Venomous Snake Bite Safety Toolbox Talk

November 26, 2022
By N. Nicholas, ASP

Venomous snakes in the workplace are a potential safety hazard, they are common in some workplaces more than others.

There are many ways to reduce the risk of being bitten by a venomous snake, including knowing how to identify them and avoiding areas where they are known to live.

Most bites from venomous snakes occur when people try to handle them or kill them, so it is important to leave snakes alone when observed.

Venomous snake species found in the United States include rattlesnakes, coral snakes, cottonmouths (or water moccasins), and copperheads and others.

Snake Bite Safety Toolbox Talk In The Workplace

These snakes are more common in the southern states. The exception is rattlesnakes, which are widespread across the U.S. Each year, somewhere between 7,000 – 8,000 people in the U.S. are bitten by venomous snakes, leading to about 5 deaths.

Preventing Snake Bites

Employees working in places where they may encounter snakes must know

  • Their risk of exposure to venomous snakes
  • Which species they may encounter
  • How to prevent snake bites
  • What actions to take if they are bitten

When working in places where you may encounter snakes

  • Wear heavy gloves and boots. in some cases snake boots may be necessary.
  • Be cautious of where you place your hands and feet, especially in long grass, woodpiles, rocky areas, and near piles of leaves or debris. Snakes may also be encountered in the water.
  • Always look be observant of your surroundings.

What to do if you encounter a snake

Venomous snakes should only be handled by trained professionals, and even then there is always some risk involved. When you come across a venomous snake in the workplace, first and foremost, do not attempt to catch or kill the snake yourself; leave that to professionals.

  • Do not try to handle it.
  • If possible, get a good look at the snake so that you can provide authorities with an accurate description later on.
  • Stay calm and avoid panicking – this will only make things worse for everyone involved.
  • Slowly back away.
  • If a snake is found indoors, call the local animal control agency.
  • If someone is bitten by a venomous snake, call for help immediately and do all you can to keep the victim calm until medical assistance arrives.

Snake Bite Symptoms

  • A pair of puncture wounds at the bite location
  • Severe swelling, redness, and pain at the bite location
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness or tingling around the face, arms, or legs
  • Blurry or abnormal vision
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Sweating and increased salivation

First Aid for Snake Bites

If you are bitten by a venomous snake, it is important to seek medical help immediately and keep the wound clean and dry until you can get professional treatment.

  • Call 911 and seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
  • Inform a supervisor of the snake bite.
  • Keep the victim calm. Have them rest to slow the progression of venom through the body.
  • If possible, take note of what the snake looked like to aid in identification and treatment.

If you cant get to the hospital right away

  • Wash the bite with soap and water and cover with a clean dressing.
  • Have the victim lay or sit down.
  • Keep the bite wound below the level of the heart.

Do Not

  • Try to capture or kill the snake responsible for the bite.
  • Wait for symptoms to appear before seeking medical attention.
  • Apply a tourniquet.
  • Cut the bite area with a knife.
  • Try to suck out the venom by mouth.
  • Apply ice to the bite area or immerse in water.
  • Give the victim caffeine, any other stimulants, or alcohol.

Venomous snakes in the workplace can be safely managed with proper precautions and knowledge of what to do if a bite occurs.

They’re not typically aggressive and will usually only attack if they feel threatened, so taking reasonable precautions can help to reduce the risks of being bitten.

If you are bitten by a snake, it is important to seek medical attention immediately and follow the instructions of your healthcare provider.

By taking proper precautions and being aware of the dangers posed by venomous snakes, you can minimize the risk of being bitten or injured in the workplace

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