a nest and hear “wild” buzzing, protect your face with your hands and run from the area immediately.
CLOTHING: Tuck in your shirt and pants and tie back long hair to avoid bees or wasps from getting entangled in your hair and clothes. Wear light colored clothes such as khakis, beige, or blue.
CHECK BEFORE YOU DRINK – Painful stings in the mouth and throat can result if you accidentally swallowed a wasp or bee that has entered your drink
AVOIDANCE: LEAVE THE AREA AND REPORT to your supervisor. The best way to prevent stings is to avoid the insects. Leave the area, if possible.
DRIVING? If you find a bee or wasp in your car, stop and leave the windows open
FACT: Insect repellent (“bug spray”) does not affect these stinging insects. Avoidance and awareness are the keys to not being stung.
FIRST AID BASICS: ACT FAST
Generally, most stings will only result in a temporary injury – pain, MILD swelling, and skin redness around the sting.
SEEK FIRST AID to properly remove the tick or stinger and you may apply an ice pack to help reduce the effects of a sting / bite
The CCOHS suggests that you seek medical help if the sting is near the eyes, nose or throat.
REACTIONS THAT REQUIRE EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES (911):
- Swollen eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue.
- Dizziness OR Unconsciousness
- Stay with the person who has been stung to monitor their reaction
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The information provided by ABL Employment is intended to promote healthy habits. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or professional care. Before making significant changes to diet or exercise, consult your health care provider.