Although that annoying co-worker a few desks away might occasionally bug you, bugs in your workplace are no laughing matter. If you work in an office, it's common to occasionally see flies or spiders, but a higher concentration of bugs could be a sign of a serious infestation. Do your part to keep bugs out of the workplace and alert your manager when you start to see a lot of these little critters.
Although most people associate bed bugs with the bedroom, they're alarmingly common in the workplace. A National Pest Management Association study in 2010 found that 20 percent of offices in the United States had bed bugs. Bed bugs are a concern in your place of work because you can carry them home in your clothing or personal belongings, which can spread them to your home. Bed bugs are roughly a quarter-inch in length and their bite leaves an itchy welt on your skin. Although you can often control a bed bug outbreak through steps such as washing clothing and linens, your company will likely hire an exterminator.
Regardless of where you work, bugs such as spiders and ants might make occasional appearances in your workplace. Seeing bugs in small numbers isn't a sign of an infestation, but keep an eye on the situation and report it to your supervisor if you feel the number of bugs is uncommonly high. Although the company might consult with an exterminator, a simple approach is to place poison or traps to reduce the bug population.
You have a responsibility to avoid bringing bugs into the workplace and to create a work environment that isn't conducive to bugs. If you have bed bugs at home, contact your employer and explain the situation; the employer might ask you to stay at home until you've solved the issue. Keep your desk and the surrounding area tidy to avoid attracting bugs; if you frequently leave food scraps on the desk or floor, bugs might gravitate to the area.
If you've learned that your workplace has a severe bug problem, be careful to avoid transporting them home with you, especially if they're bed bugs, which reproduce quickly. Larry Pinto, author of the "Bed Bug Handbook," recommends keeping your personal items sealed in a plastic bag when you're at work. If your employer believes in workplace flexibility, consider asking for permission to work from home until exterminators have fixed the infestation.
- USA Today: More Offices See Bedbug Infestations
- University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey: Bed Bugs in the Workplace
- NYC.gov: Frequently Asked Questions About Bed Bugs in the Workplace
- The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: Ant Control for Homeowners
- Georgetown Law: Definition of Workplace Flexibility
- Medical News Today: What Are Bed Bugs? How to Kill Bed Bugs
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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