Safety share: Recognize and avoid poison ivy
Due to the late arrival of spring this year, we haven’t seen much poison ivy…but now it’s back. Recent rains contributed to the rapid spread of this weed.
You can get a rash from poison ivy by direct contact with the plant, or by touching something that has been touched by it, like your clothes or a pet.
Poison ivy leaves, stems, flowers and roots have an oily resin called urushiol. A very tiny amount of urushiol can give you a rash. You would normally get it from touching the plant’s leaves, but pulling the vine out by the roots — even in winter or if the plant is dead— can give you a rash, too.
How to avoid poison ivy
- Don’t touch poison ivy.
- Stay alert when walking through the forest or working in your garden.
- DO NOT walk off pathways or take shortcuts, which may lead to exposure.
- Poison ivy can be easily recognizable: it grows in clusters of three leaves.
- The old adage, “leaves of three, let it be,” is a rhyme to help you remember.
The appearance of poison ivy changes throughout the seasons
- Spring: New leaves are usually red and shiny.
- Summer: Leaves are green and new leaves are shiny.
- Fall: Leaves can still be red and change to yellow and orange.
- Winter: Poison ivy leaves have fallen off the stems.
Poison ivy at Argonne
To minimize the chance of being exposed to poison ivy on campus, the Health, Safety and Environment division will be working with the Grounds department and contractors to ensure that an herbicide is applied to poison ivy that might be growing in pathways, doorways or other access ways.
Natural paths and wooded areas will not be treated. Therefore, DO NOT walk off pathways or take shortcuts, which may lead to exposure.
If you touch poison ivy
If you believe you may have been exposed to poison ivy at Argonne, dial 9-1-1 from land lines or 1-630-252-1911 from cell phones and report it to your supervisor.
If you see poison ivy
If you see poison ivy, report it as a non-emergency through on online VECTOR form. Select the “Safety and Health” option, or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information is available in this safety share, courtesy of Frank Curran (HSE). Please print this information and use it to help kick off a team discussion at your next meeting with colleagues and/or staff. All employees are encouraged to submit safety shares for inclusion in the Safety Share Library, available on Box. Submission details are available on Inside Argonne. Each month a safety share submitted by an individual will be selected to receive a Spot Award for demonstrated safety leadership. The Spot Award program offers three award levels: gold ($100), silver ($50) and bronze ($25).