How To Avoid Bed Bugs At Work

US EPA

Bed Bugs

Protecting Yourself from Bed Bugs in Public Places

It is very unlikely, though not impossible, that a bed bug infestation will develop in an office, classroom, or other non-residential environment, such as a department store. However, these sites can serve as transfer hubs for bed bugs to hitchhike a ride into your home. Management, staff, students and workers all have roles to play in reducing the spread of bed bugs.

Steps You Can Take

  • Reduce clutter. Clutter serves as an ideal habitat for bed bugs whether at home, school or office. By reducing clutter in your workplace or school, you provide fewer places for the bed bugs to hide and fewer opportunities for them to hitchhike to your home.
  • Keep your belongings stowed separately from those of other people.If there is a known problem with bed bugs in the office or school, consider storing your belongings in a plastic bin.
  • Be vigilant in areas where bed bugs are most likely to be found, which include break rooms, storage areas (coat closets or cubbies), offices or lounges with upholstered furniture, or areas where people may rest.
  • Establish a monitoring program so that if a bed bug is found in an area the status of that area will be formally tracked.
  • Multiple sightings in the same area could indicate an infestation or multiple reintroductions from someone’s home.
  • Educate the staff so that they know what to do if a bug is found that appears to be a bed bug.
  • Discourage panic and the stigma associated with bed bugs. These are counterproductive and can make treatment more difficult.
  • Vacuum daily to pick up any stray bugs before they settle in.
  • If a Bed Bug is Found

    • Inform management and facility staff who have the lead in any control efforts.
    • Only treat if a true infestation is found with breeding bed bugs. Remember, a single bed bug is not an infestation.
    • Hire a pest professional that uses integrated pest management techniques.
    • You can minimize exposure of workers or students by applying pesticides on a Friday evening, or other time that building occupants are not present.
  • Alert everyone who works in the building. Let staff know how the sighting will be handled. This allows them to take additional precautions to protect their homes as well as limiting rumors and speculation.
  • Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

    Pest Control Indianapolis

    How to Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Home from Work

    How to Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Home from Work

    When bed bugs started creeping back into America, stowaways in the luggage of international travelers, hotels took the first hit. Soon bed bugs started cropping up in houses and apartments, hitchhiking their way in on the clothing and in the suitcases of business travelers and vacationers. Until this summer, however, bed bugs were rarely heard of in U.S. retail stores or commercial office buildings.

    More recently, bed bugs began leaving the comfortable sanctuary of American bedrooms and showing up at schools, libraries, hospitals and other high traffic areas. This summer, the first reports of bed bugs in retail stores and a slew of workplace infestations caused panicked Americans to see bed bugs lurking around every corner. It was like turning the clock back to our great-grandparents’ day when bed bugs were an everyday fact of life.

    Bed bugs typically inhabit bedrooms, preferring to hide close to their preferred food source – the blood of sleeping humans. Entomologists say the increasing incidence of bed bugs in the workplace, far from their normal feeding environment, indicates the exponential growth of these blood-sucking parasites. In a July 2010 survey of pest control firms conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky, 95% of the pest control professionals surveyed had encountered bed bugs, and 1 in 5 (20%) reported treating infestations in commercial buildings. In 2007 commercial infestations accounted for less than 1% of U.S. bed bug infestations. Today, 40% of bed bug exterminations are performed in commercial settings.

    University of Kentucky entomologist and national bed bug expert Michael Potter has called bed bugs the most serious insect threat of the 21the century and the most difficult to control. Slightly smaller than an apple seed, these nocturnal, blood-sucking parasites are adept at hiding in minute crevices, easily transported to new locations and able to survive for a year without feeding. Incredibly prolific, a single pair of bed bugs can produce 300 offspring and 1,000 eggs in three months. Hatching in about a week, larvae begin reproducing within a month. In just a few months, a single pair of bed bugs can spawn an infestation numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

    Not attracted by dirt or filth, bed bugs target human blood, on which they must feed before molting or reproducing. Adept hitchhikers, these blood-sucking parasites are spread by their victims, riding into office buildings with co-workers, visitors, venders, maintenance staff and deliverymen – An equal opportunity pest, in the past year bed bug infestations have been found in former President Bill Clinton’s Harlem office, the Sirius XM Radio studio of shock jock Howard Stern, U.N. headquarters, the Ronald Reagan building in Washington D.C., IRS offices in Philadelphia and Kentucky, two Abercrombie & Fitch Hollister stores, Victoria’s Secret, the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, AMC Times Square movie theater, the Empire State Building, and the corporate offices of Time Warner, Google, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offices in Rockville, Maryland, to name a few.

