Are tick bites covered by workers’ compensation?

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For those who work outside, tick bites are a constant concern. Luckily, workers' compensation insurance will often pay employees' medical costs if they become ill from a tick bite.
A group of construction workers walk down a forest path.

For some construction professionals, the ability to work outdoors is one of the industry's perks. No cramped quarters or fluorescent lights flickering overhead – just the big, open sky to keep you company while you work.

While the great outdoors has its charms, it also has its hazards. Too much sun and you could get heatstroke. A sudden storm could delay progress. And then there's that part of nature that you don't really think about until you're up against it: wildlife.

From bees and snakes to spiders and ticks, contractors face a gamut of potential foes when working outside or in undeveloped areas. And these pests are more than just nuisances – in some cases, they can be downright toxic.

Consider, for example, one bloodsucker no one hopes to encounter: the tick. Warm weather brings these insects out in hordes, and they are especially common in heavily wooded areas or in tall grass. According to the CDC, they can cause:

  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Tularemia
  • Heartland virus
  • Relapsing fever

Tick bites can cause a world of trouble for you and your employees. Fortunately, workers' compensation insurance can cover these complications if your employees are bitten at work.

Bug bites? Take cover(age)!

Let's get one thing straight: how workers' comp applies to animal or insect bites all depends on the context. In order for coverage to kick in, these bites should be a foreseeable risk given the type of work someone does.

For example, it seems more than a little far-fetched that office workers should expect that they might suffer mouse bites during the course of their work. There shouldn't be infestations in an office setting, so it may be difficult to seek coverage for that kind of injury, even if it happened on the job.

But other occupations, such as construction and contracting, are more prone to injuries from insects and animals because employees tend to work outside. Therefore, you can reasonably expect these injuries to happen at some point, and workers' compensation insurance can typically cover the cost of the injury, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Disability benefits
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Replacement wages

Read more about how workers' compensation insurance works.

How to keep bites at bay

If tick bites are cause for workers' comp claims, do you need to brace yourself for an onslaught of claims during the summer months? Perhaps, if you're not careful.

You can manage bug bite risks by training your employees and being prepared. For example:

Inform your employees about the health hazards pests can cause. Your employees should understand the risk of tick bites and how to disinfect them to prevent disease.

Train employees on how to dress to limit exposure to pests. Socks and full-length pants may deter ticks from latching on to ankles and calves.

Ask employees to inform you about potential allergies. If an employee is allergic to wasps, for example, you should know about it so you can limit the employee's exposure when possible.

Keep first-aid supplies on hand. Make sure your kit includes an EpiPen in case employees are stung or bitten and have an allergic reaction.

Your planning may result in fewer claims and keep your workers' comp premium affordable. Plus a safer workplace makes for happier employees. After all, no one likes getting bit when they're just trying to do their job.

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