Working Around Toxic Plants

Working Around Toxic Plants

Working outdoors can increase the risk of being exposed to toxic or hazardous plants. Learn more about the risks and how to avoid them when working around toxic plants. As you continue reading below, you’ll begin to understand a few easy ways to mitigate exposure and risk.

close up of toxic plant

Image Source: Flickr

How Workers Are Exposed
Farmers, gardeners, outdoor guides, landscapers, and other people who work outdoors have a higher risk of getting harmed by hazardous plants through physical contact.
Examples of harmful plants found in B.C. include:

  • Scotch broom
  • Poison ivy
  • Giant hogweed

Hazardous plants can cause injuries such as:

  • Physical Injury

Getting pricked or cut by thorns or spines

  • Chemical Burns

A sap can contain photosensitive chemicals that can burn skin when exposed to sunlight due to its toxicity

  • Poisoning

This can cause severe skin irritation, inflammation, difficulty breathing, vomiting, powerlessness, unconsciousness, or death.


How to Reduce the Risks
Employers can educate their workers about the characteristics of hazardous plants listed in the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System that they need to avoid. Even though some plants are non-toxic, their thorns or spines can still cause serious physical injury. There are different risk controls over toxic plants that have varying degrees of effectiveness.

Below, you’ll find them arranged from the most effective to the least.


Engineering Controls
These include physical alterations to the facility, machinery, and processes to lessen exposure to the hazard.  As yourself: Can tools be utilized in a way that can lessen the physical contact with plants?


Administrative Controls
Changing policies at work, distributing awareness materials, and educating workers are all part of administrative controls.  Consider the following:

  • Can areas where the hazardous plants are located be marked with warning signs?
  • Are safe work procedures established for when workers are around or removing plants?
  • Are you able to train the workers concerning the hazards and how they can protect themselves best?
  • Are first aid supplies available?


Personal Protective Equipment
You must ensure that employees are wearing proper protective clothing and eyewear when handling or cleaning up hazardous plants.



Working Safety Solutions

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