An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach is an important component of any successful business plan, regardless of your industry. Pests can infest retail stores, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, hotels, healthcare properties, schools, government buildings, food processing plants and other businesses alike. It’s important to partner with experienced commercial pest control professionals who can help educate your employees about proper pest management.
Here are some of the benefits that can come with educating employees about their responsibility in the pest control process:
Your employees are often the first line of defense against pests, so educating them about pest management and preventive measures can be key in avoiding pest-related problems. Many types of pests can establish large infestations surprisingly quickly, so when workers know how to recognize early signs or are trained in pest prevention methods, your business can be ahead of the curve.
Pest management training can help employees learn how to respond when a pest sighting occurs. It’s important to know the correct steps to take when pests are found, particularly if customers or guests are present.
Related: Commercial Pest Guide: Hibernating Insects
Pest management can also help employees adhere to local, state and federal laws and prevent health code guidelines. Being familiar with pests in your area can help with quick identification, as well as with executing prevention strategies, which can help your business stay in compliance.
Pest management may help your employees improve productivity. Because it’s often easier in the long run to prevent pests than to eliminate an established infestation, knowing what signs to watch for and what steps to take can help your employees work smarter, not harder. In addition to disrupting schedules and efficiency, some pests can contaminate and cause damage to structures, products and equipment, which can be time consuming for employees to address.
Integrated Pest Management vs. Traditional Pest Control
While some traditional pest control plans feature the routine application of chemical treatments, IPM focuses on pest prevention and uses pesticides only where needed. IPM is a multi-strategy prevention and control plan. The steps to an effective IPM program include interior and exterior inspections of the structure, pest identification, recommendations for partnership actions, ongoing monitoring of pest presence and population, implementation of control methods, documentation, and evaluation of the control program.
Partnering with a commercial pest control company includes actions like sanitation, exclusion, and changing cultural behaviors (like putting the trash in the dumpster rather than next to the dumpster, which can attract the rats from tree lines to your structure).
IPM programs also include an education component. A commercial pest control company will work with you and your employees to help teach you what conditions are conducive to pests and how to help prevent pests from becoming an issue. Education is around 30 percent of the IPM process.
Bringing your employees into the pest management loop is a smart business decision. Ask your Terminix® Commercial technician about pest management education for your staff, or get a free quote on commercial pest control services today.
Ask the Entomologist
Stephanie L. Richards, PhD, Medical Entomologist
What can employers do to help prevent pest issues?
Workplaces and other public areas, such as schools and restaurants, should be kept pest free in order to help protect health and promote a productive and safe environment where people congregate. An integrated pest management (IPM) approach, using multiple methods in surveillance-based targeted pest management, is essential in the workplace. This approach can help prevent pests, thereby potentially reducing the need for pesticides. This is especially important in workplaces such as childcare and food preparation facilities to reduce exposure to pests. In common areas where children spend time and play, care should be taken to use IPM approaches and targeted pest control techniques such as traps and baits (or other products that minimize the chance of contact) that are placed away from areas where children are located.
A study carried out in more than 600 child care facilities in California indicated that the following pests were most prevalent:
- Stinging insects
(Bradman et al. 2010).
Another study carried out in 44 childcare centers in California conducted IPM workshops, led by trained public health nurses for employees and directors, provided posters/fact sheets and an IPM toolkit, assessed employee knowledge and checked in once per month to assess IPM practices and help with any potential issues (Alkon et al. 2016). The same study showed more IPM procedures implemented at centers receiving more hours of input from the public health nurses. Facilities with participants scoring well on a post-intervention test about IPM experienced fewer pest issues when assessed at the conclusion of the program (Alkon et al. 2016).
Depending on the type of occupation, employers (or pest management professionals contracted by employers) may provide employees training on pests, including explaining potential routes and risks of pest exposure. For example, employees involved in child care or food preparation should be knowledgeable about pests and pesticides in order to help protect the customers they serve. Employees frequently working outdoors should also be informed about the potential for arthropod exposure (like mosquitoes, ticks and stinging insects such as wasps and fire ants) during their work day.
Education for employees is an important component of any pest management program. An understanding of IPM principles, including basic identification of key public health pests and knowledge of pest biology, is important to maximize prevention of pests, target control measures and promote workplace health and safety. Public and environmental health agencies, as well as pest management companies, can provide information to employers and employees about IPM. Furthermore, a study showed that training and awareness of pest issues improved employees’ attitudes about pest management (Mir et al. 2010). Baseline knowledge can empower employees and promote acceptance of useful pest management policies.
Knowledge of pests is important for employees and can empower individuals interested in understanding and minimizing pest issues. Knowledgeable pest management professionals can be consulted to provide surveillance-based targeted pest control, where needed.
Alkon A, Nouredini S, Swartz A, Sutherland AM, Stephens M, Davidson NA, Rose R (2016) Integrated pest management intervention in child care centers improves knowledge, pest control, and practices. Journal of Pediatric Health Care 30: e27-e41.
Bradman A, Dobson C, Leaonard V, Messenger B (2010) Pest management and pesticide use in California child care centers. Sacramento, CA: The Center for Children’s Environmental Health Research, UC Berkeley School of Public Health. http://apps.cdpr.ca.gov/schoolipm/childcare/pest_mgt_childcare.pdf
Mir DF, Finkelstein Y, Tulipano GD (2010) Impact of integrated pest management (IPM) training on reducing pesticide exposure in Illinois childcare centers. Neurotoxicology 31: 621-626.