The CPWR Toolbox Talk on Lyme Disease addresses risks associated with working in outdoor settings. The resource includes a ‘real-life’ case example, steps to prevent a related injury or illness, and questions for discussion. It includes an image (page 2) that illustrates the hazard, which can be posted in a central location as a reminder of steps to work safely.
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Lyme disease affects everyone differently. Some people get sick in about a week. The first sign may be a rash near the tick bite. Other people may not seem sick until months or years after a tick bite. The disease can permanently damage your nervous system and joints. Sometimes joint replacement is needed.
Here is an Example
A group of electric utility line workers was laying lines for development of a new office building park. One of them, Sean, was working very close to the bushes. One day he noticed bite marks on his arm and went to the doctor. Sean had been outside so much that his doctor tested him for Lyme disease. Fortunately, the test was negative; the bite marks were simply from mosquitoes. Now Sean makes sure to wear long sleeves, long pants and tick repellent spray.
- Could this incident have been avoided?
- Do you wear insect repellent?
Protection Against Lyme Disease
- Be aware deer ticks are tiny. Most can fit on the head of a pin. The ticks are found in brush, woods and tall grass. May and June are the worst months, but the ticks are active in all warm months.
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when working in wooded areas or tall grass. Put your pants cuffs inside your work boots. Tuck in your shirt. Light-colored clothing may make it easier to spot ticks.
- Use a tick repellent. Spray a repellent near the openings on your clothes, such as the bottoms of your pants and the waistband.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after work (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- If you are bitten, see a doctor. Your doctor may want to give you a blood test to see if you are infected. (Be aware: blood tests may not show up positive until 2 weeks or more after a tick bite.) The doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
What Are We Going to Do Today?
What will we do here at the worksite today to prevent Lyme disease?
OSHA REGULATION: 1926.51
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when working in wooded areas or tall grass.
- Use a tick repellent.
- If you are bitten, see a doctor.