Bed bug infestations are fairly avoidable if you’re savvy. Yes, the pests are called bed bugs but this is a misnomer as they’re not only found in beds. Unfortunately, the insects make homes in many indoor spaces that humans inhabit. This includes commercial workspaces and offices. Here’s how to avoid getting bedbugs from where you work:
Know the Facts
The overlying issue with bedbugs is the fact that they’re nocturnal and most of us are not at work at night. This makes it hard to tell if your workplace has an infestation.
However, since there are no humans in workplaces during their preferred time to roam, bedbugs don’t have a food source so they often will adapt their schedule and wander around during the day. In residential areas, there tends to be larger colonies of bedbugs whereas at workplaces there are lower quantities. They tend to increase by reintroducing themselves to the area periodically from people bringing them from home as opposed to reproducing.
Bedbugs are sneaky so it’s important to be proactive. You should monitor your workspace and personal items for signs of the pest as soon as you suspect they might be present. It’s also important to know what bedbugs look like.
Keep your eyes peeled for tiny black spots or dark red blood stains on your person. Bedbugs are a rusty red colour and about the size of an apple seed so they can be seen by the naked eye.
Hitchhiking is illegal for humans, but not bedbugs! They travel on clothes, shoes, briefcases, purses and even books. Any area that provides a cave-like dwelling for them is suitable. They can be brought, oftentimes unknowingly, into a workplace by customers, janitors, vendors, clients, employees and anyone else spending a minimal amount of time in the area.
Steps to Stop the Transportation of Bedbugs
- Reduce the number of items people bring into and out of the workplace from residential areas.
- Avoid storing anything on the floor. Use hooks or door knobs to hang bags and coats.
- De-clutter your workspace on a regular basis.
- Don’t cuff your pants and avoid wearing pants with pre-existing cuffs.
If bedbugs are discovered at your workplace, don’t call in sick just yet. Here are some ways you can avoid bringing them home:
- Bring a change of clothes to wear home from work. Keep the clothing that you’ve worn in the workplace in a sealable bag.
- Once you get home, wash these clothes on the hottest possible setting then tumble dry on high heat. Do not mix in your other clothes just in case.
- Before changing your clothes, inspect yourself for bedbugs by closely looking at your cuffs, pockets, collars and shoe treads for eggs and/or bed bugs.
Steps Employers and Business Owners Can Take to Avoid Bedbugs in the Workplace
- Hold seminars for workers on how to prevent and treat bedbugs.
- Include bedbug prevention tips in training materials for new hires.
- Scope out areas around the office that are more susceptible to bedbug infestations.
- Check for signs of bed bugs when opening boxes of new inventory or other shipments.
- De-clutter the area and keep all stored items organized.
- Seal any cracks or crevices with sealant as soon as they appear.
- Encourage open communication with staff so if they see any signs of bed bugs they will report them to you.
- If an employee has bed bugs, give them a paid leave until they get the pests exterminated.
- If it’s not possible to give the employee paid leave, implement another policy to avoid staff members with bed bugs entering the workplace.
- Give employees sealable plastic bags or plastic bins to store their belongings.
- Place monitoring or interceptor devices in susceptible areas.
- Purchase furniture made of plastic, vinyl or metal as they are less appealing to bedbugs.
- Avoid hanging art, wall decor or other framed items on walls.
- Put a new sanitation program into action to maintain cleanliness and organization.
- Regularly vacuum all carpeted areas or other upholstered furniture.
- Keep an eye out for any bed bug activity and record any sightings diligently.