With the exception of occasional killer bee or hornet swarms, insects almost never inflict fatal injuries. And while some spider species may have a reputation for toxic and/or infectious bites, researchers insist that human fatalities almost never result from spider bites. Considering the rarity of insect and spider fatalities, you would think that insects and spiders would never pose a deadly threat to people as they are working their day jobs. However, between the years of 2003 and 2010, insects, spiders and mites were responsible for 83 fatal occupational injuries. Most of these fatalities resulted from bee stings. Insects, arachnids and mites were also responsible for somewhere between 5 and 7 thousand non-fatal occupational injuries during a short two year period between 2008 and 2010. In the United States, an average of ten fatal occupational injuries involving arthropods occurred each year during a recent eight year period.
Of the 83 fatal occupational injuries caused by arthropods, 52 were caused by bees. Eleven individuals were killed on the job by wasps, three of these incidents involved the notoriously venomous wasp group known as yellow jackets. Seven of these on-the-job fatalities resulted from spiders and four resulted from ants. The majority of arthropod fatalities were associated with outdoor occupations, the most common of which included construction, landscaping and most of all, farming. During the eight year study period, a total of 38 agricultural workers were killed by arthropods while on the job, which accounted for two thirds of all fatal occupational injuries. Of the 83 fatal occupational arthropod attacks that occured between 2003 and 2010, 21 took place within the state of Texas, eight in Florida, six in California, six in Ohio and five in Pennsylvania. 94 percent of these deaths occurred during the summer in between the months of April and October. The greatest amount of arthropod related deaths while on the job occurred during September, which makes sense considering that flying insects become particularly aggressive during the early fall season.
Have you ever sustained an arthropod bite or sting while working?