Tick- and other insect-borne infectious disease exposure
What is the potential risk?
Ticks and other insects such as mosquitoes can carry pathogens, which may be transmitted to humans through a bite. Workers who are exposed to these pathogens may be at risk of developing diseases such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus.
Ticks live in forested areas, tall grass and shrubs, while mosquitoes generally live in areas near standing water. Ticks and mosquitoes bite humans because they are a food source. If the insect is carrying a pathogen, it may then be transmitted to a human. Most tick and insect diseases can be effectively treated if the disease is identified early enough.
There have been incidents of workers in B.C. developing a tick or insect-borne disease.
Workers may be at risk if they work outdoors or if they work with animals that may be carrying ticks, such as household pets. This can include workers in construction, landscaping, forestry, farming, land surveying, park or wildlife management, tourism, and veterinary workers.
What industries may be at risk?
- Animal humane society or wildlife rehabilitation
- Guided tour, hiking, river expeditions, hunting, or fishing
- Landscaping, lawn or garden maintenance, or weed control
- Surveying (land, private practice)
- Veterinary hospital or veterinary services
- Wildlife conservation
- Wildlife rehabilitation or relocation
How can I reduce the risk in my workplace?
As an employer, you need to know if there is the potential for the risk identified in this advisory to be present in your workplace. It’s your responsibility to regularly inspect your workplace, and to ensure that your safety procedures and practices control the risk. The following information highlights some of the sections of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation and Guidelines that are most relevant to this risk.
Section 5.2 of the OHS Regulation requires that if a worker is or may be exposed to a biological agent, which could cause an adverse health effect, the employer must prepare and implement written procedures to eliminate or minimize the risk of exposure to the biological agent.
Section 6.34 of the Regulation requires if a worker has or may have occupational exposure, the employer must develop and implement an exposure control plan (ECP). This includes conducting a risk assessment, selecting appropriate controls, developing work procedures, and educating and training workers.
Where can I find resources?
You can access the following resources on worksafebc.com:
- WorkSafe Bulletin: Protecting yourself from ticks
- Hazard Alert: Routinely check your skin for ticks
- Book: Controlling Exposure — Protecting workers from infectious disease