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Copperhead Snakes Can Be a Threat on Outdoor Job Sites

For certain workers, there can be a very real opportunity to encounter venomous snakes. Any of the following work could expose individuals to the dangers of snakes while on the job.

  • Forestry
  • Landscaping
  • Tree Trimming
  • Grounds Keep
  • Site Clearing
  • General Housekeeping
  • Road Construction
  • Response to Natural Disasters
Copperhead Snake
Copperhead Snake
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.

Copperhead snakes vary in color from reddish to golden tan with hourglass-shaped bands on their body. Adult copperheads are usually 18-36 inches long. Copperheads are often found in wooded area, forests, among rocks, or near sources of water like swamps, rivers, streams or ponds. Copperhead snakes are not usually aggressive and will often freeze in place and remain motionless until the threat passes.

Workers are more likely to be bitten when they unknowingly step on or very close to a copperhead. Copperheads can be found in Eastern states as far west as Texas.

When covering the dangers of snake encounters during your safety meeting, make sure to emphasize these important points:

  • Watch where you place your hands and feet when removing debris and taking care of housekeeping outside. Consider wearing heavy gloves, especially when working outdoors and dealing with brush, leaves, or piles of lumber. Consider wearing boots at least 10 inches high especially if working near water areas where snakes may be present.
  • Remember, snakes often bite only when threatened. If you see a snake, step back and allow it to proceed.
  • If bitten, call 911 immediately! Pay attention to the color of the snake and the shape of the snake's head to help with treatment. Have someone take a photo, if possible.
  • Keep bite victims calm and reduce movement to slow the possible spread of venom. Lay the victim down so the bite is below the level of the heart. Cover the bite wound with a clean, dry dressing. NEVER cut the wound or attempt to suck out the venom.

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