CBIZ Sattler Adventure Sports Blog

Insights and tips on how to protect your adventure sports business, giving you and your guests peace of mind.

Ward, Hayden
/ Categories: BLOG Articles

Avoiding Poisonous Plants While On The Job

According to the Food and Drug Administration, approximately 85% of the population will develop an allergic reaction when exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac. As a result of working outside, you and your employees need to take the necessary precautions to protect against these poisonous plants and remain illness-free.

Be safe and healthy with these helpful tips!

How Are Plants Dangerous?

Unlike non-poisonous plants, poison oak, ivy and sumac contain a chemical called urushiol, which causes rashes, blisters and constant itching. This chemical is found inside of the plants, so brushing against them won’t cause a negative reaction. Unfortunately, most plants are damaged or broken due to wind and animals exposing the urushiol. Urushiol can stick to your tools and your clothing, so when you touch these items, you may experience a reaction. Urushiol that rubs off from plants onto other objects can remain potent for years, depending on your environment.

What Do Poisonous Plants Look Like?

The general rule is that if the plant has “leaves of three, let it be.” However, many plants have groups containing five to nine leaves. Here’s what else to look for:

Poison Ivy

  • Grows near lakes and streams in the Midwest and East
  • Has a woody, rope-like vine, a trailing shrub on the ground or a free-standing shrub
  • Normally have three leaves but could have more, which are green in the summer and red in the fall. They can also have yellow or green flowers and white berries.


Poison Oak

  • Grows as a low shrub from New Jersey to Texas and as tall vines along the Pacific coast
  • Contains oak-like leaves in clusters of three with clumps of yellow berries


Poison Sumac

  • Grows in boggy areas, especially in the Southeast
  • Grows as a shrub up to 15 feet tall with seven to 13 smooth-edged leaves. Also has a glossy, pale yellow or cream-colored berry.


For a helpful reminder of what these poisonous plants look like and how to protect yourself, download our poisonous plant guide. Hang it up in your office or facility for your guests and employees to see so they can refer back to it.


Cleanse exposed skin with rubbing alcohol and wash the area with water. Then, take a shower with soap and warm water. Do not use soap until the second washing, because you could initially move the urushiol around on the skin with the soap.

Wipe clothing, shoes, tools, etc. off with rubbing alcohol and water. Always wear gloves and throw them away when you are done.

Redness and swelling can appear within 12 to 48 hours after exposure, and blisters and itching may accompany it. The reaction should disappear within 14 to 20 days without treatment, but your body’s response to urushiol is often difficult to manage without treatment. Use a wet compress and take an oral antihistamine for relief. You can also use topical hydrocortisone on the affected area to relieve itching.

Safety First

When a large portion of your day is spent exploring the great outdoors, it can be difficult to remember all of the risks that come with it. Get the protection you need today and  request a free CBIZ Sattler Adventure Sport Insurance quote. Worry less and adventure more!

This blog may contain scenarios that are provided as examples only. In an actual claim situation, coverage is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy issued. The information provided is general in nature and may be affected by changes in law or the interpretation of such laws. The reader is advised to contact a professional prior to taking any action based upon this information.

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CBIZ Sattler Adventure Sports Insurance, a division of CBIZ Insurance Services, Inc., is the largest insurer of adventure sports businesses in the United States. As part of an $850 million New York Stock Exchange traded company (CBZ), we developed a policy coverage to meet the needs for those in the recreation and outfitting industries. Our policy is underwritten by an A.M. Best Rated A++ (Superior) company.