Personal Protective Equipment

What’s the Scoop on Pigeon Poop?

Workers need PPE to protect against all kinds of hazards. Of course, your employees probably don’t need protection against pigeon poop. But since you never know…

A visitor to recently posed an intriguing question in our “Ask the Expert” feature. It went like this:

City employees need to access a confined space in a pedestrian bridge to work on an electrical conduit. Pigeons have gotten into this space, leaving feces and other debris. What PPE should these employees be provided?

Our high-flying experts informed the questioner that pigeon droppings can expose workers to serious conditions, including histoplasmosis and cryptococcosis. Citing a NIOSH publication, they noted that disposable protective clothing and shoe coverings should be worn whenever regular work clothing and shoes might be contaminated with dust-containing, disease-carrying spores. Wearing such clothing can reduce or eliminate the likelihood of transferring spore-contaminated dust to places away from work, like a car or one’s home.

When spore-contaminated material is likely to fall from overhead, NIOSH recommends that workers wear disposable protecting clothing with hoods. They should also use disposable shoe coverings with ridged soles made of slip-resistant material to reduce the likelihood of slipping on wet or dusty surfaces.

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After working in such an environment and before removing respirators, personnel should remove all protective clothing and shoe coverings and seal them in heavy-duty plastic bags for disposal in a landfill.

Using the proper PPE to tackle pigeon poop in a confined space can impede essential sweat evaporation. NIOSH recommends taking precautions to control heat stress in these situations. For example, when protective clothing is needed, wearing a lightweight, cotton coverall would create less of a heat-stress risk than wearing a chemical-resistant suit. Workers should know the symptoms of heat-stress-related conditions and be able to take measures before serious problems develop.

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Whether it’s information about cleaning up pigeon poop or information about more mainstream workplace safety and health concerns, you’ll find it all reported and interpreted for you by our safety experts at

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