The risk from bees, wasps and other stinging insects can be a year-round threat. Their activity often peaks in late summer, a prime time for getting stung while on the job or off the clock, doing yard work or having fun.
A well-known aggressive stinging insect is the yellowjacket, a yellow and black wasp resembling a bee, but with a narrower body and no fuzz. Because they often build their nests underground it can be easy to accidentally stumble over their homes, causing them to become agitated. These can be more aggressive than bees and may even sting without being provoked. It is usually a good idea to give yellowjackets plenty of space and try not to leave out food such as sweet liquids that might attract them.
Bees are a more docile stinging insect. These creatures can be identified by their substantial yellow and black bodies, which are covered in fine hairs. While foraging for nectar and pollen, bees are rarely aggressive and usually only sting when provoked. If you leave them alone, they will often return the favor. However, this does not mean that they are completely safe to be around. Bees can become aggressive in defense of their colonies, which may be found in enclosed areas such as crevices around buildings or inside walls or trees.
If you get stung, this first thing to do is to move away from the area calmly. Some insects release pheromones after stinging that can attract more stinging insects, creating a vicious feedback loop. If you are highly allergic to insect stings and bites, it may be necessary to go to a hospital for treatment. However, most people will be able to treat a sting from a bee or wasp at home.
First, it is important to determine whether the stinger is left behind. A honeybee stinger is highly barbed and must be removed from the wound before additional treatment steps can be taken. This can be done by scraping a hard, flat object such as a fingernail or credit card across the sting. In contrast, the stingers of bumblebees and wasps are smoother and these insects are capable of repeated stings without leaving the stinger behind. Once a stinger is no longer evident in the wound, the procedure for treating these stings is the same. Wash the area with plenty of soap and water, then put ice on the site of the wound to reduce swelling. An antihistamine can also be taken to reduce swelling further and help alleviate itching that can accompany insect bites and stings.
If you are allergic to insect stings, it is a good idea to let your co-workers know, especially if you work outdoors and if you carry an epi-pen for this type of emergency. This can help them help you if you do get stung.
The Report a Safety Concern form provides users a quick and easy way to submit non-emergency safety concerns on campus. With three required questions: what the safety concern/issue is, location and date observed; it only takes a moment to complete the mobile-friendly form. You also have the option to include a picture of the hazard if applicable. The form may be submitted anonymously if desired, keeping in mind it may be harder to resolve the situation if further information is required.
Submitted forms are directed to the appropriate department/unit for review and consideration.
Thank you for taking the time to report a safety issue or concern right away. For questions, please contact EHS at 208-885-6524 or email@example.com.
Most Vandals are familiar with the campus walkway/pedestrian mall that extends throughout much of the center of campus. It is important to keep in mind that this well-marked series of streets is a multi-use area. That means that while vehicles are restricted, those with valid walkway access permits do share the streets in the campus core. All vehicles (motorized vehicles, skateboards, bicycles, etc.) using the campus walkway must travel no faster than walk speed, or about three (3) miles per hour. Managed parking for a variety of types of spaces, including disability, Vandal Reserved, service, delivery and other special use spaces, are clustered in the campus walkway. Walkway users should remain alert for intermittent motorized vehicles, including SMART Transit buses, that share this important multi-use space.
Colder weather and more layers of clothes can mean hats pulled down low on faces and scarves wrapped warmly around, and both can partly obscure vision. Pedestrians in darker colored clothing, shorter days, less sunshine and fogged or icy car windows can all increase the challenge of seeing pedestrians and giving them the right of way - and can make it harder for pedestrians to use their full peripheral vision to watch for moving traffic.
Wet or frozen streets and sidewalks increase the need for caution from all users. Allow extra time when walking, biking or driving. Remember that getting safely to the next warm place requires extra awareness from the whole Vandal community. Help #KeepCampusMoving by traveling cautiously on foot, by bike or in a motorized vehicle as temperatures drop and cold weather creates additional hazards. Visit our seasonal safety information for more tips on navigating campus in winter.
While the risk from wasps, including yellow jackets and hornets, can be a year-round threat, their activity is peaking now as the worker wasps are trying to find new food sources. With the queen moving from egg production and into hibernation, the workers lose a primary source of food, a special secretion that the wasp larvae produce, and are forced to find an alternative. Often this comes in the form of fruit, which may be rotting and fermenting. Fermenting fruit consumed by an insect that is already prone to stinging results in a "mean drunk" -- a critter no one likes to be around.
