Termite Management: What Does ‘Best Practice’ Mean?

In termite management work, documentation will often refer to ‘best practice’ methods. James Wallace, Manager at Wymark Insurance Brokers explains what this really means.

James Wallace, Wymark Insurance Brokers
James Wallace, Wymark Insurance Brokers

As we are all aware, termite management work can be litigious, and contractual liability must be considered. The greatest defence against a claim of negligence is to ensure that your work procedures and documentation adhere to current ‘best practice’. But what does best practice actually mean when it comes to termite inspections and termite treatments?

To comply with best practice in termite management, your work must be conducted in an appropriate and workmanlike manner. A ‘workmanlike manner’ means to complete work skilfully, adequately, and following industry standards. You must also comply with all applicable federal, state, and territory legal requirements, including, where applicable, current Australian Standard publications. In a nutshell, best practice means that your work is correct, effective and of the highest quality.

However, some legal definitions go further:

Industry Best Practice means the standards (including any relevant Australian Standard), practices and methods generally followed by and that degree of skill and diligence that would ordinarily be expected of a skilled and experienced contractor in the course of supplying goods and services similar to the Goods and Services.


Essentially this means that a pest manager carrying out ‘best practice’ termite management not only needs to follow the practices and methods used by a skilled and experienced operator but needs to apply these skills at the professional level expected of them.


So, what are these best practices and skills?

Firstly, the pest manager must be licensed to carry out timber pest work, i.e. they have completed and passed the appropriate training. Secondly, they need to have accumulated the necessary experience to demonstrate they are skilled to carry out termite inspections and treatments to ‘best practice’ levels. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, the pest manager needs to document that they have carried out the inspections and treatments to ‘best practice’ levels.

In many situations the documentation is the only evidence of how the inspections and treatments have been carried out, so it needs to be comprehensive and accurate. It is also crucial that the documentation used is of the highest quality i.e. that it has been independently verified for technical accuracy by a recognised third party and is subject to ongoing legal reviews.

For termite inspection reports, it is vital to note what was and wasn’t inspected, especially noting areas that were inaccessible (with the report recommending access be gained to complete the inspection). Taking photos of every room and inspection area, even if they aren’t all included in the report, provides an important record of the termite inspection. If the house does not have a termite management system installed, recommending the installation of a suitable system is clearly best practice termite management.

In terms of treatment documentation, when performing termite management on an extant structure, you may complete a termite management plan in accordance with Australian Standard AS 3660.2-2017. However, Clause 4.2 of AS 3660.2-2017 also indicates that a termite management plan is not a work quotation.

In order to fulfil your contractual obligations, the preliminary termite management plan can be incorporated into a comprehensive written Termite Management Proposal and Agreement that commits the parties contractually. The Proposal and Agreement describes the agreed upon scope of work, associated costs, and each party’s responsibilities. In addition, it specifies any ongoing service requirements, such as a free service period, as well as any terms and conditions associated with the work and contract. All parties must sign the Proposal and Agreement.

When carrying out the termite treatment, ensure that the product used is registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) and that it is applied in accordance with the approved label – and that this information is documented.

Although Australian Standards is a key reference document for best practice, the AEPMA Code of Best Practice for Termite Management will also be a point of reference should a case end up in court. Pest managers should be familiar with both documents.

In conclusion, insurance is not an excuse for substandard work or improper documentation. To ensure that your insurance is effective in the event of a claim, your work procedures and documentation must reflect what is presently considered best practice.


James Wallace, Manager, Wymark Insurance Brokers

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