It’s been a bad year for woods workers when it comes to stinging insects

Safety Alert Type: 
Other
Location: 
Province-wide
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2013-08-01
Company Name: 
Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Field crews are encountering a higher than normal amount of stinging insects (hornets and wasps) in the field. Some workers have been stung several times. Many nests are located on the ground and are easily disturbed when stepped on.

At best, stings can cause pain and irritation, and at worst, an allergic reaction. Normal Reactions to Stinging Insects Include: pain swelling and redness around the sting site. Localized reactions can result in swelling that extends beyond the sting site (for example a person stung on the ankle may have swelling of the entire leg) while this looks alarming , it is generally no more serious than a normal reaction.

Anyone may be susceptible to an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions are the most serious and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of an allergic (anaphylactic) reaction include: difficulty breathing, hives that appear as a red itchy rash and spread to areas beyond the sting, swelling of the face, throat, or mouth tissue, wheezing or difficulty swallowing, restlessness or anxiety, rapid pulse, Dizziness or sharp drop in blood pressure.

Although severe allergic reactions are not that common, they can lead to shock, cardiac arrest and unconsciousness in 10 minute or less.

This type of reaction can occur within minutes after a sting and can be fatal. Get emergency treatment as soon as possible.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Consider the following information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

• 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.

• 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.

• 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. All workers should carry up-to-date antihistamine (like Benadryl) in their first aid kit.

• 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 finger nail 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.

• The worker should mark/identify the nest area only if they feel it is safe to do so.

• Convey hazards to contractors, clients or anyone else you can think of that may be affected by the hazard.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

For more information: Doug Campbell, Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd. (250) 768-5131

File attachments
Safety_Alert_Gorman_Bros-stinging_insects_2013-8-1.pdf
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