With that in mind, it is a good idea to give these wasps their space and don't do things that can increase their aggressiveness, like swatting at them. The control of nuisance insects is a task that falls to Facilities, who remind us that "at this time of year, when the evenings/nights get cool, the yellow jackets/wasps (cold-blooded animals) need to warm up during the day - they often hang around hot metal objects (sign posts, building signs, the metal base of aggregate street/sidewalk lights, etc.). They are also quite agitated late in the year and become aggressive. Their nests could be anywhere - across the street, across the parking lot, on the building's roof - anywhere. We do not spray signs/metal objects to keep the insects away. That's a waste of insecticide, an unnecessary toxin applied to the environment, and an ineffective control measure. Please endure a bit longer, the nuisance insects will die off soon." Nests that may directly impact human activity (e.g., close to a walkway or building entry) however, should be reported to Facilities.
If you do get stung, the first thing to do is to move away from the area calmly. Some insects release pheromones after stinging that can attract more stinging insects, creating a vicious feedback loop. If you are highly allergic to insect stings and bites, it may be necessary to go to a hospital for treatment. However, most people will be able to treat a sting at home.
Next, determine whether the stinger was left behind. If so, it must be removed from the wound before additional treatment steps can be taken. This can be done by scraping a hard, flat object such as a fingernail or credit card across the sting. The stingers of wasps are typically smooth, which means they are capable of repeated stings without leaving the stinger behind. Once a stinger is no longer evident in the wound, wash the area with plenty of soap and water, and then put ice on the site of the wound to reduce swelling. An antihistamine can also be taken to reduce swelling further and help alleviate itching that can accompany insect bites and stings.
If you are allergic to insect stings, it is a good idea to let your co-workers know about your allergy and if you carry an epi-pen for this type of emergency. This can help them assist you if you do get stung.
Spring is in the air! The snow is disappearing and bicycles are increasing in numbers again. But before you hop on and start to pedal, take a few moments to review how to safely travel by bicycle here in Idaho. Even if you don't ride a bike, motorists and pedestrians should also be aware of rules that pertain to cyclists to better predict their movements - some of these are listed below.
First, start with some routine maintenance for your bike and ensure you have the proper safety equipment. Check the chain, tighten loose bolts and check your tires for wear and proper inflation. Check the bicycle for reflectors, headlamp and other reflective gear, and invest in reflective clothing to increase your visibility on the road. Don't forget your head - all cyclists should have an approved, properly fitting helmet to wear every time they get on their bicycle. Your bicycle should also be a proper fit - think size, type and height.
Other tips to keep in mind: carry items in a backpack or properly strapped to the back of the bike and tie your shoes and tuck in loose pant legs so that they don't get caught in your bike chain. Think about where you are going and how you will get there. Consider routes with less traffic or slower speeds and routes that have bike lanes or paths.
Now think about the rules of the road. These rules are for your safety and the safety of the motorists on the road with you.
- Ride with the flow of traffic to the right side of the lane or within the bike lanes, when present.
- Use designated turn lanes or occupy the lane nearest the direction you plan to turn when there is no designated lane.
- Signal your turns; use proper hand signals for turning and stopping in a timely manner.
- Obey all traffic control devices (yielding at stop signs and stopping at red lights in accordance with state law and city ordinances).
- Always have at least one hand in control of the bike.
- Be predictable! Drive where you are expected to be seen and maintain a steady line of travel.
- Stay alert, scan ahead for potential hazards, such as car doors opening, potholes and pedestrians and use the center of the lane when there are safety concerns.
- Don't rely eye contact alone; use your best judgment with motorists.
- If riding on a sidewalk, watch for pedestrians and slow down; always yield to the pedestrians.
- Don't use headphones or cell phones when riding; they are a hazardous distraction.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 675 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2020. Many can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the established rules of the road, take some simple safety precautions and watch out for each other. Courtesy, respect and awareness can save lives.
"My bike is gone!"
Does that sound like something you have said? If you are a college student or live in a college town, it's very likely you use a bicycle to get around on the convenient pathways, trails and walkways where you live. Keeping in mind that the APM 35.35 prohibits bringing bikes into university buildings, what can you do to make it more difficult for a thief to take your property? Here are smart, affordable steps you can use to protect what is yours.
