Outdoor Worker Safety: 7 Ways to Protect Against Poisonous Plants

The risk of poisonous plant exposure is at its peak when employees work for long periods outdoors. Symptoms of exposure can occur from direct contact, from resins, oils (such as urushiol), or juices, as well as by UV/sunlight (phyto-photo) reactions.

Protect your employees from poisonous plants with these five prevention measures.

1. Know the poisonous plants most common in your area. Be able to identify the plants which may cause health issues due to exposure. A list of poisonous plants can be found on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website.

2. Make protective clothing a part of your safety program. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are a great place to start. Gloves are also recommended.

3. Avoid direct contact. This includes equipment used to remove poisonous plants.

4. Do not burn plants containing urushoil. Doing so can cause it to be released into the air and inhaled into the lungs.

5. Learn the symptoms of exposure. They can include skin redness (similar to sunburn) and itching, mild swelling, and in severe cases blisters and significant pain. These symptoms can pertain to poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac and wild parsnip exposure.

6. If symptoms of exposure develop…wash skin and affected areas with soap and water, rubbing alcohol or poison plant wash as appropriate, apply anti-biotic creams, wet compress or calamine/cortisone creams or lotions.

7. Seek medical attention promptly if… there are severe blisters, swelling, exposure in sensitive areas or respiratory issues. An affected employee should be sure to tell their health care provider they work outdoors in an area where poisonous plants are present.

If you would like customized training on protecting your employees from poisonous plants, contact your North Risk Partner advisor directly. Don’t have an advisor? No problem! We’ll help you find one.

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This blog is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. Content is provided by our professional consulting partners at Integrated Loss Control (ILC).


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