VENOMOUS SNAKES

Venomous snakes found in the United States include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins, and coral snakes. They can be dangerous to outdoor workers including farmers, foresters, landscapers, groundskeepers, gardeners, painters, roofers, pavers, construction workers, laborers, mechanics, and any other workers who spend time outside. A venomous bite is called an “envenomation.” Although rare, some workers with a severe envenomation or allergy to snake venom may be at risk of death if bitten. It has been estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous bites 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. Disability and permanent injury (such as the loss of part or all of a finger or the function of it) are much more common, reported to be between 10 and 44 percent in patients with rattlesnake bites. It is important for employers to train their workers about their risk of exposure to venomous snakes, how they 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: May 31, 2018