Workplace injuries in the pest management industry can occur on any job, making workplace safety a top concern for both employees and managers.
PestSure compared worker injury claims of its insureds between 2021 and 2020 and discovered that animal bites; cuts, punctures and scars; lifting and slips/falls from a different level all increased.
- Bitten by animal – 13 percent (2021) vs. 11 percent (2020) +2 percent
- Cuts, punctures, scrapes – 11 percent (2021) vs. 9 percent (2020) +2 percent
- Lifting – 8 percent (2021) vs. 7 percent (2020) +1 percent
- Falls/slips from a different level – 7 percent (2021) vs. 6 percent (2020) +1 percent
Linda Midyett, vice president and loss control director for the Dallas, Texas-based insurance firm, attributes the increases to several factors, including inconsistent training and technicians becoming complacent with safety procedures, as well as the lack of familiarity with new accounts.
“Animal bites are preventable with consistent training and good communication,” Midyett said. “Slips and falls are common, but increase when technicians get lax about their surroundings or are not familiar with the account.”
Midyett encouraged technicians to take a few minutes to walk around the property before starting service to perform a safety assessment.
“Whether it is a new account or a home or business you serviced for years, take the time to look for hazards that may have been introduced since the previous visit,” says Midyett.
Here are some of the red flags technicians should look for when doing a safety assessment:
- Barking dogs, “beware of dog” signs and unsecured fenced in backyards should raise a red flag with technicians. Midyett recalled an example of a dog’s unpredictability when a dog that appeared friendly approached a technician as he exited his vehicle, but bit the technician a 20 minutes later.
- Before conducting perimeter or lawn care treatments, take a 3D view of the property. Look for air-conditioning units sticking out of windows, low-hanging branches, rocks hidden under shrubs or brush, unrolled garden hoses, and depressions in lawns that can lead to head injuries or slips and falls.
- Slick surfaces can form on stone patios, paths and decks and stairs following a rain shower. If the technician is not wearing the right shoes – ones with gripping soles – the chances increase for a slip-and-fall incident.
- Overfilling backpack sprayers and trying to lift them out of a truck bed; pulling sprayer hoses across a lawn; and lifting ladders on or off a truck can all lead to injury
- Taking a shortcut across a lawn or icy parking lot vs. walking on the sidewalk can lead to an unexpected slip-and-fall incident if you come across a ground depression or hidden object. Choose the safest path rather than the quickest.