    When bed bugs invade an office, employees often panic, pointing fingers at each other and ostracizing coworkers believed to have introduced the pests. However, bed bugs are so prevalent that more than one worker may have brought them into the workplace or they may have migrated from another office in the building through vents, wall voids or electrical conduits. Barely 1/4 inch long and paper thin when not feeding, bed bugs can slip between the teeth of a backpack zipper; crawl into briefcases and purses, or ride into an office hidden in the seams of clothing or coats. A traveling coworker may carry bed bugs into the office inside his suitcase. Attracted to heat, bed bugs have even been found hiding inside the battery compartments of laptop computers, iPhones and iPods. Your home doesn’t have to be infested for you to pick up bed bugs. You can get them on a subway, bus or taxi. You can bring them home from a movie theater or library. If you brush against someone who is carrying bed bugs or sit in a seat recently vacated by a bed bug victim, there’s an excellent chance some of these pests will jump ship and go to work or home with you.

    Employers must be proactive in dealing with bed bugs. Business owners should develop a comprehensive bed bug action plan to ensure that they and their employees are prepared should bed bugs come calling. An employer’s action plan should:

    1. Educate employees so they can recognize bed bugs, signs of infestation and bite symptoms and encourage vigilance.

    2. Update employee handbooks and set forth bed bug avoidance techniques and reporting procedures.

    3. Emphasize the importance of early detection. Encourage employees to immediately advise management of bed bug activity in the workplace or at home.

    4. Be open and sympathetic in communications with employees.

    5. Should an employee carry bed bugs home, offer support. Consider defraying the cost of home inspection and treatment for employees, allow employees to use vacation days and the Family and Medical Leave Act to cope with home infestations.

    6. Arrange immediate treatment with a licensed pest control professional.

    7. Launch a containment plan to prevent cross-contamination between work and home.

    If your office is invaded by bed bugs, employees can also take proactive steps to prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking home with them:

    1. Educate yourself and your family so you know what bed bugs and their bites look like, where to look for them and signs of infestations.

    2. Adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Get rid of clutter where bed bugs can hide. Keep everything off the floor.

    3. Inspect your office chair and desk for signs of bed bugs daily. Choose metal over wood office furniture.

    4. Leave briefcases and laptops at work. Use a hard-sized, not fabric, briefcase. Minimize the number of items you carry between work and home and transport them in sealed plastic bags.

    5. Zip work items into a bed bug-proof luggage liner to minimize cross-contamination.

    6. When you arrive home after work, leave your shoes in the garage. Inspect each item carefully before taking it into your home.

    7. Change clothes as soon as you get home. Place work clothes in sealed plastic bags until they can be laundered.

    8. At home, cover mattresses and box springs with bed bug-proof mattress encasements to prevent bed bugs from infesting your bedding.

    9. If your office is the site of an active infestation, regularly inspect sheets and mattresses for bed bug signs.

    10. If you suspect a bed bug infestation at home, immediately call Black Widow Pest Control Inc and arrange treatment.

    How to Prevent Bed Bugs

    Updated: April 11, 2019

    This article was co-authored by Jurdy Dugdale, RN. Jurdy Dugdale is a Registered Nurse in Florida. She received her Nursing License from the Florida Board of Nursing in 1989.

    There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

    Bed bugs are a growing concern since they’ve become more common in recent years and are extremely difficult to exterminate. While hotels are high on the list of bed bug concerns, any public place can be a haven for bed bugs. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent a bed bug infestation in your home. By avoiding contaminated materials, avoiding bed bugs while traveling, and protecting your home, you can prevent bed bugs.

