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WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN SAFETY CONCERNS?

We know that pest control is a hazardous business, but what are the safety issues that concern pest managers most?

Everyone knows that safety considerations should be their number one priority – and there are a lot of potential safety issues to consider. Before carrying out any treatment, a risk assessment should be done to determine potential risks to the customer, their family and pets, non-targets and the environment, as well as to the operator.

Investigating the top safety concerns for pest managers on the job was the focus of this Pest Pulse, with respondents identifying their top three safety concerns.

The top safety concern for pest managers was potential electrocution in the roof void, with nearly 37% of respondents citing this as one of their top three concerns. Turning off power before entering a roof void is a must, even if customers may not like it – your safety is the number one priority.

The second most common safety concern was around the presence of asbestos, getting a mention from 32% of respondents. Correct personal protective clothing (overalls and masks) provides protection from background asbestos levels, but pest managers should simply not enter areas where loose asbestos insulation has been used or is suspected.

The third most common safety concern was around the application of insecticides with 31% of mentions. Interestingly, mixing pesticides, which often have stricter personal safety equipment requirements, is only seen as a top three concern by less than 10% of pest managers.

Bites from animals aren’t necessarily the top safety concern but get regular mentions. Snake bites are certainly a bigger concern that spider bites or wasp stings, but dog bites/attacks certainly get a few mentions in the ‘other’ concerns.

However, if you look at the results holistically, the roof void is viewed as the biggest area of risk; electrocution, asbestos, insulation concerns, falling through ceilings and heat exhaustion being the big contributors. Certainly, an area of focus and not one to take short-cuts on. As with any enclosed space, if in doubt, don’t enter.

Interestingly, driving is only mentioned as one of the top three safety concerns for 10% of pest managers. Many safety consultants will say that driving is the most dangerous activity anyone can undertake, no matter your profession, so maybe this is worth a closer look. It’s certainly worthwhile to have safe driving guidelines in place and potentially consider safe/defensive driver training courses.

Don’t forget that under workplace, health and safety legislation, companies have a range of obligations including the need to assess risks and implement appropriate measures for controlling them. Typically, this will include ensuring documented WHS procedures are in place and that all employees need to have read and understood these policies and procedures.

www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au

Electrocution in roof 37%
Asbestos 32%
Applying pesticides 31%
Falling from ladders 30%
Heat exhaustion 22%
Falling through ceiling 22%
Electrocution whilst drilling 21%
Dust in roof void 16%
Chemicals in sub-floor 16%
Snake bites 12%
Cuts / puncture wounds 11%
Driving 10%
Mixing pesticides 9%
Irritation from insulations 9%
Falling from roof 6%
Dust in sub-floor 6%
Wasps stings 5%
Spider bites 5%
Other 12%

Table 1: Safety concerns of pest managers

(percentage of respondents mentioning issue in their top three safety concerns)