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How to Recognize the Poisonous Brown Recluse Spider

In the warehouse, on the jobsite, in the field or in your house... these spiders can inflict some damage. If brown recluse spiders are present in your area of the country, please raise awareness with employees at least once a year during a safety meeting.

Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluse Spider

Often overlooked, injuries and deaths due to bees, spiders, and other insects are a concern that companies should manage as seriously as any other hazard in the workplace. Fatal on-the-job injuries do occur as a result of bites and stings from insects and spiders.

If employees are working outdoors or in any area where ants, insects, bees, wasps, ticks or spiders could be present, it would be a good idea to have an annual safety meeting on insects, bees & spiders. Topics should include how to recognize and avoid potential areas where insects may be lurking, what clothing is best to wear in the working environment, reminders to keep work areas clean and basic first aid tips if any employee is bitten or stung.

Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluse Spider - Photo by Jared Belson
OSHA Standard 1926.21(b)(4) says that in job site areas where harmful plants or animals are present, employees who may be exposed shall be instructed regarding the potential hazards, and how to avoid injury, and the first aid procedures to be used in the event of injury.

Employers and workers don't give poisonous spiders much thought because encounters don't happen that often, even when working outdoors. But because of the amount of damage one tiny bite can inflict, if brown recluse spiders are present in your area of the country, please raise awareness with employees at least once a year during a safety meeting, emphasizing these important points.

  • Inspect your work area before starting for signs of spiders or spider webs.
  • Wear light-colored, smooth-finished clothing to cover as much of the body as possible.
  • Make it a habit to keep work areas clean.
  • Brown recluse spiders have a dark brown, violin-shaped mark on their upper body and are also known as violin spiders or fiddle backs.
  • Fun fact! Brown recluse spiders have 3 pairs of eyes, instead of the usual 4 pairs of eyes that other spiders have.
  • The bite of a brown recluse spider is poisonous. Tissue at the area of the bite dies and eventually sheds. The bite area has the potential to become severely infected.
  • If you are bitten by a brown recluse spider (or even think you might have been bitten...) clean the bite area with soap and water, apply ice to the bite area to slow absorption of the venom, and seek medical attention immediately!
  • If any insect bite causes severe chest pain, nausea, severe sweating, loss of breath, serious swelling, or slurred speech, seek immediate medical attention.
Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluse Spider

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