    Related wikiHows

    About this article

    To prevent bed bugs, use protective plastic covers on your mattress and box springs so bed bugs will not be able to infect your bed even if you accidentally bring them home. When you’re staying in a hotel, check the sheets, mattress, and headboard for small brownish bugs, and contact management if you find any. Wash your travel clothes separately from your regular laundry and dry them on the highest possible heat setting. To learn how using essential oils can help repel bed bugs, read on!

    Bed Bugs in the Workplace

    What are bed bugs?

    Bed bugs are small, oval shaped, wingless insects. The bugs are about the size of apple seeds. The eggs are white, and are found in clusters. The eggs are about the size of a pin head. The flattened bodies of bed bugs allow them to hide in very small places such as seams of mattresses, cracks, crevices, electrical outlets, box springs, bed frames, headboards, behind wallpaper, or in any other objects around a bed or on the floor. Bed bugs cannot climb metal or polished surfaces and are not able to fly or jump.

    Bed bugs typically feed on a diet consisting solely of blood once a week, but they can live months without feeding. They have about a one-year life span during which time females can lay up to 200-400 eggs which hatch in about 10 days. The bugs usually come out at night to feed on the blood of people and animals, biting their victims as they sleep.

    How can infestation occur?

    Bed bugs move very quickly and can travel through hallways, plumbing, and electrical lines. They can climb into bags or on clothing. They usually feed at night and hide during the day. These insects prefer darkness and tend to hide near the bed. They travel up to 20 feet in search of a human host.

    Who is at risk?

    Bed bugs can be found anywhere that humans live or visit. Bed bugs can be unknowingly brought into the workplace by employees, custodial staff, visitors, customers, vendors, clients, and others.

    Workers potentially at higher risk are those who handle bedding, clothing, or furniture where bed bugs could be hiding. These occupations include fire fighters, health care professionals, housing management staff, housekeeping and custodial staff, police, and social workers who work in or visit hospitals, long-term care facilities, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, motels and residences.

    What are the symptoms?

    Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases and the bites do not usually require any medical treatment. One way to identify a bed bug infestation is by the bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, a bed bug bite can take as long as 14 days to appear, depending on the person.

    When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Some people do not react at all to the bites, while others may have small skin reactions. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea; slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. In rare cases, some people may have severe allergic reactions.

    To avoid infection, try not to scratch the bites and keep the bite sites clean. Using antiseptic creams or lotions, as well as antihistamines, may help. Talk to your health care provider for advice.

    How do I find bed bugs?

    Some workplaces are susceptible to bed bugs, or perhaps you will find them while working in a client’s home or when travelling for work.

    Seeing bed bugs can be difficult, but you can try to inspect both hard and soft furniture (such as the head board, night stand, mattresses and box springs) or around electrical outlets and light switches. Look at the seams, between cushions, in the folds of blankets or curtains, etc. for bugs, eggs, or blood stains/droppings. One option is to run an object with a sharp edge (such as a credit card) past these areas to disturb any bugs that may be present.

    If you suspect bed bugs are present in the workplace, report this to your supervisor. If your concerns are not addressed in a timely manner, you can report the concern to your joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative. You may also be able to confirm if you have bed bugs by consulting with your local public health unit or pest control operator.

    How do you prevent bed bug infestation?

    The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

    • Be careful when buying used furniture. Inspect each item carefully and wash/clean before use.
    • Reduce clutter, as it serves as an ideal habitat for bed bugs whether at home, school, or at work. This housekeeping measure will reduce the number of places for the bed bugs to hide and fewer opportunities for them to travel home with you.
    • Keep your belongings stored separately from those of other people. If there is a known problem with bed bugs in the workplace or at school, consider storing your belongings in a separate plastic bin.
    • Be vigilant in areas where bed bugs are most likely to be found – including break rooms, storage areas, offices or lounges with upholstered furniture, or areas where people may rest.
    • Consider changing into work clothes and shoes when arriving at work and removing them before going home (when there is a risk of infestation).

