HAZARDS TO OUTDOOR WORKERS

Overview

Outdoor workers are exposed to many types of hazards that depend on their type of work, geographic region, season, and duration of time they are outside. Employers should train outdoor workers about their workplace hazards, including hazard identification and recommendations for preventing and controlling their exposures.

Physical Hazards

Physical hazards to outdoor workers may include extreme heat, extreme cold, noise, and sun exposure. Extreme heat can cause heat stroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat rash, and other problems. Extreme cold can cause hypothermia, frostbite, and other problems. Repeated exposures to loud noise can lead to permanent, incurable hearing loss or tinnitus.

unloading a truck in the winter

Information on cold-related illnesses and injuries, first aid, and prevention

Construction workers drinking water

Information on heat-related illnesses, first aid, and prevention.

watering the plants outdoors

Facts about sunburn and skin cancer, first aid, and prevention.

worker wearing hearing protection

Hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the U.S.

Biological Hazards

Biological hazards include vector-borne diseases, venomous wildlife and insects, and poisonous plants.  Venomous snakes, spiders, scorpions, and stinging insects can be found throughout various geographic regions, and are especially dangerous to workers who have allergies to the animal. Poisonous plants can cause allergic reactions if their oils come in contact with skin. These plants can also be dangerous if burned and their toxins are inhaled.

poison oak

Learn about plant identification, first aid, and prevention.

Black Widow spider

Information on the types of spiders, spider bites, first aid, and prevention.

Copperhead snake

Information on the types of snakes, snake bites, prevention, and first aid.

Bees

Preventing stings and bites from flying insects, fire ants, and scorpions.

Vector-borne Diseases

Vector-borne diseases may be spread to workers by insects, such as mosquitoes or ticks. When a mosquito or tick bites a worker, it may transfer a disease-causing agent, such as a parasite, bacterium, or virus.

This 2006 photograph depicted a female Aedes aegypti mosquito while she was in the process of acquiring a blood meal from her human host, who in this instance, was actually the biomedical photographer, James Gathany

Answers to frequently asked questions and recommendations for workers and employers.

Lone star tick

Answers to frequently asked questions and recommendations for workers and employers.

Western Blacklegged tick

Information on symptoms, diagnosis, and recommendations for workers and employers.

Outdoor workers may encounter other hazards in addition to the physical and biological hazards described here. They may be exposed to pesticides or other chemical hazards, traumatic injury hazards, or other safety and health hazards depending on their specific job and tasks.

Page last reviewed: July 30, 2015