- Always lock up your bike, even at home.
- Make sure you lock it to a fixed object.
- Invest in two locking mechanisms, such as a U-bolt and chain lock, each greater than 6mm in thickness.
- When using a U-bolt or chain, use up as much of the space inside the bolt or chain as possible.
- Lock up your bike in a well-lit, high-traffic area.
- Don’t lock it up in the same location every time. Shake it up a bit!
- Register your bike through your local police department or a national registry.
The National Bike Registry website is convenient and makes it easy to register your bike. When you register your bike, you will be sent a tamper-resistant label to put on your bike and a certificate containing pertinent information. Registering allows local police to check if your bike has turned up anywhere else, and pawn shops will be able to easily report it as stolen property. In addition to the steps above, there is a lot of new technology available that is cost-effective, such as GPS trackers, Bluetooth-enabled chains with phone apps and more.
It is up to you, the owner, to take common-sense practical steps to protect what is yours. How much or how little you need is up to you!
Keep our campus healthy and prevent the spread of influenza and other viruses by practicing everyday preventive actions. Practices include:
- Washing hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not readily available, consider using a hand sanitizer in the meantime.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
- Staying home when sick. If possible, stay home from work, school and running errands if you have symptoms of the flu or another virus. Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue.
- Covering coughs or sneezes with the inside of your arm or a tissue and then throwing the tissue away.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you've just washed your hands.
Additionally, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the seasonal flu vaccine. If you missed the flu shot clinics at the university, there are still many other options either at the Vandal Health Clinic or in the community. These vaccines are covered by most insurance plans.
Snow and ice are here and while it might be nice to stay indoors where it is warm and dry and watch the snow fall, at some point we all need to get out during the winter months. Even a small amount of snow can be troublesome - employees have already been injured due to snow and ice this year. Whether going to work, class or the grocery store, there are several things you can do to make your winter walking safer.
- Walk like a penguin — keep your stride wide and short. Align your core to keep your center of gravity low and centered over your hips and feet.
- Wear appropriate footwear for the weather and conditions. Winter boots with traction are a good place to start and also help keep your feet warm and dry.
- Add additional traction by using devices that slip over your footwear, such as Yaktrax or Korkees. EHS and Risk Management have free devices for faculty and staff.
- Stay on cleared and maintained walkways. Around campus, walk on sidewalks that are heated by the steam tunnels. These paths stay clear through most weather conditions.
- Wipe your feet when entering buildings and remove traction devices. Those first few steps into the building may be slippery from tracked snow and water.
- Use handrails when going up and down stairs.
- Don't multi-task while walking — put the phone away and look where you are going.
- Help your fellow Vandals by scattering sand from the supplied buckets whenever needed, especially if you are the first to arrive in the morning or if weather changes during the day.
Please report any accidents and injuries through the Accident Report Form. If you notice a safety concern, please use the mobile-friendly Safety Concern Form to submit you concern. For icy conditions that cannot be addressed with some sand from a sand bucket, contact Facilities at 208-885-6246.
Off Highway Vehicles (OHVs), also known as Specialty OHVs (SOHVs), are increasingly used for work and play because of the growing availability and versatility of these vehicles. SOHVs include golf carts, utility vehicles, 4-wheelers, ATVs, carts, gators, mules and other low speed vehicles, and the widespread use has increased the number of accidents and fatalities caused by misuse. According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, there are more than 100,000 injuries and 700 deaths annually involving ATVs.
While the university is currently working on a policy specific to operating SOHVs, state/federal laws and UI/Departmental vehicle use agreements still apply. When driving these vehicles on campus, additional rules apply such as operating at pedestrian speeds and following the vehicle use policy. Be aware of your surroundings when you park your SOHV as well; these vehicles can become quite hot underneath and ignite dry grasses below them. Yes, this actually has happened on campus! Some additional safety tips are below.
- Get hands on training: Many deaths and injuries occur when an inexperienced driver loses control of an ATV, is thrown from an ATV, overturns the vehicle or collides with a fixed object or a motor vehicle. Hands-on training can give experienced and first-time riders the skills to handle multiple riding situations that can happen in off-road conditions. Check in your area for classes in safe operation of your ATV or motorbike. If purchasing a new toy, ask the dealer for recommendations and be sure to get a thorough orientation to your equipment before taking it out to play. Rental facilities should also provide orientation to the machine before use.
