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Outdoor Safety: Bugs, Snakes and Plants

Keeping your crew safe from creepy crawlers

Bugs, snakes, rodents, and toxic plants are a year round problem when you work outdoors in Florida. Rodents and bugs can carry bacteria, parasites or viruses. Workers can be allergic to wasp and bee stings. Some snakes are deadly, and toxic plants can cause painful blisters and rashes.

4,600 workers a year make visits to the emergency room and have to take days off from work from insect bites alone. Florida is a tough place to work. We have the second highest number of insect non-fatal injuries that require days off, right behind California. Florida also comes in second to death by insect, right behind Texas. Anaphylactic shock, often associated with insect-related injuries, occurred in close to half the deaths, the BLS said.

Building and grounds cleaning, warehouse, and construction industries account for the majority of cases, and it appears that bugs like to munch on people in the 25 to 54 age range the best. Close to 94% of cases occur between April and October, with September seeing the largest number of deaths.

While most claims for insect bites and stings are minor, some claims can be expensive if the employee receives multiple bites or has allergies.

Tips to avoid outdoor dangers:

Wear light-colored, clothing that covers as much of the body as possible, and the proper personal protection equipment, such as gloves and work boots.

Before picking up an item that’s on the ground, first check underneath for ants, spiders and snakes.

Keep work areas clean of discarded food to keep from attracting rodents and insects.

Fire Ants — are aggressive and leave a painful bite.

Don’t disturb or stand near ant mounds.

Fire ants can be found on trees and in the water, as well as in areas that have been recently flooded by rain, so look carefully before starting work.

Symptoms: sharp pain and burning at the bite site, along with redness, swelling, itching and red welts with white centers. Allergic reactions include severe swelling of the face, lips or throat, breathing difficulties, lightheadedness, fainting, nausea or vomiting.

First Aid Tips: Wash the bite area with cool water and apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to the skin to reduce itching and swelling.

Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be taken to help relieve itching. Apply a triple antibiotic ointment to the stings to help prevent infection in stings that have been opened by scratching.

Wasps and bees — these stings are the most common to cause life threatening allergic reactions. Workers with a history of severe allergic reactions to insect bites or stings should carry an epinephrine auto-injector (Epi-Pen) and wear medical ID jewelry stating their allergy.

Routinely check the trees, ceilings of open buildings, under roof eaves and on equipment such as ladders for wasp/bee nests. They can form quickly, within a day.