An educational session on report writing organised by NSW pest managers looks set to be the first of many industry-led seminars. 

Pest managers in Sydney and Newcastle have benefited from a seminar devoted to report writing. Promoted by the Australian Pest Managers Facebook group, the half day seminar focused on writing reports compliant with Australian Standards and learning how to implement better practices, and avoid mistakes and omissions that may impact liability in the event of a claim.

Unfortunately, Covid hit the program with both MPL Training and Wymark Insurance Brokers having to pull out due to illness, but there were still well received presentations from Formitize, Pest Register and Rapid Solutions. The presentations from Formitize and Pest Register focused on the functionality of their software, whilst the presentation from Rapid Solutions focused on how to provide robust reports to help protect against litigation.

A couple of examples were provided to illustrate instances where the claims made against the inspector could not be supported, and others when they were successfully defended. Renee Frawley from Rapid Solutions emphasised that following the current relevant Australian Standards and insurer processes is important as it allows pest managers to be fully supported by their insurer in any litigious situations that might arise. For pre-purchase timber inspections, it is a requirement of the Australian Standard that the customer signs and returns a pre-inspection agreement beforehand.

Ms Frawley provided a number of useful tips. For example, inspectors should not rely entirely on standard wording in reports, and should “tell a story” about the property being inspected by providing as much specific information as possible. Inspectors should also make better recommendations about the need for invasive inspections and the need to install a termite management system as appropriate, and follow up on the recommendations made. Finally, it’s easy to take photos – the more the better – and certainly of any termite damage or conducive conditions.

After lunch, Paul Hosey from Bugs Or Us Pest Control (main picture, right) shared information supplied by Wymark about real-life claim scenarios. This included the amounts claimed, amounts settled and cost of defence along with insights about where the report or inspection could have been improved. Mr Hosey then shared his experiences as an expert witness, which has seen him review plenty of poor inspections and reports over the years. Mr Hosey provided his insights, with good input from attendees. One topic he focused on was the use of additional tools in inspections.

AS 3660.2 provides for the option of carrying out additional tests, in which the use of specialist detection tools is encouraged. Mr Hosey advised that if you decide to use additional detection tools, your report should note what the equipment does/does not do (and the specification of the equipment), whether it was used in the inspection and under what conditions it was used. If equipment wasn’t used or the required equipment was unavailable, you should include recommendations for further inspection using the equipment (with additional cost), if it is necessary.

If you advertise that you use certain equipment but fail to use it in an inspection, it may leave you open to a claim if an issue arises. With regards to thermal cameras, it is important to make sure the thermal camera used is actually fit for purpose.

The seminar was the brainchild of Mr Hosey, who together with Doug Balsom from Serial Pest Control (main pictures, left) drove the organisation and promotion of the event via the Australian Pest Managers Facebook page. The seminar was the first industry-supported event promoted using the social media page.

“This is the first training session we have pulled together and we’ve been extremely happy with the response. We intend to organise additional training sessions on topics of value to pest managers in the future,” said Mr Balsom.

“We would like to thank the main sponsors (Formitize, MPL Training, Pest Register, Rapid Solutions and Wymark), as their support allowed us to provide the seminar for free. We would also like to thank BASF, Exterminex and Sundew Solutions for lucky door prizes.”