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As we all know, many of the tasks that telecommunications, power company, and other workers need to perform each day are in the “great outdoors.” That scenario leads to the potential exposure of these workers to all kinds of seasonal environmental hazards such as the “terrible trio” of poisonous plants: poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

NOTE: Please see this month’s “Safety Tips” article “Nature’s Field Hazards Part 1: Poisonous Plants – Leaves of three, let them be! ”, on our web site for additional information on these poisonous plants.

This month’s “Teck Tip” will present a unique and environmentally friendly way to prevent workers from being exposed to the hazards of these poisonous plants.

As the old adage “leaves of three, let is be” says, avoiding contact with poisonous plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac is the best way to prevent contamination. This is especially true if the plant leaves are broken or damaged, such as from mowing, or the use of “weed whackers”. It is the potent oily sap released from these plants called urushiol that causes the rash, blisters, and itching associated with exposure to your skin. Wearing long sleeve shirts, long pants, gloves and hats can be very helpful in prevention, but your garments themselves (as well as your tools) may become contaminated if they come in contact with these plants. Thus, urishiol contamination could be transferred to your skin later. Simply taking off your shoes for example, after walking through an area where these plants are present could result in exposure. Following this train of thought regarding avoidance therefore, the best way to avoid these plants and the danger of contact with your clothing, skin, or tools is to totally eliminate them at all of your outdoor work sites. This is normally no easy task with the applied treatments on the market today.

Sure, there are a number of herbicidal treatments that can control the growth of poisonous plants such as poison ivy, oak, and sumac at outdoor work sites, and some claim to eliminate these plants altogether. Many of these products however, require frequent re-treating of the area to be effective (i.e. washed away by rain), and some are extremely harmful to the environment as well. Even burning of poisonous plants to get rid of them is hazardous in itself, as the resultant smoke can be very harmful to your system, and could cause a severe reaction.

Thanks to a unique, safe, and environmentally friendly system developed by U-TECK, the elimination of poisonous plants (as well as your garden variety weeds) is possible (and easy) without the use of hazardous chemicals at outdoor work sites. Our system is a line of “WeedEnder” products called Ped Mats for use around telecommunications facilities such as pedestals, cross boxes, remote terminal sites, controlled environmental vaults, etc., as well as at power company facilities such as sub-stations. Municipalities also find it convenient to use Ped Mats around fire hydrants so that they can be kept weed free and easily spotted by firefighters.

NOTE: In addition to the elimination of poisonous plants and weeds, other significant safety benefits are also possible by using Ped Mats. These include increased visibility of the remote site and the elimination of fire ant infestation.

Although our Ped Mats may be placed at any time during the year, the best time for installation is in early spring , before weeds and poisonous plants have had a chance to really establish themselves and develop significant amounts of their harmful foliage.

For additional information on our Vegetation Control Systems click here.

Russ Mason , President of U-TECK, has also written an excellent and informative feature entitled “Controlling Vegetation Growth at Work Sites”. For a copy of this article click on the link, or visit our web site and go to the “LINKS” section of the Information Board on our home page. The article also provides additional information regarding the use of Ped Mats.

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