VENOMOUS SNAKES

Venomous snakes found in the United States include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins, and coral snakes. A venomous bite is called an “envenomation.” Although death from venomous snake bites is rare, a worker with a severe envenomation or allergy to snake venom can die from a venomous bite. Each year, an estimated 7,000–8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States, and about 5 of those people die. The number of deaths would be much higher if people did not seek medical care.

Workers are far more likely to suffer long-term injuries from snake bites than to die from them. For those bitten by rattlesnakes, 10–44 percent will have lasting injuries. An example of a disability or permanent injury is the ability to use a finger or losing part or all of it.

Employers should train their workers about their risk of exposure to venomous snakes, how workers can prevent and protect themselves from snake bites, and what they should do if they are bitten.

Copperhead Snake

Copperhead: Photo courtesy of Sean P. Bush. Some venomous snakes can be difficult to see in the environment.

Page last reviewed: June 28, 2021