Insect Prevention

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Aug 22, 2018

Protection Against Mosquitos and Other Flying Insects

August brings hot summer days & nights, bonfires, and cookouts, but also brings unwanted guests in the form of mosquitos, bees, wasps, and other flying insects. These pests are not only unwelcome summer guests during our leisure time, they may also pose safety hazards at the workplace.


Mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus, Zika and Malaria kill more people than any other illness. West Nile Virus is a potentially serious illness transmitted to humans by mosquitos and is also known to infect birds and other animals. West Nile Virus typically appears in the summer and continues through the fall months. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that nearly 650 to 1400 cases of West Nile Virus are reported each year.


According to the CDC, those suffering with West Nile Virus show no symptoms in four out of five cases. The other 20% exhibit mild flu-like symptoms including:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Body Aches
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Skin Rash

Occupations with the Greatest Risk of West Nile Virus

Workers that spend the majority of their time working outdoors are at the greatest risk, especially those workers in warmer climates. Occupations at risk include farm workers, loggers, landscapers, construction workers, and pavers.

Employers can help protect workers from the possibility of West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses by taking steps to reduce or eliminate the mosquito populations at their office or campus.

Mosquito Prevention Protocol:

  • Inspect work areas and remove any source of standing or stagnant water in order to eliminate a potential breeding ground for mosquitos. These include wheelbarrows, drums and buckets. Employers should also fill in any potholes or patches where water may accumulate and monitor any ponds and animal feeding or drinking troughs.
  • If the water source is unable to be removed, the use of aeration will help prevent mosquito growth.
  • Encourage workers to use mosquito repellant when working outdoors, especially around dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most prevalent. Repellents containing DEET or picaridin are recommended for long-lasting protection.
  • Ask workers to wear light colored, loose fitting clothing as a barrier against mosquitos. Long sleeves, pants and socks should be worn whenever possible.
  • Avoid touching dead birds and report any dead bird found on site to the proper local authorities.

Bees, Wasps, and Other Flying Insects

Outdoor workers may also be affected by bees, wasps and other flying insects. While most stings from these flying insects are mild injuries, there is a chance that a sting could cause a severe reaction and require immediate medical attention.

Employers should walk the perimeter of their building or campus to look for nests or hives, paying close attention to areas where insects are likely to nest including: hollow trees, walls or attics; tree branches or building overhangs; rubber tires, crates, or abandoned vehicles; under piles of logs or rocks; or inside holes in the ground. If a nest or hive is found, contact a pest control professional to ensure the nest is properly removed.


Ways to Protect Employees from Flying Insects

  • Keep work areas clean. Bees, wasps and other flying insects may be drawn to trash or discarded food
  • Encourage employees to wear light-colored clothing
  • Remain calm when a single flying insect is around. Swatting at the insect will only aggravate the problem
  • If attacked by multiple stinging insects, employees should run to get away
  • If you find an insect in your vehicle, come to a stop and open all windows
  • If an employee has a history of allergic reactions to an insect sting, encourage the employee to carry an EpiPen and wear a medical ID that states their allergy
  • Provide first aid kits on site with medical items including antihistamines, local anesthetic spray, hydrocortisone cream, gauze and ice packs

What to do if an Employee Is Stung on the Job

In the event that an employee is stung while on the clock, the employer should take the following precautions:

  • Move to a safe location away from other stinging insects
  • Ask another employee to stay with the stung employee in case of an allergic reaction
  • Wash the sting site with soap and water, and remove the stinger using gauze or by scraping a fingernail over area
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling
  • Do not scratch the sting, as this may cause swelling or itching and increases the risk of infection
  • Most bites and stings will heal on their own with self-care. If the bite or sting becomes infected, contact a medical professional

How to Handle an Allergic Reaction

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include coughing, trouble breathing, chest pain, sweating, confusion, nausea and hives. If you observe these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1. If the employee has a known allergy, treat the employee with their EpiPen.

By properly maintaining a company’s campus and building throughout the year, employers can help reduce the insect population and protect workers from unwanted guests during the warm summer months.

If you haven't read last week's post on Workplace Safety, read it here.

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