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Risks Working Outdoors

Awareness and Prevention is key to outdoor workers safety and health!

Many people throughout the United States both play and work in the outdoors through many of the federal, state, county and city natural resource management agencies, recreation and tourism industries, utility companies, ranching, farming, and outdoor education. Outdoor workers are at greater risk of tick-borne diseases as they spend more time in potential tick habitats where encounters with ticks are more likely. Occupations that deal directly with wildlife are also at an increased risk. Some diseases can be transmitted through blood, saliva, abscesses or scratches from the animals they are handling. Work sites with woods, bushes, high grass,  leaf litter or areas between land and a river or stream have more ticks.

In most regions of the United States, those that work or play in the outdoors should take extra precautions to protect themselves in the spring, summer, and fall when hard-bodied ticks are most active. Recent studies have found that some ticks survive in temperatures below freezing. Though keep in mind ticks may be all year in regions with warmer weather.   People may be exposed to ticks while sleeping in infested, or previously rodent infested camps, vacation rentals or hunting cabins. Species distribution, abundance and incidence of infection with ticks varies nationwide. Outdoor workers that travel outside of their state of residence on assignments, such as military personnel and their families, wildland firefighters and other disaster relief workers, should be aware of the variable risks and exposure when working in different regions of the country and worldwide.   Downloading the free TickTracker application which informs workers what ticks, prevalence, hot spots and infection rates in the area you are working when on assignment adds awareness. 

All outdoor workers should check with their supervisor or employer if they have questions about possible exposure to ticks. Some employers provide tick safety information through Health and Safety manuals, tailgate safety sessions, or other internal policies. Employers wishing to provide their staff with tick awareness and safety training with a Limiting Lyme interactive presentation or to develop prevention policies should contact Limiting Lyme. Wearing protective clothing, and taking other precautions can help reduce your exposure while working outdoors.

Workers at risk of tick-borne diseases include;

  • United States Military Personnel

  • Natural Resource Agencies: City, County, State, and Federal

  • City and County Parks and Recreation

  • Wildlife management

  • Forestry

  • Wildland and Structural Firefighting

  • Outdoor Education

  • Outfitting and Guiding (fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and other recreation)

  • Camp Counseling and their kids (Summer camps, Boy Scouts)

  • Construction work

  • Trail building

  • Department of Public works 

  • Dog walkers (pet services)

  • Landscaping

  • Land surveying

  • Ranchers

  • Farmers

  • Pest Control

  • Railroad work

  • Oil field work

  • Utility work

Wearing Permethrin treated clothing, boots and gear; wearing insect repellent; and conducting daily tick checks can reduce exposures to tick bites while working in the outdoors! Awareness and Prevention is key to outdoor workers safety and health! 

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