Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.
Blacklegged ticks that can transmit Lyme disease are in Ontario. Workers who work in certain outdoor areas are at risk for tick bites and developing Lyme disease, and should protect themselves.
Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. In Ontario only bites by the blacklegged ticks (formerly called deer ticks) can spread the disease. Not all blacklegged ticks are infected with the bacteria. These ticks are more commonly found in woodlands, tall grasses and bushes—and thrive in wet environments. While low, there is a probability of encountering blacklegged ticks almost anywhere in Ontario as the ticks can spread by migratory birds. Ticks are most active in the summer months, but can be found at any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing.
Symptoms of Lyme disease usually occur within one to two weeks but can occur as soon as three days or as long as months, after an infected tick bite. In order to transmit the disease, a tick must be attached to feed for at least 24 hours. The early symptoms and signs may include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue, swollen glands, and an expanding skin rash. If you develop these symptoms, promptly seek medical advice. See your doctor or a healthcare provider right away, whether you have symptoms, or are just feeling unwell in the weeks following a tick bite. Be sure to tell them about your outdoor occupation, and if you have been working in an area where you may have had exposure to ticks. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
Lyme disease is not spread from person to person or by animals. However, animals may carry the infected ticks.
Public Health Ontario also provides a map of lyme disease estimated risk areas where blacklegged ticks have been identified and are known to reside.
Infected ticks are becoming more common in the Rainy River area of northwestern Ontario.
Blacklegged ticks spread to new areas of the province because of climate change and warmer winter temperatures. They can also spread by traveling on birds and deer.
Occupations at risk include outdoor workers especially those in southern Ontario who may work in wooded, bushy areas or in tall grasses such as workers in park and wildlife management, ground keepers, loggers, construction workers, farmers, fishers, camp counsellors, landscape workers, biologists, veterinarians, silviculture workers and tree planters.
Prompt removal of attached ticks (within 24 hours) can decrease the risk of infection. For information on the removal of ticks and treatment, visit the link below to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website.
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Government of Canada
Ministry of Labour
Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.
It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.
While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.