Industry News

Practicing pest management safety is easier said than done

By Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.

No company can be prepared for every unforeseen crisis. It is important for pest management professionals to review their safety program regularly and take necessary safety precautions to help reduce the possibility of safety-related crises.

Simply explaining to technicians to follow all pesticide labels and issuing them safety equipment is not best practice as a good safety program.

Consider the following to ensure you are getting the most from your safety program.

Spill Control
It is standard procedure for every vehicle carrying pesticide to have a spill control kit and technicians should be trained on how to properly use it. However, it’s rare that technicians regularly check the kit to see if it is still flakey and can absorb liquid.

When was the last time you checked inside the spill control kit to see if the material was still functional?

Proper Gear
It is important to ensure you have proper gloves depending on the pesticide you are applying. Don’t forget a few important steps when issuing gloves:
    • Issue gloves that will hold up for months
    • Spot check gloves for rips or tears every few weeks or more often if needed
    • Ensure you teach proper rinsing and removal of gloves
In addition to proper gloves, consider the impact of wearing jewelry or watches. It is best not to wear a wrist watch and specifically not one with a leather or fabric strap, which could absorb pesticide. Use your cell phone in place of a watch to help keep track of time.

Storage
It is important to properly store all pesticides at the facility and within the vehicle. Store all pesticides in a proper container that can catch all spills if the original container breaks. It is easy to do, reasonably inexpensive and will save you money cleaning up if a spill does occur.

Proper Mount for Cell Phones
Pest management professionals often check the GPS on their phone for directions. It is important to limit distracted driving and mount cell phones at eye level. Consider purchasing a mount that houses the cell phone higher than seat level and be sure to always keep your eyes on the road.

Vehicle Equipment
Ensure you have the proper equipment in your vehicle at all times. Consider making two separate lists outlining what items are essential to keep in the vehicle. One list is a permanent material list and the other list outlines the products you regularly use and reissue frequently. This will ensure a technician always has a properly equipped vehicle if they ever switch vehicles.

Policy Manual
Consider creating a company policy manual that covers unusual, but possible, pest management hazards and what should be done if they occur. Possible pest management hazards could include:
    • A rat or mouse biting a technician on the job
    • Pesticide concentrate spills on clothing
    • A compressed air sprayer hose bursting inside a structure while treating
      • Note: Turn sprayer upside down immediately and leave the premises
    • A customer saying their dog ate your rodenticide and asking what they should do
    • A technician is stung by numerous stinging insects such as fire ants or bald-faced hornets
Ask for help from your distributor, pesticide manufacturer or fellow pest management professionals for solutions to the above. The National Pest Management Association has a mentor program that can connect you with a company that outlines similar situations and solutions.

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