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Protect workers against wasp, hornet, and bee stings

Working outdoors means coming into contact with all kinds of insects. At best, stings can cause pain and irritation, and at worst, an allergic reaction. It is important for workers to understand how to avoid being stung, know where to locate a first aid kit, and help treat fellow workers who have been afflicted by an insect sting. Consider the following information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Hornets, wasps, and bees are often attracted to flowery perfumes or soaps, so workers who spend a great deal of their time outside should refrain from using fragrant products before coming to work. Products that have a banana odor are particularly appealing to these insects.

Lightly-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible are best for avoiding bee stings and other attacks. Human sweat and oil can attract these insects, so workers need to be sure to wear clean clothes and bathe daily.

Bees and hornets are attracted to the pollen that flowers produce, so it is a good idea to avoid working near flowers whenever possible. Wasps, on the other hand, are predators, and they are attracted to garbage and the remains of human food. Make sure to clean up all work areas after meals to avoid attracting these pests.

When attacked by bees, hornets, or wasps, get to safety as quickly as possible, as bees release a chemical that attracts other bees when they sting. Shaded areas are better for escaping these insects than open areas. If possible, run indoors and close the door. If you are driving and discover an insect inside, you should slowly stop the car and roll down all the windows to let it escape. Never jump in the water to avoid a swarm of bees or hornets, because some species may stay above the surface and continue to sting when you come up for air.

The CDC estimates that around 100 people die each year from allergic reactions to bee, wasp, and hornet stings. Workers who know they have these allergies should carry an epinephrine auto injector (EpiPen) and a medical signifier, such as a bracelet, necklace, or card, that contains information about their condition whenever they work outdoors. If workers do get stung, have someone stay with them to watch for any allergic reactions.

The area where the sting occurred should be washed with soap and water before attempting to remove the stinger. Do not attempt to remove it with tweezers or by squeezing the wound. Instead, run a clean fingernail or gauze from a first aid kit over the sting to draw the stinger out.

Ice can be applied to a recent sting to help reduce swelling. Refrain from scratching or picking at a sting so that it doesn't become further irritated or infected.

Bees, wasps, and hornets are an inevitable part of any outdoor environment. Employers should keep all the necessary safety supplies on hand to treat stings and practice safety protocol with their workers so that they know what to do when someone has an allergic reaction.

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