All businesses and individuals are concerned, though there is often a specific focus placed on catering and food businesses, or health and care organisations such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. However pests of any kind can infest any business – depending on abnormal weather, a delivery from abroad, refuse collection strike or without any specific reason at all as we are now aware, thanks to newspapers publishing on a regular basis articles on rat to human ratio.
Unfortunately the problem is often noticed when it is too late and the infestation is already settled. The last thing a business wants is to have a client notice first the presence of vermin on the premises.
Indeed there are often unplanned overhead expenses for pest control – although in this domain the costs will be far lower for prevention than for treatment.
So what creatures exactly threaten a business? Nuisance can come from rodents (rats, mice), other mammals like rabbits, squirrels and even foxes, crawling or flying insects (wasps, cockroaches, flies, ants...), birds, or even mould.
All of the above carry health and safety risks, spreading harmful germs and bacteria to materials and equipment, goods and people, causing diseases and allergic or respiratory reactions, rashes, etc.
Damage can also be done to buildings and products with rodents happily chewing away electronic equipment, cables and wires, birds nesting and soiling warehouse floors...
Even without contamination, the presence of vermin can distress employees and affect staff motivation.
However, there is another risk: if word on the infestation comes out the company’s reputation will suffer. Obviously the extent of the damage will depend on several factors:
- The nature of the business (e.g. affecting less an agricultural business than a restaurant that needs to keep high hygiene standards in food preparation and storage) but in any case it can have legal repercussions and even cause the business to close
- The type of infestation
- The scale of infestation
Most companies make it a daily task to prevent contamination of any kind through health and safety rules or cleaning measures, and if an infestation was to occur, they would contact a pest control professional to remove infestation.
On the other hand, some businesses will decide to adopt a pro-active strategy, not wanting to wait for an infestation to be discovered to put effective measures into place, and this approach will not only protect the company’s good name and enhance their image, but also generate long-term savings.
These pest control specialists will first audit and inspect the premises inside out to assess the risks and investigate the type of vermin that may enter and check all potential introduction points such as cracks, holes and vents. They will investigate what goods are sold, what raw material comes in, what storage techniques are used etc.
Intendancy will be investigated to find ways to improve and prevent:
- Sanitation: Frequency of cleaning, products used, human habits...
- Rubbish: where is it stored? Is it recycled? How often is it collected?
- Maintenance: state of walls, drains, ventilation, electric systems...
- Storage: Avoiding mess and bulk both in administrative areas and in warehouses
- Surroundings: clean car park, regularly trimmed trees and bushes will reduce the risk of infestation
If an infestation has already occurred, the experts will assess the scale of the infestation and perimeter of action before deciding on the type of response and measures to apply. It is quite difficult to give a price without a thorough assessment of the situation: each case is specific.
There is a wide range of methods to fight pest infestation; remove habitat and proof the company’s premises including:
- Biological elimination (e.g. using the natural predators)
Often, several methods are used simultaneously.
Over a period of time, the experts will check how effective the corrective or preventive measures are and track progress and effectiveness. Their wide outlook on the situation enables them to take the whole picture into account, not just a problem to solve: the human aspect is taken into account, discretion that may be crucial for the business (e.g. not having a pest control van with pictures of rats parked in front of a catering business). They will structure and organise the project enabling the business to avoid fines and legal fees, to be on top of latest compliance and to have compliance-aware and health and safety-trained staff. Following a careful selection of the right suppliers who meet the exact needs of the business and the requirements the experts will monitor the results and evaluate the effectiveness of the measures over time to guarantee a successful project and long-term savings.