PLH Group reminds workers in all pipeline and power line construction work environments to always assess for hazards prior to beginning work and throughout the workday. This ranges from tripping hazards to unwelcome guests. And we’re not talking about your next-door neighbor that always seems to ring the doorbell just as the family is sitting down for dinner. We are talking about rodents, snakes, spiders, insects, and other pesky critters.
Approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease— a disease spread through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick– are reported by state health departments to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year for cases throughout the United States. However, this number does not reflect every Lyme disease diagnosis. In fact, the CDC believes that there are actually approximately 300,000 yearly cases of Lyme disease contracted in the United States. Additionally, the CDC reports about 7,000-8,000 venomous snake bites each year. Thankfully, though, with proper medical attention, most of these bites are treatable without severe consequences. So what should you do if you encounter one of these unwelcome guests? Alert your supervisor, and follow these tips:
Insects and Spiders: Wear a hat, long pants, high socks, and a long-sleeved shirt to protect skin from insects and spiders (if acceptable for the day’s scope of work), and wear EPA-approved insect repellent. Most bites or stings can be treated with over-the-counter ointments to relieve pain. However, be sure to monitor the victim. If the victim’s conditions change– such as trouble breathing, severe swelling of the bite area, or nausea– seek medical assistance.
Ticks: Similar to protective precautions for insects and spiders, wear clothing that covers the skin (when possible) and EPA-approved tick repellent. Before going inside, examine your clothing for ticks. Use hot water to wash and high heat to dry clothing to kill ticks that may have embedded themselves in the clothing. Then, shower as soon as possible. Be sure to perform a full-body check for ticks, paying special attention to warmer parts of the body, such as behind your knees, under your arms, and in your hair. If you find a tick on your body, follow proper tick removal procedures.
Snakes: Remember, snakes aren’t always slithering around on the ground. A snake may be found sunning in a tree or other elevated area. A snake’s striking distance is about half the length of the snake. Therefore, give the snake plenty of room. If bitten, get medical attention as quickly as possible. Noting the color and shape of the snake’s head will help the medical staff give proper treatment. If a coworker has been bitten, lay them down, keeping the bite below heart-level. Keep the victim calm to slow the spread of the venom. Do not touch the wound. Instead, cover it with a clean, dry dressing until help arrives.
Wild or Stray Animals: Be extremely cautious when working in areas where animals may be hiding, and wear protective gloves if possible. If you encounter a wild or stray animal, keep your distance. The animal may be carrying diseases, such as Rabies or Rat Bite Fever. If a dead animal is found on site, properly remove it as quickly as possible so it does not attract other animals. If bitten or scratched by a wild or stray animal, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
PLH Group reminds all pipeline and power line workers that the most important way to protect yourself and others from unwanted guests is to always be aware of your surroundings. It is always better to detect these guests before they strike at you.