Outdoor safety (pests and plants)

Whether at work or at play, you should be doing all you can to avoid injury. You might not be exposed to all these hazards on the job, but we still want you going home safe.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, between 2004 and 2010, Oregon ranked number eight in the nation for accidental drownings. Most at risk are young men between the ages of 15 and 20 who are swimming in rivers, but everyone who is playing or working near water needs to take precautions. 

The California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program Action Page, Preventing Worker Drownings, provides videos and fact sheets in English and in Spanish to help keep workers and others safe in the water. The page includes discussion questions to use in employee trainings.

Insect bites and stings
For outdoor workers, insects can range from a mild annoyance to a potentially life threatening hazard. Thousands of people are stung each year; as many as 90 to 100 die from allergic reactions, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Learn how to protect workers from bees, wasps, hornets, fire ants, and scorpions, and what to do if someone is stung or bitten. This NIOSH fact sheet shares tips to help prevent diseases spread from the bites from infected ticks and mosquitoes.

Poisonous plants
"Leaves of three, let it be" is a good reminder to avoid poison oak and poison ivy, which can cause an itchy, painful rash when touched and lung irritation when burned. Visit the NIOSH website for fast facts and other resources on how to identify poisonous plants (including poison sumac, which has clusters of seven to 13 leaves), prevent exposures, and administer first aid. 

Rodents and the hantavirus
Humans can be exposed to the hantavirus when they come in contact with the droppings, urine, or saliva of rodents.  They are at greatest risk if their occupations put them in areas frequented by rodents, such as crawl spaces, sheds, outbuildings, and barns.  This information page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a comprehensive resource providing guidance on prevention, transmission, symptoms, and treatment of the hantavirus.


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