- Don't overload the vehicle: Allowing more people or gear on the vehicle than it was designed to carry can shift the balance causing it to overturn, affect braking and impede the driver's ability to control the vehicle.
- Ensure age appropriateness: The vehicle should be designed for the age, size and weight of the operator. Many injuries and fatalities occur when a vehicle is operated by a person who does not have the motor skills for safe operation. Never permit youngsters to ride dirt bikes or ATVs that are too tall or too powerful for their capabilities.
- Always wear helmets and other protective gear: CPSC and the ATV Safety Institute recommend U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and/or the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell) certified helmets. Riders should also wear goggles, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and over-the-ankle boots.
As when using any motorized vehicle, separate your driving from use of alcohol or recreational drugs. More information and tips are available through OSHA's website on ATV hazards.
As anyone that has tried to cross campus when classes are changing knows, there are a lot of people walking on and around campus, interacting with vehicles, skateboarders, cyclists and others. As a pedestrian, there are a number of steps you can take to keep yourself safe.
Make sure you are visible to drivers at all times and make eye contact with them whenever possible. This is especially important at night, in low-light conditions such as dusk or dawn or in inclement weather. According to NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 32 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.
- Wear light colored or reflective clothing at night and brightly colored clothing during the day.
- Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street.
- If possible, make eye contact with drivers in stopped vehicles to ensure they see you before you cross in front of them.
- Use marked crosswalks and stay in the markings when crossing. Darting out into traffic or crossing diagonally across a crosswalk or street is dangerous, as vehicle operators are not expecting this.
Consider the Weather
- In fall and spring, be on the lookout for wet conditions and leaf debris that can cause slippery walking conditions.
- When roads are covered with snow or ice, never assume a driver will be able to stop in time to grant you the right of way.
- Wear traction devices for snowy walkways; while snow and ice mitigation on campus walks is a priority, freezing weather can occur quickly and sporadically in colder spots, like on the north side of buildings. Pay attention when walking on sloped walkways, stairs or shaded walkways.
Stay Alert - Avoid Distractions
Distractions are everywhere today and becoming more and more difficult to avoid. Remember that, as a pedestrian, your eyes and ears are your best tools for keeping safe. Put your cell phone or tablet away and pay attention to your surroundings. Ear buds and headphones greatly decrease your ability to hear warning signals or approaching vehicles or equipment. Leave them off.
Follow the Rules
- Think like a driver; know and follow all traffic rules, signs and signals. You need to be aware of the rules vehicles around you must follow to properly anticipate what drivers will do. This will help increase your safety.
- Never assume a driver will give you the right of way. Make every effort to make eye contact with the driver of a stopped or approaching vehicle before entering the roadway.
Walk in Safe Places
- Use crosswalks when crossing the street. If a crosswalk is unavailable, be sure to find the most well-lit spot on the road to cross and wait for a long enough gap in traffic to make it safely across the street.
- If there are two or more lanes of traffic flowing the same direction through a crosswalk, make sure that all vehicles are stopping for you. You may be hidden by a courteous driver's vehicle in the closer lane, and the second lane of traffic may not stop if you are not visible to them.
- Stay on sidewalks whenever possible. If a sidewalk is not available, be sure to walk on the far side of the road facing traffic. This will help increase your visibility to drivers.
- Avoid walking along highways or other roadways where pedestrians are prohibited.
Avoid Alcohol Consumption
Almost half of all traffic crashes resulting in pedestrian casualties involve alcohol consumption. Surprisingly, 34 percent of that total was on the part of the pedestrian. Alcohol impairs your decision-making skills, physical reflexes and other abilities just as much on your feet as it does behind the wheel.
Winter driving calls for special skills and a bit of preparation. Here are some tips that may keep you warm and safe this winter as you travel for work and pleasure.
- Before you travel, make a travel plan for the entire trip. Schedule stops every 2-3 hours, and leave a travel itinerary with someone from your departing location and with someone at your arrival location. Google Maps is a great way of making a trip plan.
- If your route does take you through inclement weather, plan accordingly by extending your travel by a few hours or even an extra day to accommodate.
- Maintain communication with people from your departing location and your arriving location. If plans change, keep them informed.
