Correctly managing risk and having a workplace safety procedure in place are just two ways for pest managers to protect themselves while on the job.
Pest managers face a range of risks on a day to day basis. Unfortunately, I see the consequences of pest managers who don’t take workplace health and safety risks seriously. A workplace incident can have a devastating effect on a pest manager’s personal life as well as significant financial impact. For instance, it is not that uncommon for a technician to fall through a roof void or inadvertently cause an excess chemical spray accident, either of which can have serious consequences.
It goes without saying that the best form of mitigating risks, and protecting your business, is insurance. Risk management plays an enormous part in assessing insurance premiums – by identifying and taking positive action to reduce risks, you reduce the exposure to your business and to your insurer. A client who has made several claims becomes a higher risk for an insurance company, which in turn affects the calculation of their insurance premiums. So it makes sense to manage your risks, because it will protect the reputation of your business and more importantly, may end up saving you money.
There are several ways pest managers can minimise their exposure to risk. Firstly, provide your technicians with suitable training in the use of the equipment and materials that are being used. All technicians need to be able to determine whether non-chemical treatment can be used to control the pests in any given job. If a chemical is to be used, they must know how best to limit the risk to themselves, other people, pets and the environment.
Your role as the pest manager is to ensure the choice of chemical is appropriate for the task and situation and to provide the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure you and your employees are properly protected from hazardous materials.
Properly store and maintain tools and equipment to avoid accidents. Broken equipment could be an additional cost to a potential costly claim, especially for specialised equipment such as a thermal imaging camera. Faulty or poorly maintained equipment can lead to safety or environmental incidents and a claim or could result in large fines or prosecution by government authorities.
Many situational risks can be mitigated by following an established procedure. When you arrive at a location, quickly identify what might cause an issue and document it. While on the job, technicians should be following a workplace health and safety policy that clearly identifies each person’s responsibilities while on site and after the job is completed.
Have a procedure in place in case a homeowner makes a complaint or lodges a dispute, so you and your staff know exactly what to do and what to say or not say. If a homeowner makes a claim against you, it is important to let your insurer’s claims team know immediately so they can investigate the claim comprehensively and without bias. It is worth noting that notifying your insurer of an incident does not automatically mean it becomes a claim; if it is not a claim, then it will not affect your insurance premium.
No one wants to be in the situation where they have to make a claim, but if you do, make sure you advise your insurance agent as soon as possible. It is the job of your insurer to support you through the process.
To protect yourself in the long term, make sure you are adequately covered by your insurance policy and that it is the best policy for your business.
Gary Byrne, Technical Manager, Rapid Solutions