What Can You Do About Bed Bugs in the Workplace

We tend to think of bed bugs as exclusively household pests. But bed bugs also infest businesses and office buildings. We’ve said it before and it bears repeating – bed bugs go where people go. So the workplace isn’t off limits. Not by a long shot.

That’s why businesses need to have a bed bug action plan in place. A simple rule book that will help prevent bed bugs from getting a foothold in the workplace.

Bed Bug Detection at the Office

Bed bugs in the workplace present a unique challenge. Especially when it comes to initial detection. Unlike bed bugs at home office bed bugs don’t have sleeping or resting areas to infest. This means that they tend to wander around the office before you’re aware of them. It makes early detection difficult.

Household bed bugs tend to be most active during the night. Feeding on their hosts while they’re resting. In an office that routine gets disrupted. Since they can’t find suitable hosts at night they’ll shift their activities to the daytime. Prowling the workplace until they find a host they can follow home.

Preventing Employees Taking Bed Bugs Home from Work

As a business owner or office manager one of your major concerns should be the welfare of your employees. This extends to preventing them from being exposed to bed bugs at the office and potentially bringing those bed bugs home to their families.

This isn’t purely altruistic. It’s also about interrupting the bed bug cycle. Employees that bring bed bugs home can end up with a houseful of bed bugs. Which they can, in turn, bring back into the workplace. So prevention pays dividends here.

Some simple precautions can help minimize the risk of transporting bed bugs to and from the office:

  • Limit the number of personal items brought into, and taken out of, the workplace.

  • Keep personal items off of the floor. Hand bags and briefcases can be hung from a door knob or hook. They can also be stored in tightly sealed plastic bins when not needed.

  • Eliminate office clutter wherever possible.

  • Avoid wearing trousers with cuffs (bed bugs love cuffs).

  • Monitor areas and personal belongings for bed bug activity.

Precautionary Steps for Infested Office Spaces

If bed bugs have already been spotted in the workplace it employees may wish to take some additional precautionary measures. Some of these may sound extreme but it’s better than bringing bed bugs home to roost.

  • Keep a change of clothes at work. This helps staff avoid wearing work clothes home and potentially spreading pests. When changing clothes put the discarded clothing in a sealable plastic bag.

  • When leaving the office staff should inspect themselves for bed bugs. Check clothes, shoe treads, collars and cuffs.

  • Employees should get in the habit of remove their clothing immediately upon entering their homes. Place the dirty clothes in a separate bag and keep separated from the family laundry.

  • Wash work clothes at the hottest recommended setting. Tumble dry on high heat for a minimum of 30 minutes. The heat should kill any stray bed bugs.

Preventing Bed Bugs in the Workplace

Bed bugs in the workplace can be more than just embarrassing. For business owners there can be significant financial and legal implications. So it pays to take any steps you can to prevent these pests from gaining a foothold.

Ideally, management and employees (as well as any custodial staff) should be educated about bed bugs and how to deal with them in the workplace. The following tips will help get your staff up to speed:

  • Workers should be given a crash course in bed bug prevention. It can be a good idea here to bring in someone from the local health department or an experienced bed bug removal specialist.

  • Identify areas in the building that may be susceptible to bed bug infestations.

  • Declutter the main office and any storage areas.

  • Regularly vacuum any areas that have shown bed bug activity.

  • Encourage all employees to report any bed bug sightings or unexplained bits or rashes.

  • Place bed bug traps in areas of concern. Traps can be placed along the edges of cubicle dividers and anywhere employee belongings are stored.

  • Reassess the company office furniture. Plastic, vinyl and metal surfaces are less appealing to bed bugs. Try to avoid upholstered furniture.

  • If an infestation is suspected promptly contact an experienced bed bug removal service and schedule an inspection.

Bed bugs can be a difficult, and sometimes costly, pest to deal with. As a business owner or office manager you owe to yourself, as well as to your employees, to have a bed bug contingency plan in place. Preparation is key and know what you can do before an infestation takes place can save you time, money, and a major headache.

Published by Scott Palatnik

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