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Health and safety at work

Health and safety at work - what it means.

Bed bugs

Bedbugs are small insects that feed on human blood, usually at night that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems. Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

In the UK bed bugs reach peak numbers towards early autumn when all stages in their life cycle will be present. Activities decrease with the onset of cold weather; egg-laying ceases and the development of the juveniles slow down. Bed bugs spend the winter mainly as adults unless in adequately heated premises.

What do I need to do?

As an employer you should:

  • have a bed bug procedure as part of your pest control procedure. This should document your control measures and have information on what to do if you experience an infestation.
  • keep records from your pest control contractor
  • ensure high standards of hygiene and housekeeping are kept so that the presence of bed bugs is revealed at an early stage. Bed bugs can thrive where hygiene standards are poor and housekeeping sloppy.
  • make sure staff are trained in noticing and monitoring the signs of bed bugs and keep training records to demonstrate this.
  • carry out regular checks for signs of bed bugs, this includes looking at bed sheets, pillowcases and mattresses during routine cleaning for any blood spotting (if found this should then be reported to the appropriate person)
  • record when checks are carried out, even if no evidence is found.
  • be made to determine the source of the infestation, so that proper control measures can be taken. The inspection would highlight the extent of the infestation since the measures necessary for control would depend on whether the infestation is established and widely distributed throughout the premises, or recently introduced and likely to be more localised.
  • If an infestation is identified full treatment of the furniture and room by a professional pest control company is advised to ensure a full and safe eradication.

If you have been affected by bed bugs:

  • Many people do not react to bedbug bites or only have the odd spot so you may not need treatment.
  • If you develop itchy bumps, your GP may prescribe mild steroid cream, or your pharmacist can recommend antihistamine tablets. The hard, whitish swellings take up to nine days to appear and then your skin should clear up within a week.

Further guidance

BPCA - bed bug guidance

NHS bed bug advice and treatmen


Published: 25 January 2022

Last updated: 27 May 2022