    What are the employer’s responsibilities?

    Employers have duties under the occupational health and safety Acts and its applicable Regulations to take every reasonable precaution to protect the health and safety of the worker.

    The following precautionary measures can be taken to prevent bed bug infestations and to protect the worker based on a risk assessment conducted of the workplace:

    • Develop policies and procedures for reporting bed bug infestations (on-site and off-site workplaces).
    • Keep records of infestations, including details of where and when infestations were encountered and the extent of infestations.
    • Provide education to all workers regarding bed bugs, including information on bed bug identification, signs of infestation, and prevention awareness.
    • Implement integrated pest management activities through a licensed pest management service provider.
    • Provide coveralls, shoe covers, or gloves to workers if appropriate. Provide sealable plastic containers to protect workers’ equipment or belongings.

    How can bed bugs be removed?

    Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by chemical spraying. An integrated pest management system which combines a variety of techniques and products is usually the best option. Information on the safety data sheet should be read and used as directed. To reduce exposure to the chemicals being used for treatment/spraying, it should not occur while employees are in the area. Always follow safe work procedures when working with or near pesticides. See the series of documents about pesticides for more information.

    Other physical methods of controlling bedbugs include steam cleaning, vacuuming, heating, freezing, washing, or throwing out items. Steam cleaning should be done before vacuuming, as the steam will flush any bedbugs out of hiding. Heat treatments should be done by professionals.

    Whichever treatment is used, it will only be effective if physical control methods and preventative measures are used together.

    If you suspect bed bugs have entered your suitcase or clothing, prevention steps include to unpack outdoors, wash clothes using hot water, dry everything in the dryer at the highest temperature for at least 30 minutes, and vacuum your luggage thoroughly.

    Add a badge to your website or intranet so your workers can quickly find answers to their health and safety questions.

    What’s New

    Check out our What’s New listing to see what has been added or revised.

    Tips for Bed Bugs in the Office

    Although bed bugs are typically thought to be a household pest, they can hitchhike with people to their places of employment. In fact, a 2015 Bugs Without Borders survey by NPMA found that 45% of pest control professionals have encountered bed bugs in office buildings. Here are the NPMA’s tips to prevent bringing bed bugs home from the workplace:

    • Vacuum and clean all areas – including offices, hallways, lobbies, kitchens, storefronts and public bathrooms on a daily basis.
    • Regularly inspect all areas of business for signs of bed bugs infestations at work. Pay close attention to the seams of furniture and upholstery for telltale brownish or reddish spots. Also beware that these pests have been known to inhabit electrical sockets, surge protectors and behind picture frames. Vigilance by all employees is key!
    • Eliminate clutter as best as possible – especially in storage areas as this provides excellent hiding spots for bed bugs in the office.
    • When unpacking new inventory or receiving shipments, carefully inspect all items and packaging for signs of bed bugs before bringing them into your business.
    • Encourage employees to report suspicions of bed bug activity immediately, and always contact a pest professional to investigate each claim.
    • Have a policy in place for employees who may suspect a bed bug infestation at home. Many times, employees unknowingly bring these bed bugs into the office. By having an open dialogue and official policy on these pest infestations, you may be able to help remove any concern of honest reporting.
    • If a bed bug infestation is found, work with a professional pest control company to treat the infestation and perform follow-up inspections.

    Check out our other tips for preventing bed bugs in different settings:

    History of Bed Bugs

    Learn about the history of bed bugs and the factors that lead to their resurgence.

    Bed Bug Biology

    Learn about the biology of bed bugs – from their shape and size to their life cycle and feeding habits.

    Location of Bed Bugs

    Wondering where bed bugs are found? Discover common bed bug habitats and infestation regions.

    Signs of Bed Bugs

    Learn about the common signs of bed bugs – from bites on the skin to spots on the mattress to sticky eggs.

    Bed Bug Facts and Stats

    Read bed bug facts and statistics compiled by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

    Add Comments: