What are the ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites?
- Use EPA-registered external icon insect repellent
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors
WHY IS IT RIGHT
TO ENSURE THAT YOU PROPERLY PROTECT WORKERS FROM WILD ANIMAL ATTACKS AND INSECTS, TAKE THE SAME BASIC APPROACH THAT YOU USE TO DEAL WITH OTHER SAFETY HAZARDS:
Step #1: Evaluate
Evaluate the workplace to determine if workers are at risk of being attacked by wild animals or bitten by dangerous insects. If you determine that workers are exposed to such hazards, assess the nature and seriousness of the hazard.
Step #2: Control the Risk
Take steps to eliminate or, if that’s not practical, control or minimize that risk. For example, give workers bug repellent to spray on themselves while working outdoors to prevent insect bites. Also, remove standing water in or near the workplace to avoid attracting mosquitos. (We’ll discuss the measures you can take to protect workers from animal attacks and dangerous insects in more detail below.)
Step #3: Educate and Train Workers
Educate workers on the risks of insect bites and animal attacks, and train them on how to deal with animal encounters and avoid being bitten by bugs.
Step #4: Monitor and Follow Up
As always, you should monitor the effectiveness of your safety measures. For example, investigate all incidents in which workers encountered wild animals. Assess not only actual attacks and why they happened, but also encounters that didn’t result in attacks and why they didn’t happen. Try to learn from each kind of encounter and modify your safety measures accordingly.
To determine if an animal attack is a foreseeable risk for your workers, consider:
- Any history or reports of animal attacks against workers or others in the area;
- Knowledge of the presence of dangerous animals in or near the workplace. If your workplace is located in a part of Canada that’s home to potentially dangerous animals, it’s foreseeable that your workers are at risk of being attacked by such animals; and
- The nature of the work. For example, a worker at a remote oil drilling site is more likely to be exposed to animal attacks than a worker in a manufacturing plant.
If your workers are at reasonable risk of attack by wild animals, some of the safety measures you should consider implementing include:
- Giving workers at risk of bear attacks pepper spray, bear repellent, “bear bangers” (which make a loud noise designed to drive bears away) or even guns;
- Ensuring that workers working alone or in remote areas have portable radios, GPS systems and ready access to helicopters so they can quickly be found and removed from areas in which bears or other dangerous animals have been sighted; and
- Training workers on how to react when they encounter animals such as cougars, bears and wolves.
How to Avoid a Dog Attack
- Do not try to pet unfamiliar dogs
- Do not enter an area where a dog could be, like a back yard, especially if the owner is not present
- Even if you know the dog they could still bite if they do not recognize you
- Do not get aggressive with playing with a dog
- Never try to take a bone or other object from the dog if it is growling or showing aggression
- Do not let small children play with dogs unattended
If a Dog Keeps Approaching or Attacks
- Stand in place and do not make any sudden movements if an unknown dog approach
- Never run from an approaching dog
- Yell “NO” to attempt to get the dog to back down
- Do not make eye contact or take an aggressive posture towards the dog
- If knocked down, get into a fetal position and cover your head and neck
How to Prevent Snake Bites
- Be aware of snakes that may be swimming in the water to get to higher ground and those that may be hiding under debris or other objects.
- If you see a snake, back away from it slowly and do not touch it.
Signs of Snake Bites
If you have to walk in high water, you may feel a bite, but not know that you were bitten by a snake. You may think it is another kind of bite or scratch. Pay attention to the following snake bite signs.
Depending on the type of snake, the signs and symptoms may include:
- A pair of puncture marks at the wound
- Redness and swelling around the bite
- Severe pain at the site of the bite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Labored breathing (in extreme cases, breathing may stop altogether)
- Disturbed vision
- Increased salivation and sweating
- Numbness or tingling around your face and/or limbs
What TO DO if You or Someone Else is Bitten by a Snake
If you or someone you know are bitten, try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.
- Keep the bitten person still and calm. This can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is venomous.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Dial 911 or call local Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
- Apply first aid if you cannot get the person to the hospital right away.
- Lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart.
