Many of them are task-related, and easy to focus in on. Others? Not so much.

Insect-borne diseases are hard to nail down, as they don’t present symptoms right away. A tick can remain hidden, a mosquito bite unnoticed, or a sharp sting might be forgotten about minutes later. The effects can lead to danger down the line – from short-term sickness to longer, Not every danger on the worksite is obvious. illnesses. From 2004 to 2016, there areover 53,000 cases of insect-borne diseases were reported to the CDC every year, from all walks of life.

Some of these cases were contracted on job sites across the nation. A construction site can be a perfect place for insects to breed and pass on diseases. As an employer, what do you need to watch out for, and what can you do?

The Pests

The prime culprit when it comes to insect-borne diseases is the mosquito. They breed quick, they breed everywhere, and they are drawn to humans. Mosquitos spread a long list of diseases, including:

  • Malaria
  • Dengue
  • Yellow Fever
  • Lymphatic filarisis
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • WestNile Virus
  • Chikungunya
  • Zika virus
  • …. And dozens more

These little guys aren’t alone, as there are numerous bugs  that pose a threat. Blackflies carry river blindness, while sandflies can bring their own group of maladies. Whereasthe tsetse fly, while not a problem in America, puts 55 million people at risk of sleeping sickness every year. Fleas can infect humans with typhus or cat scratch fever, while ticks spread Lyme disease, Heartland Virus, Powassan disease, Colorado tick fever, and plenty of other infections.

The Problems

If you’re lucky, you’ll just have an annoying bite that itches for a few days. We’ve all had fly and mosquito bites, and we know that they are pretty uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, the diseases borne by these insects mentioned above can get quite a bit worse. Symptoms of these insect-borne diseases can run anywhere from body, muscle, and joint pain to fever and rash, headaches, stiff neck, and stiff shoulders. This can progress to fatigue, and can even lead to paralysis depending on the type of disease. Some can lead to long-term issues, while a few can even lead to fatalities if not found and treated quickly enough.

Keeping Insects Out of Your Site

One of the best ways to avoid insect-borne diseases is to remove what draws those insects to your construction site in the first place. Standing water is one of the biggest threats – it’s a breeding space for mosquitos, who need only four days to lay and hatch eggs. Whether it’s a bottle cap full of water or a pond, there’s enough room for dozens, if not hundreds of mosquitos to be born.

  • Routinely clear out garbage and debris that creates hiding and breeding spots for insects.
  • Fill in ruts, potholes, and divots where water can accumulate. Plus, it prevents injuries from workers tripping or twisting an ankle or knee.
  • Remove tires, buckets, bottles, and barrels that collect water. If they can’t be discarded, turn them over or place drain holes in them to prevent water from collecting.
  • Clear as much overgrowth as possible from job sites, including forest litter and tall grasses – this is where ticks love to hide.
  • If there is a possibility of or need for standing water, use mosquito dunks. These products utilize bacteria that is toxic to mosquito larvae but harmless to pets, fish, wildlife, and humans in order to kill off mosquitos before they hatch.
  • Consider placing high-capacity fans near work crews – not only do they help to circulate air and cool your team off, the constant moving air makes it difficult for mosquitos to land and bite.
  • If there is a clear infestation already, check with the local authorities to see if environmental spraying can be done on site to kill off insects.

The easiest way to prevent insect-borne diseases is to make it difficult to the insects to live and breed in the first place.

Personal Insect Protection

The individual worker can also help their own cause when it comes to avoiding these insects that carry and transmit disease and discomfort. Encourage your team to take some of these precautions to reduce their vulnerability:

  1. Maintain a clean work area.
  2. Bathe daily and avoid cologne, perfume, perfumed soaps, heavily-scented shampoos, and fragrant deodorants that can attract insects.
  3. Wear clean, light-colored clothing that covers as much of the body as possible – also a great way to reduce the UV Ray exposure that can lead to sunburn and trigger melanoma.
  4. Wear high boots, and tuck pant legs in to keep the insects from getting to the skin.
  5. Wear a hat with mosquito netting.
  6. Use insect repellantswith an EPA-registered active ingredient. This can include sprays utilizing DEET, for exposed skin and clothing, permethrin that can be applied to clothing and gear, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  7. Remain calm around flying insects – swatting and motioning may prompt them to sting.

While insect-borne diseases may sound very dangerous, and definitely foreboding, they can be avoided fairly easily if the proper precautions are taken. Keep your workers safe on the job, and keep your construction site safe from insect-borne diseases – and avoid adding another case to that annual average. Our team here at PowerPak Civil and Safety is ready to help you in any way possible, just reach outto our team today!