Seven Steps to Protect Outdoor Workers From Stinging Insects

Most of us think about stinging insects being a nuisance in our backyard but outdoor workers including facility maintenance personnel, groundskeepers, loading dock workers and other employees whose job duties require them to be outdoors can be put at risk from these pests.

Allergic reactions to stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the hospitals each year, according to research from the National Pest Management Association and commercial facility managers and employees need to respect the threat.

The more aggressive social wasps including yellow jackets and hornets that outdoor workers encounter do not reside solely in hives attached to trees or building overhangs. Yellow jackets construct their nests in the ground, as do European hornets, and when landscapers or construction workers are digging or grading ground they run the risk of disturbing a nest.

Last year in Riverside, California a 49-year old construction was tragically killed when his crew was grading space for a new parking lot and the bulldozer blade struck an underground sprinkler box that was home to an active hive. The swarm overtook the crew and the worker later passed away due to a severe allergic reaction to multiple stings.

This unfortunate incident draws attention to the need for outdoor workers to pay close attention to their surroundings and take the proper precautions.

The Sprague Pest Experts recommend outdoor workers and supervisors should keep the following points in mind to prevent an unpleasant encounter with stinging insects:

1.    Do a visual inspection of the property – looking up and down – for stinging insects gathering in certain areas of the construction site or property.

2.    Watch for bees or wasps or going in or out of holes or spaces in the ground near where work is scheduled to be performed.

3.    Stinging insects are less likely to get agitated in the morning so, if possible, do the work at that time.

4.    Keep work areas clean of leftover food; sugary, sweet food is a major attractant for social wasps such as yellow jackets.

5.    Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and gloves when working outdoors. 

6.    If workers have a history of allergic reactions to insect bites or stings they should consider carrying an EpiPen and wear an identification bracelet. 

7.    If you locate a nest, call a pest management professional to deal with it – do not attempt to remove the nest.

Stinging Insects: Bees, Hornets & Mosquitos