- Tell him/her to stay calm and still.
- Wash the wound with warm soapy water immediately.
- Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing.
What NOT TO DO if You or Someone Else is Bitten by a Snake
- Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it (this may put you or someone else at risk for a bite).
- Do not apply a tourniquet.
- Do not slash the wound with a knife.
- Do not suck out the venom.
- Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water.
- Do not drink alcohol as a pain killer.
- Do not drink caffeinated beverages.
According to NIOSH, here are some ways that workers can protect themselves from insect bites:
- Wear light-coloured, smooth-finished clothing that covers as much of the body as possible;
- Avoid perfumed soaps, shampoos, and deodorants. And don’t wear cologne or perfume;
- Wear clean clothing and bathe daily;
- Avoid flowering plants when possible;
- Keep work areas clean. Some insects are attracted to discarded food;
- Remain calm and still if a single stinging insect is flying around. Swatting may cause it to sting;
- If attacked by several stinging insects, run away. (Bees release a chemical when they sting, which attracts other bees.) Go indoors or to shaded areas, which are better than open ones. Don’t jump into water. Some insects (such as Africanized honey bees) are known to hover above the water;
- If an insect is inside your vehicle, stop slowly and open all the windows; and
- Workers with a history of severe allergic reactions to insect bites or stings should carry an epinephrine autoinjector and wear medical ID jewelry stating their allergy.
If a worker is stung by an insect:
- Have someone stay with the worker to be sure that he doesn’t have an allergic reaction;
- Wash the site with soap and water;
- Remove the stinger using gauze wiped over the area or by scraping a fingernail over the area. Never squeeze the stinger or use tweezers;
- Apply ice to reduce swelling; and
Don’t scratch the sting, which may increase swelling, itching and risk of infection.
To protect workers from tick bites, in areas where ticks may be present:
- Wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants;
- Pull socks over pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up legs;
- Wear light-coloured clothes to make spotting ticks easier;
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin. Repellents can be applied to clothing as well as exposed skin. Always read and follow label directions;
- Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks; and
- Do a daily “full body” check for ticks.
If a worker finds a tick on his skin, removing it within 24-36 hours of the tick bite usually prevents infection. To remove a tick, using clean tweezers, carefully grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull slowly upward, but try not to twist or crush the tick. If parts of the tick’s mouth break off and remain in the skin, remove them with tweezers.
Once the tick is removed, wash the area with soap and water or disinfect it with alcohol or hand sanitizer. Save the tick in a plastic bag that you can seal or a pill bottle. Record the location and date of the bite. You can store the container for up to 10 days in the refrigerator (for live ticks) or freezer (for dead ticks).
Prevent Mosquito Bites
- Adult mosquitoes do not generally survive high winds during a hurricane.
- Immediately following a hurricane, flooding occurs. Mosquito eggs laid in the soil by floodwater mosquitoes during previous floods hatch. This results in very large populations of floodwater mosquitoes. Most of these mosquitoes are considered nuisance mosquitoes.
- In general, nuisance mosquitoes do not spread viruses that make people sick. The types of mosquitoes that can spread viruses may increase 2 weeks to 2 months after a hurricane, especially in areas that did not flood but received more rainfall than usual.
The best was to prevent infection from diseases spread by mosquitoes is to prevent mosquito bites. Mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Take the following steps to protect yourself and your family:
- Use EPA-registered external icon insect repellent
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors
To help prevent workers from being stung by fire ants, instruct them to wear clothing and footwear that cover exposed skin, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, closed-toe shoes and gloves. In addition, workers should tie pants’ bottoms or tape them to socks or boots.
If a worker does get stung by a fire ant, he should brush the ants away from the skin with a gloved hand or cloth. Don’t crush the ants—it will only encourage more of them to sting. Taking an antihistamine can relieve minor swelling and irritation. Workers should see a doctor if the symptoms get worse.
WHY IS EVERYTHING ELSE WRONG
HAZARDS FOR OUTDOOR WORKERS
Most safety hazards involve inanimate objects, chemicals or conditions, such as extreme heat. But living creatures can also pose a threat to workers, particularly when they work outside. Protecting workers from attacks by wild animals and insects may be a little unusual but really involves exactly the same process as addressing hazards such as pinch points in machinery and burns from hazardous substances.
