Human Resources Policies
Bed Bugs
Addressing Employee Concerns with respect to Bed Bugs

Category: Health and Safety
Sub-Category: General

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Policy Statement

Purpose

This policy is intended to enhance employee awareness regarding bed bugs. The sharing of information with employees who may encounter bed bugs in their work activities will assist them in ensuring that bed bugs encountered during work activities are not carried to other locations.

Note: This policy was reviewed and revised in 2017 to reflect knowledge and experience acquired since the policy was first introduced.


Background

Bed bugs can be seen with the naked eye and are similar to an apple seed in size and appearance (see attached Q&A as Appendix A for more details). There are currently no known or reported cases of disease transmission associated with the bite of a bed bug. Consequently, bed bugs are not considered to be a health hazard.

Levels of infestations of bed bugs can vary. Bed bugs are most likely to be found in seams, cracks and crevices around beds, sofas or chairs. They may also be found in other areas. Bed bugs prefer to feed on human blood and may bite anywhere on the human body. Bed bug bites, as other insect bites, can cause a range of reactions, from none to an allergic skin reaction. Also as with other insect bites, secondary infection can occur with scratching.

Bed bugs may lead to negative physical, social and mental health impacts for those who encounter them. These impacts are particularly severe for the most vulnerable members of society, many of whom need City services. City employees provide services to clients that may result in them encountering bed bugs. The presence of bed bugs should not lead to services being withheld. Rather, an environmental assessment to determine the level of the infestation and the development if an action plan to support the client to address the situation is needed. The City will provide information, education and protective measures to reduce or eliminate negative impacts on employees.

Information and protective measures provided to employees will enable them to:

  • Recognize bed bugs
  • Appropriately report if they have encountered, or suspect they have encountered, bed bugs during the course of their work
  • Take appropriate precautions to avoid bed bug encounters
  • Take precautions appropriate to the services being provided to prevent bed bugs they may encounter from being carried to other locations
  • Understand the types of supports that are available from their division in the event that a bed bug infestation within their home occurs as a result of a documented workplace encounter

Application

This policy applies to all City divisions and all City employees. The level of action required by divisions in response to this policy is to be determined through classification of the likelihood of employees encountering bed bugs during the course of their work.

Classifications

For the purpose of this policy, two classifications are identified:

Classification 1 (likely to encounter):

  • Nature of work performed requires employees to work in environments where there are known or reported bed bugs
  • Work is performed in environments where bed bugs are likely to be encountered (e.g. client homes, apartment buildings and other facilities that provide shelter/living accommodation).
  • Any other City workplace in which there have been repeated bed bug encounters and/or recurring employee concerns

Classification 2 (less likely to encounter):

Bed bugs may be encountered in public and community spaces. Any employee may encounter bed bugs in the course of activities of daily life, including work activities. Employees in this classification are at similar likelihood of encountering bed bugs as members of the general public.


Responsibilities

Divisions will:

  • Ensure that an assessment of the likelihood of employees encountering bed bugs in the course of their work is conducted

Managers/supervisors will:

  • Conduct an assessment of the likelihood of employees encountering bed bugs during the course of their work
  • If their employees fall within Classification 1 (likely to encounter):
    • Provide information/training regarding:
      • Identification of bed bugs and signs of a bed bug infestation
      • Bed bug behaviours
      • Locations where bed bugs are most likely to be found
      • Prevention of bed bug infestations
      • Measures to minimize the likelihood of bed bugs being carried to other locations (see attached Appendix A Questions and Answers document, page 3)

    Additional information is available on Toronto Public Health's (TPH's) website toronto.ca/health/bedbugs.

    Facilities Management Services Custodial and Maintenance Services work order process, to be used in requesting pest control services, can be accessed at http://insideto.toronto.ca/fred/fred.htm

    • Review with employees the Q&A document that is appended to this policy
    • Integrate into existing procedures or establish a new procedure to enable employees to report bed bugs on their person, in their vehicle or at home following a bed bug encounter during City work
    • Where applicable, work with Facilities Management or property manager to follow best Integrated Pest Management practices at locations that are City-owned or City -leased to address bed bugs or any other pests
    • Communicate to employees actions to take in the event that bed bugs encountered at work are carried to other locations
    • Implement protective measures appropriate to the nature of work performed
    • Develop and communicate to employees the types of supports that are available in the event that a bed bug infestation within their home occurs as a result of a documented workplace encounter
  • If their employees fall within Classification 2 (less likely to encounter):
    • Communicate with any employee(s) who express bed bug concerns information regarding bed bugs, how to identify them, where they are typically located, how to minimize bed bugs being carried to other locations
    • In the event that the concern is generalized throughout the workplace, arrange for information sessions
    • Review with employees the Q&A document that is appended to this policy
    • Should bed bugs be present in the City-owned or City-leased workplace, work with facilities/building management to identify and undertake appropriate remedial measures. Facilities Management Services Custodial and Maintenance Services work order process, to be used in requesting pest control services, can be accessed at http://insideto.toronto.ca/fred/fred
    • Document any reports from employees of workplace encounters with bed bugs

Additional information is available on Toronto Public Health's (TPH's) website Toronto.ca/health/bedbugs

Employees will:

  • Review bed bug-related information provided to them
  • Use the information provided and follow established divisional procedures regarding bed bugs
  • Attend training/information sessions scheduled by their supervisor/employer
  • Report to their supervisor pest management issues, including unusual situations involving bed bugs (e.g. Employees in Classification 1 who encounter bed bugs regularly would report if bed bugs were noted on their person, in their vehicle or at home following an encounter during City work. Employees in Classification 2 would report any encounters with bed bugs in the workplace)

People, Equity & Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety will:

  • Assist divisions with communications regarding bed bugs
  • Assist with addressing the employee(s) concern if needed


Endorsed by:

Occupational Health & Safety Coordinating Committee (OHSCC), December 6, 2011

Approved by

City Manager

Date Approved

December 12, 2011

Reviewed by OHSCC

September 27, 2017


Related links - external

Toronto Public Health
Bed Bugs Appendix A

Attachments

Bed Bugs _ Appendix A.pdf (313 Kbytes)

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