Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Oct 19, 2010

It wasn’t just a nursery rhyme, those bed bugs are for real!


When Niketown in New York City had to close down due to a bed bug infestation, there was a collective shudder across America. Its hard to believe, but bed bugs are resurging in this country. In case youve never heard of the little critters, bed bugs are small parasites that bite humans and feed on their blood, while making their homes in upholstered areas often used by people (e.g. beds, sofas, carpets, or arm chairs).

Bed bugs can find their way into your workplace by hitching a ride with someone. Especially at risk are members of your mobile workforce who frequently travel and stay at hotels. A little education could help them reduce their risk. Useful travel-related advice is available from CBS, the University of Minnesota, the New York Department of Health and Hygiene, and numerous other sources.

So what can you do if bed bugs hit your workplace? First, dont panic. Assess the situation by conducting an inspection of the various areas where bed bugs may be hiding. You may need to call in the experts to help with that assessment, since theyre probably more familiar with what to look for. Second, inform your employees about whats going on and reassure them. Encourage them to report any bugs they see or bites they experience, and educate them about how to look for bed bugs in their homes or work areas. Third, take steps to eliminate the problem. Again, you should call in the experts to fumigate and give advice about what to do. Bed bugs can be notoriously difficult to get rid of, so rely on the experts instead of trying to handle the problem yourself.

There are lots of resources available to help you learn about and prevent bed bug infestations. Try these to get you started: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, and the California Department of Public Health.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.