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A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ComplianceSigns.com ®

April 20, 2016

Safety Tip: Protect Workers from Mosquito-borne Diseases


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Warm summer weather - and mosquitoes - are just around the corner in much of the U.S. Many areas have recently experienced flooding that may bring bumper crops of the pesky pests. Here are some tips from NIOSH to help keep outdoor workers safe from mosquito-borne illnesses.


Employers should protect workers and workers should protect themselves from diseases spread by mosquitoes. Although most people do not become sick after a bite from an infected mosquito, some people have a mild, short-term illness or (rarely) severe or long-term illness. Severe cases of mosquito-borne diseases can cause death. Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue and malaria.


Workers at Risk

Workers are at risk when they are working where mosquitoes are biting. Different species of mosquitoes are found in different geographic locations, are most active at different times, and spread different diseases. The risk to workers varies by:

  • Geographic location
  • Habitat at the work site
  • Season
  • Time of day


Workers at risk of being bitten by mosquitoes are those who spend time outdoors, including farmers, foresters, landscapers, groundskeepers, gardeners, painters, roofers, pavers, construction workers, laborers, mechanics, entomologists, wildlife biologists and field workers. Laboratory and clinical workers who handle infected fluids or tissues may also be at risk of infection. Transmission may occur through a break in their skin or via a sharp penetration injury.


What Employers Should Do

Mosquitoes breed in standing water. To decrease mosquito populations at worksites:

  • Remove, turn over, cover or store equipment
  • Remove debris from ditches
  • Fill in ruts and other areas that collect standing water
  • Remove tires, buckets, bottles and barrels that collect water 
  • Place drain holes in containers that collect water and cannot be discarded


Employers can keep mosquitoes out of indoor worksites by ensuring that doors and windows have screens and are kept closed when possible. Employers should also protect workers by providing:

  • Training about: the risk of exposure to mosquitoes; how they can protect themselves from mosquito bites; symptoms of diseases spread by mosquitoes
  • Protective clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • EPA-registered insect repellents to use on exposed skin and clothing


What Workers Should Do

Workers can reduce their risk of mosquito bites while working outdoors by:

  • Helping to reduce sources of standing water
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Using EPA-registered insect repellents on exposed skin and clothing, as directed on the product labels


Workers who develop symptoms of a mosquito-borne disease should report this promptly to their supervisor and get medical attention.


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