HSE Issues Warning Regarding Risk of Lyme Disease to Employers

The HSE has issued a warning to employers of staff who regularly work outdoors regarding the risk of Lyme Disease this summer. If the employers fail to properly inform their staff of the risks, they are liable to face legal action in the case of infection.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has issued a warning about the potential threat of Lyme disease due to the increased numbers of the ticks that carry the bacterial infection during the summer months. The bacteria spreads to humans via the tick, which humans can pick up from horses, sheep, cattle, dogs and deer.

Dr Paul McKeown-who works for the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre-warns that people are at a higher risk of contracting the disease during the summer due to the increased probability that they’ll spend time engaging in outdoor pursuits. People who spend time in terrain such as forests or areas with deep or overgrown vegetation-inducing woodlands and heathlands-are especially at risk.

Employers are now responsible to inform their employees about the risks of Lyme disease if they work in such habitats that put them at heightened risk. They must inform their staff how to properly recognised the symptoms of a tick bite, and provide them with adequate protection to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. Dr McKeown has provided a list of precautions to take, including;

-Wearing long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, socks, and shoes
-Applying insect repellent such as DEET (on skin) or Permethrin (on clothes)
-Checking skin, hair, and clothes for ticks after being in such environments

If an employer has failed in their duty of care and not informed their employees of such risks, in the instance that their employee is bitten by a tick and becomes infected, they are liable to be taken to court by their staff and pay a settlement of compensation for Lyme Disease at work.