No matter whether our work activities take us outdoors or indoors, we can be at risk from being stung by flying insects like bees, wasps, hornets. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH publication 2010-117), stings from these flying insects may result in severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical care and may even cause death.
If you or another worker believe you’ve been stung by a flying insect, NIOSH suggests following these steps:
- Do not leave the injured person alone because there may be an allergic reaction to the sting and the injured person will then need your help.
- Wash the affected areas with soap and water.
- If you see or suspect the insect has left a stinger embedded in the skin, speed is of the utmost importance. You want to work fast, but you don’t want to make the injury worse. The stinger may be barbed, (unlike a wasp’s which is straight and doesn’t come off the wasp). The barb is part of what makes a bee sting painful and why removing the stinger takes a little effort.
- To attempt to remove the stinger, use a gauze-like material to wipe over the area or gently pull skin flat, the skin folds stretched between your thumb and forefinger. This better exposes the stinger.
- Then, gently use a flat object, like a credit card, to scrape the stinger out. Note that different experts and studies advise against using tweezers or squeezing the skin to help pull the stinger out, because it might cause the release of more venom.
- Apply a cold pack to the affected site to reduce swelling and pain. Wrap the cold pack in a clean towel or cloth and then take it off for 10 minutes. Repeat this pattern until the pain subsides.
- Do not scratch the affected site as this may increase swelling, itching, and the risk of infection.
- If swelling or other symptoms develop elsewhere on the body, such as the face, call 911. This is a warning that it could be the beginning of an allergic reaction.
Remember Some Individuals Are Allergic:
Individuals who know they are allergic to stinging insects should talk with their doctor about how to respond to stings. Family members and friends should also have this information.
If you’re stung and you are allergic to stings, or a sting victim close to you is, use an epinephrine auto- injector, such as an EpiPen, to reverse the symptoms. Then call 911 or your local emergency services number.
If there’s no EpiPen available, call 911 immediately.
BEE SAFETY SMART…IT’S THE WAY TO BE!
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