Protecting Outdoor Workers From The Zika Virus: Three Practical Steps For Employers

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According to the CDC, no local mosquito-borne cases of the Zika disease have yet occurred in the United States, but people returning to the United States from overseas have returned positive test results for the virus. The prevalence of mosquitoes across many parts of the United States means that many Americans are at an increasing risk of the virus, especially where people must work outdoors. If you employ outdoor workers, find out how you can protect your people against mosquitoes and the Zika virus with the three following practical steps.

Issue staff members with insect repellent

Insect repellent can deter mosquitoes from biting outdoor workers' exposed skin, which will, in turn, cut the risk of exposure to the Zika virus. Employers of outdoor workers may wish to issue their staff members with EPA-registered insect repellents to keep these biting insects away.

Use repellents that include DEET, picaridin or other active ingredients known to work effectively against mosquitos. Make sure employees follow the product label instructions, reminding them that repeat applications are vital during long working periods. Remember that employees should apply sunscreen before using insect repellent.

Eliminate standing water sources near outdoor work areas

Standing water will attract mosquitoes, and even a relatively small amount of water will allow the insects to multiply in large quantities. Removing standing water sources will discourage breeding mosquitoes, which will cut the risk of spreading the Zika virus.

Don't just focus on the obvious sources like buckets, barrels or troughs. Objects that aren't designed to hold water may still contain stagnant water that will attract mosquitoes. For example, discarded tires will often hold stagnant water in which mosquitoes will thrive.

Issue protective clothing guidelines

Mosquitoes can only bite exposed skin, so protective clothing can keep outdoor workers safe. Of course, in hot weather, excess clothing is also uncomfortable, so it's important to make sure outdoor workers have the right items.

Encourage staff to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes that cover exposed skin on their arms and legs. Hats with mosquito nets are advisable in high-risk areas. Employees should even wear socks to cover their ankles and lower legs. Bosses should allow their workers to take more frequent breaks during hotter periods to avoid heat exhaustion.

Outdoor workers are at higher risk of exposure to the Zika virus due to contact with mosquitoes. Talk to a pest control expert for more advice about how to deal with specific mosquito-related issues. Companies like Zika Cube LLC may be able to help.