By: Accident Fund
More than two million Americans are allergic to stings from insects like bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets. These individuals are at risk of life-threatening reactions, but even those without a history of allergic reactions can experience a severe response.
Employers and employees should take the precautions necessary to avoid work-site insect stings and be aware of sting prevention and response tactics.
- Evaluate work-sites for hazardous bee and insect exposures.
- Establish safety protocol and provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and training to prevent insect stings. Training should educate employees on:
- Potential exposures
- Exposure prevention
- Insect identification
- How to respond if stung
Employee preparedness before and while working on a job site is critical. Employees exposed to the risk of insect stings should practice the following safety precautions:
- Avoid use of scented soaps and deodorants and cologne or perfume
- Wear clean, light-colored clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.
- Wear proper PPE when stinging insects are known to be present (e.g. a hat with netting, an extra layer of clothing or pants taped to boots and sleeves taped to gloves.)
- Properly and frequently clear work-sites of food, beverages, downed fruit and garbage.
Responding to Insects and Stings
Employees should know when to respond calmly to stinging insects and when to quickly get away.
- Workers with previously known allergic reactions to insect stings should carry EpiPens and wear a form of medical identification that states their allergy.
- If a single insect is present, remain calm and avoid swatting at it.
- If multiple insects attempt to sting at once, or if loud buzzing reveals a disturbed nest, immediately run to escape the environment.
- If stung:
- For those with a history of allergic reactions, utilize an EpiPen and/or call 911 for immediate medical assistance.
- Look for the stinger and remove it using a stiff object like your fingernail or a credit card. Do not squeeze the stinger with your fingers or tweezers; this could promote further irritation.
- Wash the affected area with soap and water.
- Apply ice and or/anti-itch cream to reduce swelling and itching.
- Take antihistamine to reduce the effects of the sting.
For a complete guide to stinging insect avoidance and response, click here.