Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about rats:

What are the risks from rats in the work place?

Signed, At Risk?

DearĀ At Risk?:

In some countries, rats are a source of food protein; in other countries they are taboo. I don’t know why you ask, but recent infestations of rats in some restaurants have been featured on television. In no place in our country that I know of are they welcomed. Perhaps it is because they have a reputation of transmitting disease. Below are excerpts of two sources that you might access on the Internet to provide more information:

1. The Black Plague is traditionally believed to have been caused by the micro-organism Yersinia pestis, carried by the rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis which preyed on R. rattus living in European cities of the day; these rats were victims of the plague themselves. While modern wild rats can carry Leptospirosis and some other “zoonotic” conditions (those which can be transferred across species, to humans, for example), these conditions are in fact rarely found. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat

2. Simon Fraiser University Health Alert: Presence of Rats In the Workplace Dear Fellow Members, Some buildings/offices/workplaces on the Burnaby campus have recently been subject to incursions by significant numbers of rats. The increase in the number of incidents of live or dead rats in the workplace was noted initially in the fall and has now reached what the Union believes is a serious level. We feel that at this time it is important for all members to be aware of the situation and to understand the potential health and safety risks and to understand your rights.

The Local has been in contact with WorkSafe BC and will continue to obtain information and assistance from them. No one who has not been trained or who is not properly equipped should attempt to remove or touch a dead rat or any rodent. No one who has not been trained or who is not properly equipped should attempt to clean up feces from rats or any rodent. Both of these actions can be potentially detrimental to your health. If either a dead rat or feces are found in your work area, you should immediately inform your supervisor, and Facilities Management should be contacted. Cleaning services should also be contacted immediately so that the area can be cleaned. Only the contracted pest control employee(s) can remove the animal remains and only specially equipped and trained staff can clean up rodent feces or clean an area following removal of a dead rodent. –In Solidarity, Joann Field V.P. 3338 http://www.3338.cupe.ca/news/health-alert:-presence-of-rats-in-the-workplace

Whether of not the risk of disease from rats in the workplace is high or low in modern countries, management should be alerted of sighting them or their feces. Please let us know why you write and what action you and/or is taken in your workplace should you have rat infestation. Safety is a primary responsibility of those who manage and all who work together.Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden