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Reminders About Coral Snake Dangers for Outdoor Workers

Site Safety

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
Coral Snake on Mulch
Coral 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.

Coral snakes have a distinct color pattern where red bands touch yellow bands.

A common phrase to remember how to recognize a venomous coral snake is Red touches yellow, kill a fellow. Red touches black, friend of Jack.

Workers may find coral snakes hiding in leaf piles or burrows in the ground.

Coral snakes will almost always attempt to flee from a threat and bite only as a last resort. Coral snakes can be found in wooded, sandy, or marshy areas of the Southern United States.

Though death from this snake is rare (since the antivenin was created), a bite from a coral snake can be fatal if left untreated. Most people with coral snake bites do not show symptoms until 12 hours after they are bitten.

Coral Snake
Coral Snake

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.
Coral Snake on Dead Leaves
Coral Snake

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