Pest Control and Business Owner Responsibilities

All business owners have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their staff and customers. Unfortunately, while office buildings, food service premises, hospitality locations (hotels, hostels, B&Bs, etc.), healthcare establishments and other working environments are usually only designed to be inhabited by humans, they can become the permanent base for a variety of common pest species, including rats, mice and insects. These animals cause damage, create health and safety hazards and are carriers of diseases, viruses and bacteria – all of which they can spread to humans via their fur, feet, droppings, urine and saliva. Businesses have a duty of care to maintain a clean, safe and pest-free environment at all times. As such, they are expected to invest in professional commercial pest control services to ensure the early detection, prevention and control of pests on their premises.

Pest Species and the Diseases They Carry

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No matter what type of business you run, the threat of infestation is present at all times. The fact of the matter is that as we have designed and built buildings to be safe and comfortable for humans, we have provided equally hospitable environments for pest species as well. Rats and mice will enter a building for warmth, food and safety from predators, or to scavenge materials to build their nests. Insects thrive on man-made materials, while cockroaches are attracted to food, moisture and shelter.

All types of business premises provide these things in abundance, rendering commercial pest control services essential to ensure compliance with ever-tightening legislation and to prevent the spread of disease.

Rats and Mice

Together, rats and mice are known to carry over thirty different diseases which are dangerous to humans. These include Weil’s disease (leptospirosis), typhus (spread by the lice, mites and fleas in the rodents’ fur), salmonella and hantavirus. These diseases can be spread to humans directly through handling of either live or dead animals, through contact with urine, faeces or saliva, or through bites. They can also spread indirectly via the various parasites – ticks, lice, etc. – the rodents carry.

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Cockroaches are scavengers. They will eat all types of organic matter, including fresh food and meat, as well as decaying matter and sewage. Such feeding habits mean cockroaches pick up and carry a number of communicable diseases on their travels and will contaminate any surfaces and foodstuffs they come into contact with – including those for human consumption. Cockroaches are known to transmit bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli and other types of human pathogens. Cockroach infestations are difficult to spot. They are nocturnal creatures, only emerging from their hiding places at night to go on the hunt for food. As such, commercial pest control services from qualified and experienced professionals are required to eliminate them.

Bed Bugs

Though bed bugs are not known to spread disease, they nonetheless feed on human blood. This means that they bite through skin, which can lead to severe irritation and itching, opening up the possibility of secondary skin infections.

Pest Control Legislation

Business owners need to be aware of the legislation surrounding pest control and what responsibilities they have in preventing infestations.

The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 creates a duty on local authorities to control mice and rats and has implications for landlords, landowners and all businesses that handle food. It gives local authorities the power to require landowners and business owners to control rodent infestations on their land and in their premises. There are two parts to the Act – Part One covers rats and mice, while Part Two covers infestation of food.

Under Part One, the legislation states that it is the duty of the local authorities to “enforce the duties of owners and occupiers of land, to carry out such operations to rid their land of the potential hazard causing pests.” Under Part Two, the Act states that it is the responsibility of any person whose business includes “the manufacture, storage, transport or sale of food to inform the local authorities if there is any evidence of infestation to food.” In addition, any person whose business consists of “the manufacture, sale, repair or cleaning of food containers” must also give notice to the authorities if evidence of pest infestation is found.

If infestations are not remedied, the Act gives authorities the power to prohibit a business’s operations and for contaminated food stocks and all other equipment to be destroyed. In all cases, by far the best and most effective remedies will be those administered professionally via commercial pest control services.

Further legislation that governs businesses that either serve, sell or otherwise handle food includes the EU’s Regulation No. 852/2004 On the Hygiene of Foodstuffs. The legislation states that food premises are to “permit good food hygiene practices, including protection against contamination and, in particular, pest control.” On the matter of food waste: “Adequate provision is to be made for the storage and disposal of food waste, non-edible by-products and other refuse. Refuse stores are to be designed and managed in such a way as to enable them to be kept clean and, where necessary, free of animals and pests.”

In the UK, the regulatory framework concerning pest control on food premises is based on the Food Standards Act 1990 and the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 made under it. Responsibilities to business owners regarding pest control are made clear as follows: “The siting, design and construction must aim to avoid contamination of food and harbouring of pests. It must be kept clean and in good repair so as to avoid food contamination. It must provide appropriate facilities for personal hygiene. All reasonable, practical steps to avoid the risk of contamination of food or ingredients must be made. There must be a hot and cold water supply and adequate arrangements for storage and disposal of waste.”

In addition, food law requires the implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. These include regular monitoring for signs of pests and situations that may lead to or increase the risk of pest infestations; taking pest control action to remove the source of infestation; and keeping records of pest incidences and the measures used to prevent, monitor and control infestations.

Commercial Pest Control Services

Knowing the law is one thing – staying on the right side of it by complying with all legislation is another. Responsibility clearly lies with business owners to take the necessary measures to constantly monitor their premises for signs of pests, stay on top of maintenance issues that may lead to pest infestations, maintain a clean and hygienic environment with sound refuse and food waste procedures and take corrective action as soon as possible should the presence of pests be detected. With the wide range of diseases pests carry, pest control is a matter of public health and safety – which is precisely what pest control legislation is designed to protect.
To ensure compliance, it’s imperative that businesses utilise commercial pest control services from reputed and experienced professionals. Baroque Pest Services has over 30 years’ experience delivering commercial pest control services for businesses in a wide range of industries. Get in contact today for a free quotation.

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