Common Animal and Insect Hazards in Construction Work

 Photo by  jans canon ,  CC BY-2.0 . Original photo was cropped.

Photo by jans canonCC BY-2.0. Original photo was cropped.

The following is a guest post written by Laurence Banville, Esq.

Laurence Banville. Esq is the managing partner and face of Banville Law. Laurence is licensed to practice law in the state of New York. Originally from Ireland, Banville moved to the United States of America where he worked at law firms, refining his litigation and brief writing crafts. He is also the recipient of the Irish Legal 100 and the Top 40 Under 40 awards.

In December of 2017, two construction workers were doing the work they had been instructed to do on a garage. They were intensely focused on the project and hadn’t paid much attention to their surroundings until one noticed a movement out of the corner of his eye. When he turned to look, he saw a huge black bear approaching his coworker. 

The bear attacked, biting one of the workers on his arm. Both men reacted by screaming and hitting the bear, which let go and took off. The men then got into their van and called 911 for help. When paramedics and police arrived, they informed the men that the bear had already attacked another man earlier in the morning. Luckily, all of the bear’s victims survived and the dangerous animal was tracked and put down. 

Although this incident might seem out of the ordinary, the reality is that construction workers, who already face hundreds of hazards just by working in the industry, are also often at risk for becoming injured or ill due to contact with wildlife. 

Dangerous Animals Come In All Sizes

Construction workers most commonly come into contact with:

  • Bears
  • Groundhogs
  • Racoons
  • Opossums 
  • Birds
  • Deer
  • Feral Cats
  • Rodents
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Ticks
  • Mosquitos
  • Spiders
  • Snakes

While many of these encounters are harmless, any animal, even those that typically seem gentle like deer, can become dangerous if they are frightened, feel that they need to protect their young, are in the middle of their mating season, or if they are injured or ill. That being said, some of these creatures, such as ticks and mosquitos, bite because that is their very nature. However the encounter happens, the results can be serious or even deadly for the victim. 

Injuries & Illnesses Caused By Animal Attacks

Injured workers are often hospitalized due to: 

Bite Wounds

Many animals are naturally equipped with a powerful bite and sharp teeth which are literally designed to tear flesh and break bones. A bite is not only painful, it can also result in fractured bones, torn tendons, damaged nerves, and permanent disfigurement. 

Infections

Even if a bite wound is treated immediately, the reality is that animals mouths harbor hundreds of forms of bacteria which is transferred into the wound when they bite. It may take several antibiotics, hospitalization, and even surgical excision to remove an infection. 

Cat Scratch Fever

Some cats carry a bacteria called Bartonella henselae which is transferred when that cat scratches or bites a human. Symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, fatigue, and listlessness and these symptoms can last for months. The most severe cases can lead to bacillary angiomatosis which is the growth of tumor-like blood vessel clusters and Parinaud’s oculoglandular syndrome which is an eye condition similar to conjunctivitis. 

Lyme Disease

Carried by ticks, most people are aware of the existence of Lyme disease but don’t know how serious it can be. While many people are bit and never show symptoms, others are plagued with joint pain and swelling, fever, and headaches. In the worst cases, patients end up with damage to the heart, liver, and nervous system. Lyme can impact a patient for the rest of their lives. 

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

This disease is also spread by ticks and symptoms include rash, fever, muscle pain, and confusion. If the disease progresses, it can damage the heart, kidneys and lungs, resulting in organ failure. Around 3% of all patients diagnosed with this disease die from the complications. 

Rabies

Most of the public is aware that rabies, which is spread through an animal bite, is deadly. Thankfully, there is a vaccine, however, if a patient begins to show symptoms, the disease has already progressed too far and there is no hope. This is why it’s very important to seek medical care immediately after an animal bite. 

Envenomation

Venomous snakes and insects can inject venom which can be deadly or do significant damage to the tissue surrounding the bite. 

These are just a few examples of the risks faced by construction workers who come into contact with wildlife on a regular basis. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter what state you live in - dangerous animals live everywhere. The best way to stay safe if to educate yourself on the wildlife in your area.