If you work outdoors, like on construction sites, for a nature preserve or for a park, you may be at risk for experiencing an insect sting or bite at some point. A 10-year study released in 2014 found 10.1 million people visited emergency care departments for noncanine bite and sting injuries during a decade, with 67.5 percent of injuries from insects and 20.8 percent from arachnids. WorkCare reports outdoor workers account for the majority of incidents.
Workers who are bit or stung at work should alert their manager and get medical treatment. In some cases, workers’ compensation can cover an injury. In others, an employer’s negligence may have contributed to the bite or sting. Here’s how to stay protected, what your workers’ compensation rights are, and when you might want to hire a Birmingham personal injury attorney or workers’ compensation lawyer after a bite or sting injury.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recommends taking the following precautions to stay protected from bite and sting injuries at work, especially when you are working outdoors.
Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks and boots.
Use insect repellent.
Avoid areas covered by fire ants.
Wear protective gloves.
Always be alert while working. Watch where you place your hands and feet.
Being aware of your surroundings and wearing protective clothing and accessories are two of the most important ways you can stay protected. If you notice dangerous conditions, such as a beehive or spider web, notify your manager before getting to work.
If you are allergic to any insects, like bees, you should also alert your manager before working. If you feel like the work conditions you are asked to work in are dangerous, you may ask your employer not to work in them. Employers are bound by federal and state laws to provide safe working environments. Employees have the right to report dangerous conditions to OSHA.
If there is not imminent danger, but there is a safety hazard present, the employee should file a written complain to the employer for the hazard to be corrected and can file a complaint with OSHA.
If you take the proper precautions and are bit or stung at work, you should take certain steps to ensure you are properly protected.
Be Aware of Severe Bites
Warning signs that a bite is severe include:
- Chest pain
- Loss of breath
- Serious swelling
- Slurred speech
If you experience any of these, ask for medical treatment immediately. If you are unsure of the severity, you can request emergency treatment anyway. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Use the First Aid Kit
Every safe working environment will have a stocked first aid kit available with treatments for bites and stings. Healthline recommends:
- Remove a stinger by gently scraping the skin with a flat-edged object. Avoid tweezers.
- Wash the bite with soap and water.
- Use gauze to apply pressure to stop any bleeding.
- Cover the wound with a bandage.
- Place an ice pack on an area.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication.
- Use calamine lotion or a paste of baking soda and water to alleviate pain and itching.
Again, there is no substitute for professional emergency services. Your employer should call them if you request them or are incapable of responding.
Document the Injury
Workers’ compensation protects workers from on-the-job injuries and provides monetary compensation if an employee faces medical bills or has to miss time off work due to an injury. After you receive medical treatment, even if emergency services are not called, you should work with your employer to document the injury. Any injury that receives treatment beyond first aid is required to be reported to OSHA by the employer with a form like this.
However, even if you don’t receive medical attention beyond first aid, you should still ask your employer to document the injury and give you a copy of the document for your protection. If the bite or sting develops into something worse and requires medical attention later, that initial documentation can protect you.
After a bite or sting, monitor its progress and your pain levels. You can take photos of the injury and keep a journal. You should also note the work conditions and any factors that may have contributed to the injury.
Reasons to Work with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you believe the bite or sting injury you experienced was due to an employer’s negligence, you should contact a Birmingham workers’ compensation attorney. You may not receive all the compensation you deserve from your employer, or you may receive none at all. Pittman, Dutton & Hellums offers free consultations. Some signs of negligence include:
- You voiced concerns about unsafe conditions, but they were ignored.
- You were instructed to work in an unsafe environment.
- How your employer handled your injury was inappropriate. For example, your employer failed to contact emergency services.
Your health and safety at work deserve to be protected. After experiencing any severe workplace injury, we can help you determine your next best course of action, with a free no-obligation consultation.