The duty to deal with the hazards of animal attacks and bug bites is usually covered by the so-called “general duty“ clause—that is, the part of every OHS statute that requires employers to take every reasonable precaution to provide a safe and healthy workplace and protect workers from known or foreseeable risks. So if you know or should know that workers are at risk of, say, being attacked by a cougar or being bitten by a mosquito, employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect them from that hazard.
Training / Identification
Outdoor workers are exposed to many types of hazards that depend on their type of work, geographic region, season, and duration of time they are outside. Employers should train outdoor workers about their workplace hazards, including hazard identification and recommendations for preventing and controlling their exposures.
Physical hazards to outdoor workers may include extreme heat, extreme cold, noise, and sun exposure. Extreme heat can cause heat stroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat rash, and other problems. Extreme cold can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and other problems. Repeated exposures to loud noise can lead to permanent, incurable hearing loss or tinnitus.
Biological hazards include vector-borne diseases, venomous wildlife and insects, and poisonous plants. Venomous snakes, spiders, scorpions, and stinging insects can be found throughout various geographic regions, and are especially dangerous to workers who have allergies to the animal. Poisonous plants can cause allergic reactions if their oils come in contact with skin.
These plants can also be dangerous if burned and their toxins are inhaled.
Vector-borne diseases may be spread to workers by insects, such as mosquitoes or ticks. When a mosquito or tick bites a worker, it may transfer a disease-causing agent, such as a parasite, bacterium, or virus.
Outdoor workers may encounter other hazards in addition to the physical and biological hazards described here. They may be exposed to pesticides or other chemical hazards, traumatic injury hazards, or other safety and health hazards depending on their specific job and tasks.
TEN BASIC SAFEGUARDS FOR OUTDOOR WORKER SAFETY
- Risk assessment
Identify problems and hazards and decide who is at risk, especially in hot weather. Main factors include:
Working climate – including air temperature, movement, and proximity to heat sources when working.
Medical, genetic and other factors – a worker’s age and build may influence heat tolerance.
Advise about the dangers of sun exposure, the risks of heat stress and offer guidance on sun protection and checking the skin regularly for damage.
- Sun cream
Under strong sunrays, skin can burn very quickly, potentially causing severe discomfort, sunstroke or even skin cancer. Sun cream should always be used by outdoor workers and reapplied according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Outdoor workers should be advised to keep covered up comfortably. It is not uncommon for employers to consider relaxing the usual dress code when it is very hot outside; hats should be used in relevant conditions to protect the head.
Encourage workers to keep hydrated by providing cool water in the workplace, combatting heat stress and overheating. Drinking water regularly will help prevent dehydration and is preferable to coffee or tea where hydration is concerned.
Periods out of the sun can be encouraged by employee breaks in the shade where possible. Workers who can rest comfortably and rehydrate are more likely to be more productive.
Allergies can be triggered if workers are in an environment where they may suffer a reaction. Providing protective equipment such as masks or glasses in problem areas can help prevent issues and keep productivity up.
- Keep food cool
When employees bring their own food to work, it needs to be kept cool during warm conditions to prevent the possibility of illness and time off work resulting from contaminated food.
- Work rate
Schedule work so exposure to the sun is minimized. Always be aware of the amount of labor needed and the amount of time required for it to be done.
- Heat stress
Where possible, control workplace temperature inside. Outside workers need regular breaks, with access to shade, and good hydration to reduce the possibility of heat stress.
OUTDOOR RISKS TO WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY
For many organisations, the workplace extends far outside of the office, with staff hitting the road to travel to other sites and outside locations and even working outdoors.
These ‘workplaces’ often have unique hazards aside from the threats you might anticipate within a more regular office or factory environment.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you’re upholding your legal obligations and doing what you can to ensure workers stay safe and healthy.
- Wind and rain
- Airborne hazards and chemicals
- Equipment and machinery