04 May 2020

Beating resistance, not just from the rats...

Mike Ayers, Director of Precision Pest Management and BPCA Executive Board Member shares his thoughts on why it’s now more important than ever, for BPCA members to mobilise and consider the bigger picture of pest control, and join the Be Protected. Professionally. campaign.

In my opinion, government and regulators often run on similar lines to any management executive. If it isn’t broken, then there are lots of other more pressing things to do rather than try and ‘fix’ it but when it is broken or at least appears to be with big press headlines then the tendency for the knee jerk reaction kicks in and we get unworkable regulation that makes our lives difficult. 

A good example of this is the response to the shooting of a bird in a supermarket which was splashed over the press, questions asked in parliament and we now have more restrictions from DEFRA over what can be shot or not. This is the same in pest control and the use of pesticides. Regulation and restriction generally come out of problems that have arisen because someone hasn’t done their job properly either because they are cutting corners or just incompetent. 

I have seen the codes of practice for pest control from the main retail companies get tighter and tighter over the years in the response to failures to do the job properly. The most demanding on us as pest controllers was the 48 hour follow up regime imposed by one then other retailers. This isn’t technically necessary but was a punitive imposition because pest controllers weren’t doing their job properly and not following up either at all or well enough to deal with the infestation. The cost of this blanket imposition to us as pest control providers has been enormous over the years. The problem here is not how often the technician visits but what they do each time.  

In my job as a consultant as well as a practicing pest controller I come across infestations where the follow ups have been conducted to the letter of the ‘law’ but the mouse infestation has been persistent and getting out of hand. One site I visited had had over 150 visits over the year and nearly as many the previous year. This wasn’t good for anyone and runs a serious risk of generating tolerance to the active ingredients. We managed to clear the problem with a thorough weekly visit over 2-3 months. It is no wonder that resistance builds up because, remembering my lessons from John Bull of Rentokil: Mice become resistant to poor service first and the chemicals soon after.

Fortunately, I think the retail companies are seeing the light and the codes of practice becoming less prescriptive on what we should do and more interested in the result. There are very good commercial benefits to being competent. Technicians work safer, more efficiently and more effectively. The competent pest controller will generally win and retain more contracts even at a higher and probably more realistic price.

As a board member, I can say that BPCA, via the Committees and Working groups is committed to improving the professionalism of the membership and enable its members to stand out from the crowd, to ensure that truly professional pest controllers are the first choice for those in need of pest control services. By delivering services ‘properly’ the pest control industry will prove more profitable, work safer, reduce the risk of resistance and further regulation. 

It is important that members are equipped to be able to use language and visual aids to support this position, and is why the Be Protected. Professionally. campaign is there. Members should look to engage the BPCA logo in all that they do, but more than that, convey to the customer what being protected, professionally, means i.e. what being a BPCA member really represents.

To maximise our messages, I encourage you to consider hosting the following information in and around your company’s presence, online and offline, and in conversations with customers. But, most of all please consider the reasons why professionalism is so important to our industry – to ensure we can continue, and develop, our role in society of protecting public health with the appropriate ‘tools’ for the job.

Be protected. Professionally. 

  • Pass regular audits against the British Standard EN16636 for pest management*
  • Abide by BPCAs strict industry Codes of Best Practice
  • Provide detailed advice on pest prevention measures 
  • Perform a survey before starting work or providing a final quote
  • Have at least £2 million public and products liability insurance
  • Protect staff, customers and members of the public through risk and COSHH assessments
  • Only employ technicians who meet or exceed the industry standard qualifications

*from Jan 2019.

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