Unexpected Hazards When Working Outdoors
Outdoor workers can be exposed to various species, such as snakes with venomous bites, insects that sting and toxic plants, which can result in a visit to the emergency department after only a moment of physical contact.
Exposure may cause an allergic reaction that is mildly uncomfortable or debilitating pain requiring immediate medical attention. The specific types of hazards vary depending on the nature of the outdoor work being performed, geographic region, season and duration of the job. However, plant and animal experts and safety officials advise that people who work outdoors take appropriate precautions when on the job.
TIP: Hot weather increases the boldness of snakes. You will find that cool, dark, protected areas such as under sheds, rubble, stored materials, plant and equipment may attract these creatures.
What to Do If You or a Coworker Are Bitten:
Move the bitten person away from striking distance of the snake (approximately one-half to two thirds the length of the snake) to avoid additional bites.
Stay Calm! Call 9-1-1 or have someone else call 9-1-1. Always treat snakebites as an emergency!
Notify your supervisor and other employees.
Observe the bite area for 2 puncture wounds (fang wounds). The “absence” of visible fang marks is NOT evidence of a lack of a venomous snake bite. Some venomous snakes have very small fangs (coral snakes) and the punctures may not be visible to the human eye.
Have someone identify or take a picture of the snake if possible – do not approach or attempt to catch or kill the snake! The emergency room (ER) does NOT want the snake!
Restrict movement and keep the bite area below the heart. Movement and elevation of the bite area above the heart will increase the heart rate and the rate at which the venom moves through the body.
If possible, wash the bite area with soap and water as soon as possible.
Cover wound with clean, dry bandage.
If EMS is not readily available, apply first aid (on the way to the ER if possible) and begin transport of the victim to the nearest ER.
For more information or training on the risks that snake bites poses click here.