- Keep your vehicle in the best possible driving condition. This includes good winter weather tires that are properly inflated.
- Check the condition and fit of your chains. If you have never put chains on, practice once before the snow falls. Use your floor mat to stay dry while kneeling on the ground.
- Make sure your coolant and wiper fluid are rated for sub-freezing temperatures.
- Clean your headlights, brake lights, and turn indicators.
- Don't start driving until the windows are clear and you have good visibility.
- Do not use cruise control on wet, snow-covered, or icy roads.
- Maintain smooth and gentle input on the controls when braking, accelerating, and turning.
- Keep your vehicle fueled, and your phone charged.
- Buckle up! All occupants should be properly secured, including pets and children.
- After you arrive at your destination, call back to your departing location and let those who know you're traveling know that you have arrived safely.
It is a good idea to keep a winter emergency kit in the vehicle. This should include extra gloves, socks, a hat, flashlight and batteries, a blanket, bottled water, non-perishable food items, a pocketknife, first aid kit and a brightly colored scarf to attract attention in case of emergency. You might also keep jumper cables, emergency flares, a small shovel and a small sack of sand or kitty litter for traction if you get stuck.
If something happens and you are stranded or stuck, stay with your vehicle. If you run your car for heat, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow. Most deaths occur when people leave their vehicle, get lost and freeze.
Most important, check the road and weather reports before your trip. If conditions warrant, delay or cancel your trip until travel conditions improve. Current road conditions nationwide can be found at: fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/.
Working in the heat stresses the body and can lead to illness and even death. Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of other injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged glasses, dizziness and burns from hot surfaces. Every year thousands of workers become sick from heat exposure and many workers die. Most heat-related health problems are preventable, or the risk of developing them can be reduced.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed a Heat Safety smartphone app in both English and Spanish. The app provides reminders about protective measures that should be taken at the indicated risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness; for example, reminders about drinking enough water, recognizing signs and symptoms of heat-related illness and planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency.
If you or a coworker are experiencing symptoms of a heat-related illness, move to a cool, shaded or air-conditioned area; drink water if conscious; apply cold compresses and use caution when standing.
Symptoms to watch for:
- Headache, dizziness or fainting
- Profuse sweating
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Shallow breathing
- Pale, cool, clammy skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
Call 911 and cool the victim by any means when symptoms include:
- Absence of sweating
- Pulsating headache
- Hot, red, dry skin
- High body temperature (above 103F)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Strong, rapid pulse
- Loss of consciousness
Risk factors for developing a heat-related illness are a combination of weather/working conditions and personal factors/physical demands. The risk of heat stress is relative to temperature, humidity, sunlight and wind speed. High temperature and humidity, direct sunlight and low wind speed make the worst combination. Working indoors in areas where heat is generated and/or is not easily dissipated can also increase risk. Personal factors and physical demands contribute to a person's risk: a physically demanding job increases body temperature; working such a job in an environment that is hot with high humidity greatly increases risk. Older workers, obese workers and persons taking certain types of medication, such as antihistamines, have a greater risk as well.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk:
- Scheduling. Whenever possible, schedule heavy work during cooler times of day.
- Acclimation. Gradually increasing exposure time and work load will increase heat tolerance. New employees and workers returning from an absence of a week or more should take care to re-acclimate to the conditions.
- Appropriate Clothing. Wear light, loose, breathable clothing and a hat that doesn't interfere with your work safety. In some cases, personal cooling devices (such as water circulating cooling vests) may be advisable.
- Hydration. Pre-hydrate the body by drinking 8 - 16 ounces of water before working in the heat. Keep water or an electrolyte drink within easy reach and consume about 8 ounces of fluid every 15 - 20 minutes, not just during rest breaks. Avoid alcohol, coffee, tea or soda, which act as diuretics and further dehydrate the body. Monitor your urine output - small volumes and/or dark urine may be indicators of dehydration.
- Adequate Rest Periods. Avoid overexertion and work at a steady pace. Heed the body's signals. Take plenty of breaks in shaded or cooler areas.
- Job Rotation. When possible, rotate difficult work tasks in hot conditions between two or more employees.
Remember, heat-induced illnesses should not be taken lightly. Keep an eye on yourself and co-workers for any symptoms that might indicate heat stress and take action if they appear. For more information, contact Environmental Health and Safety at 208-885-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org.