Toolbox Talk: Ticks

By Published On: September 26, 2022

Ticks

Ticks live in grassy, brush, or wooded areas, which is where many construction tasks take place. As most construction workers are the “outdoor” type, they can also be encountered in your spare time (walking the dog, hunting, hiking, working around the yard, etc).

There are 9 different types of Ticks in North America, found in all areas of the continental US. Ticks are very small bugs that carry infectious diseases that can be very serious when left untreated.  

Facts About Ticks

  1. Ticks Crawl Up – they don’t jump, fly, or drop from trees. They latch onto your foot or leg and crawl up. They naturally seek warm spaces like armpits, behind the knee, clothing waistbands, inside the belly button, and around the head/neck.
  2. Ticks are Small – from larvae being the size of a grain of sand, to “large” being the size of an apple seed.
  3. They can Survive Cold – while a late spring frost will kill off larvae, adult ticks can survive the winter and become active during an early thaw or warmer winter. If there is no snow on the ground, they can be active.
  4. Ticks Carry Microbes – Ticks feed on your blood, they carry diseases/microbes such as: Lyme, Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, Bartonella bacteria.
  5. Deer Ticks Transmit Lyme – All ticks carry disease, but only “Black Legged” ticks (aka Deer Ticks) carry lyme disease.
  6. 24 Hours – You typically have 24 hours to find a feeding tick before an infection occurs. The way a tick feeds, the germ passing from your blood to the ticks saliva and back into your blood requires a sort of “re-activation” sequence that takes around 24 hours. 
  7. Deer Tick Tracks – As a Tick burrows and feeds in the skin, it leaves behind a “nymph” which looks like a poppy seed under your skin. 

How to Remove a Tick

Pointy Tweezers – The best way to remove a tick is by using pointed tweezers and grabbing the tick by the head, as close to your skin as possible. It will be difficult to pull them off the skin. Even if the head stays attached to your skin, that is ok, as long as the majority of the body is removed. Think of the body as a balloon filled with germs, if you squeeze the balloon all of the germs will inject into your skin. 

Old tricks about a hot match, dish soap, Vaseline, etc. might work but are not as consistently effective as tweezers.

Prevention

Repellent – Wear pants and long sleeved clothing, and treat the clothing with Tick repellent spray.

Check Yourself Daily – When you’ve been out in the woods or a field of tall grass, check yourself within 24 hours. Also check your pets and kids

Pets – Treat your pets with flea and tick medication. For their safety and to reduce the chance they carry ticks into your home.

 

Summary

Not all toolbox talks are about fall protection and electrical shocks. Natural hazards like Ticks and blood-borne diseases are common at work, home, and play. Wear proper clothing, use bug repellent with DEET, and inspect your body within 24 hours of being out in the brush. 

Training Categories:

Blood-borne Pathogens – 1910.1030

General Industry – Health Hazards and Prevention

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