Don't Get Stung by These On-the-Job Hazards
NEW YORK (MainStreet) It's the Mean Season. Primetime for bug mayhem. While most of us have to deal with noisy cubemates or other workplace irritants, some folks are on the job among real pests: bees, spiders, mites and more. And between now and October 31, the bugs are on a full-out blitz to bite, sting or gnaw you out of a job. In fact, the most insect-related deaths occur in September, according to the Department of Labor.
From 2008 to 2010, non-fatal workplace injuries related to insects causing missed days of work ranged from 4,930 to 6,870.
"Thousands of people are stung by insects each year, and as many as 90100 people in the United States die as a result of allergic reactions," says the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Repeat offenders include brown recluse spiders, fire ants and black widow spiders.
Bees are at the top of the list, with 52 fatal occupational injuries during the period 2003-2010. "Eleven workers were killed in wasp-related incidents including three incidents involving yellow jackets. In addition, seven fatal occupational injuries over that period were from spiders and four were from ants," the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.
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The industries most at-risk include farming, construction and landscaping. Workers in these occupations are likely to stumble upon irritable insects in their natural habitat. Notably, the brown recluse spider can be found "any place which had remained undisturbed for lengthy periods of time, such as behind pictures, beneath or behind furniture, in boxes of toys, in clothing, among stored papers, in the corrugations of cardboard boxes and in discarded articles such as tires, inner tubes, and assorted other junk," according to the BLS report.
Of the total 83 deaths over the period analyzed, 72 were directly caused by an insect. The other 11 deaths were the result of a worker attempting an escape resulting in being distracted while driving or falling from a height. Five of the victims fell from a tractor.
Texas is particularly hazardous. Nearly one-in-ten workplace injuries related to insects occurred in the Lone Star state. One-quarter of all fatal injuries occur in Texas, as well. Florida sees 10% of such fatalities. California and New York are not far behind.
Other states also reported a significant number of days missed from work due to such injuries, including Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick