OSHA 1926.21(b)(4) states: In job site areas where harmful plants or animals are present, employees who may be exposed shall be instructed regarding the potential hazards, and how to avoid injury and the first aid procedures to be used in the event of injury.


Poison ivy has poisonous sap called urushiol (u-ROO-she-ol) in its roots, stems and leaves that causes skin irritation and blisters. Poison ivy has slightly shiny, dark green leaves that are found in groups of three. They can be smooth or notched. The plant most commonly grows as a vine, but you can also find it as a low-growing shrub. Exposure can cause a rash that can take up to 48 hours to appear and may last two-three weeks. The fluid from blisters cannot cause additional skin reaction.

Contrary to common belief, poison oak is not found in Indiana.

While not as abundant as the poison ivies and poison oaks, poison sumac is typically found in wet or swampy areas as it likes to grow in or near water. Poison sumac grows as a bush or tree with some maturing to heights of twenty feet. If the sumac plant does not have flowers or waxy, white berries, you can identify it by the red stems and feather-shaped leaves.


Keep exposed skin covered when you are working in areas where contact is possible. Avoid burning poisonous plants or being in the area where brush and poisonous plants are being burned, as the poisonous sap can spread as a fume. Airborne sap can be inhaled, absorbed through the eyes or unprotected skin. The effects can be extremely hazardous.


If you are exposed:

  • Wash the exposed areas of skin immediately with mild soap and running water.
  • Launder exposed clothing several times before you wear it again.
  • Avoid scratching affected areas. This can lead to infection.
  • Use corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone cream, to relieve symptoms.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people who have had severe reactions in the past to any of these plants, contact a dermatologist as soon as possible after a new exposure.

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