Protection Against Insects

Protection Against Insects

Image result for mosquitoes

Its that time of year where if you work outdoors at all you must deal with pesky little insects.  Certain insects are not only a nuisance but can pose a safety hazard.  Insects like ticks, mosquitoes, and stinging insects all pose a hazard to a worker in the outdoors.  The employers’ duty to deal with these hazards are covered under the “general duty” clause where it requires employers to take every reasonable precaution to provide a safe and health workplace and protect workers from known or foreseeable risks.  So, if a worker is at risk of being bitten by one of these hazardous insects, you as the employer have the duty to take reasonable steps to protect them from that hazard.  To ensure you as an employer, properly protect your workers from these insects, there is a basic approach you can take to deal with these safety hazards:

Step #1:  Identify & Assess Risk

First evaluate the workplace to determine if the workers are at risk of being bitten by dangerous insects.  If its determined they are exposed to such hazards, assess the seriousness of the hazard.

Step #2:  Control the Risk

Now its time to take steps to eliminate or control the risk.  An example would be to give workers bug spray to spray on themselves to prevent insect bites.  Another measure could be to removed standing water in or near the workplace to avoid attracting mosquitoes.

Step #3:  Educate and Train Workers

Teach your workers about the risks of insect bites and train them on how to avoid being bitten by bugs.

Step #4:  Monitor & Follow Up

Just like any control that’s put in place in your safety management system, you should monitor its effectiveness.


Ticks live in tall grass and wooded areas.  They are usually active from April through October.  Prevention against tick bites is important because their bites can transmit Lyme Disease.  The risk of contracting Lyme disease is on the rise across Canada.

Some protections that can be used when working in areas where ticks may be present are:

  • Wear closed-toe shoes, long sleeved shirts & pants;
  • Pull socks over pant legs to prevent them from crawling up your legs;
  • Wear light-colored clothes to make spotting ticks easier;
  • Use insect repellant that contains DEET or Icaridin;
  • Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks; and
  • Do daily full body checks for ticks


Mosquito season starts in mid April and last until hard frost in late fall.  The primary virus-carriers are most prevalent between mid July to mid September.  The most danger here in Saskatchewan from mosquitos comes from the ones that carry the West Nile Virus.  Symptoms of West Nile non-neurological Syndrome can be headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.  West Nile Neurological Syndrome can have symptoms of severe infection that can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.

Some protections that can be used to decrease exposure to their potentially harmful bite are:

  • Schedule work to avoid workers being outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active;
  • Require at-risk workers to wear light-coloured long sleeved shirts, pants and socks
  • Have workers use insect repellant containing DEET; and
  • Eliminate sources of standing water such as rain barrels, stagnant pools and ponds

Stinging Insects

Attacks by stinging insects such as bees and wasps can be a real threat to workers.  These bites can be very painful and for some workers even deadly if say they have a bee allergy.

Some protections that can be used to protect against stinging insects are:

  • Wear light colored clothing;
  • Avoid perfumed soaps and shampoos—don’t wear perfume;
  • Wear clean clothing and bathe daily;
  • Avoid flowering plants;
  • Keep work areas clean as some insects are attracted to discarded food;
  • When attacked by several stinging insects, run away as some insects like bees release a chemical when they sting that attracts more bees; and
  • If a worker has a history of an allergy to insect bites, have them carry and epinephrine autoinjector and wear medical id jewellery stating their allergy.

In conclusion, most safety hazards involve chemicals or conditions like extreme heat, and inanimate objects but living creatures like insects can also pose a threat to workers.  Protecting your workers from insects involves the same process as addressing hazards of other kinds.  It’s something we need to consider and put effective controls in place to prevent injuries that can have serious consequences.


OHS Insider May 2017 volume 13, Issue 5


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