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DON’T GET LAZY WITH SAFETY!

It pays to make safety a top priority as pest management is an industry fraught with potential hazards. 

Safety procedures are in place to protect your health. Ignoring procedures may put your health at risk and could potentially invalidate any personal injury insurance.

We all know safety should be our number one priority, but every now and then it crosses our minds to be a bit lazy or take a shortcut. When this happens, that’s the time to stop, take a moment to snap out of it and follow the required safety procedures. Safety measures are precautions to minimise risk, and in situations of unknown hazards it is doubly important to gear up.

Mixing and application of pesticides are obvious tasks when the appropriate safety gear should be worn and risk assessments carried out, but there are other areas where pest managers sometimes overlook the potential safety issues.

Roof voids can be dangerous on a number of counts. Firstly, to eliminate the electrocution risk, the power should be turned o before entering the roof void – this doesn’t only apply to roof voids with foil insulation. Ensure it doesn’t get turned on when you are inside and avoid areas around any solar cables or exposed conductive parts such as guttering and metal sheeting.

The dangers from dust and insulation fibres are well known – overalls, gloves and respirators are a must. Head covering and goggles are advised. And the risk of heat stress in the warmer months is significant. Remember that working in a roof void is essentially a lone worker situation. If you do not have a work colleague present, there should be someone else present in the building.

Subfloors may not have the electrical dangers of the roof void, but dust and asbestos issues are still relevant. Additionally, older properties may well have been treated with more toxic insecticides, such as organochlorines. Cuts and bruises from sharps and building timbers, in both the roof void and subfloor, are a potential hazard. Wearing gloves and knee pads (soft gel type for roof voids, hard type for subfloors) is essential and a hard hat may also be an option.

Remember you should not be entering subfloors with less than 400mm clearance and roof voids need an access hole of at least 400mm x 500mm with crawl space of 600mm x 600mm. If you enter areas with less clearance you increase your risk and of getting stuck and causing injury.

The disease danger when dealing with pest infestations, especially for cockroaches, birds and rodents, should not be overlooked. Cockroaches carry diseases such as Salmonella, dysentery, and polio, and their faeces and shed skins carry a large amount of allergens, known to cause asthma. Bird faeces carry Salmonella, psittacosis and some fungal diseases and rodents carry diseases such as leptospirosis and typhus fever.

The recommended clean-up process for rodents is well documented and can easily be adapted to birds and cockroaches:

  • Wear gloves and respirator
  • DO NOT sweep or vacuum as this puts material into the air
  • Spray urine and droppings with disinfectant
  • Clean up with paper towels and dispose in the garbage
  • Mop and clean floors and hard surfaces with disinfectant
  • Steam clean any carpets or upholstery
  • Wash any bedding and clothes
  • DO NOT sweep or vacuum as this puts material into the air
  • Spray urine and droppings with disinfectant
  • Clean up with paper towels and dispose in the garbage
  • Mop and clean floors and hard surfaces with disinfectant
  • Steam clean any carpets or upholstery
  • Wash any bedding and clothes
  • Wash hands thoroughly and wash/dispose of overalls and gloves

Lastly, driving is an often overlook hazard and it is probably the most dangerous activity pest managers undertake. Following the road rules and avoiding mobile phone use are not only good from a safety point of view, but when you are driving around in a vehicle branded with your company name, poor driving can be bad for business. Conversely, considerate driving – a thank you or wave or two – will make an impression and could pick up some new customers.