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31 October 2022

New Code of Best Practice - drain surveys

TECHNICAL | PPC109 October 2022

BPCA teamed up with drain survey experts Davy Brown and David Lodge, to provide a new Code of Best Practice on carrying out drain surveys for pest activity.

In this article, Davy Brown gives an overview of what the new Code contains and its uses.

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There are now more pest management professionals carrying out drain works than ever, ranging from drain survey inspections through to basic drain repairs and the installation of rat blocker valves.

There are several reasons for this increase. Firstly, social media has allowed specialist contractors to showcase their work and pest controllers can see what can be achieved with the correct equipment and techniques.

Improved training on the subject has given many pest controllers the confidence to branch out and undertake their own surveys. 

And lastly, an abundance of cheap, often substandard equipment available on the web has unfortunately tempted many to add a drainage service to their existing pest control business.

The National Association of Drainage Contractors (NADC) has worked with the British Pest Control Association for a couple of years, as the two industries slowly but surely merge in this vital area of rodent investigation works.

Through this collaboration, a Code of Best Practice will soon be published so that the works are done with consideration of effectiveness, safety, and professionalism in mind. 

Topics covered in the COBP include:

Health and safety

Drains and sewers are obviously not the nicest of places and there are real dangers involved in this kind of work, to both the contractor and their clients, so risk assessment is vital.

The risks include working in confined spaces, working at height, flood, drowning, explosion and disease. Only trained and competent contractors should be undertaking these works.

Drain survey reporting

It is important that the client is made aware of what kind of survey and report they are going to receive, along with a clear pricing structure at the quote stage. It is recommended that all surveys are recorded and the customer receives video files, data sheets of each run surveyed, a colour-coded site plan and a written report. 

There are numerous software packages available that will assist in putting together professional-looking and detailed reports.

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The COBP requires all contractors have the relevant insurances in place to cover the works they undertake.

Many pest control contractors may be operating under their original policy set up with pest control in mind, with no amendments for the undertaking of drainage inspection and repair, or the risks that these activities pose to them, their staff, clients, or their client’s property. 

Rat blocker valves

There has been a major increase in the use of rat blocker valves in the last ten years, which more than anything highlights the need for the COBP with regards to rodent related drainage works. 

The installation of these valves will in most cases involve confined space works, and yes, hanging upside down in a metre deep chamber to install a valve is confined space working! 

This is often undertaken by lone workers who have not assessed the risks involved.

Drainage law

It is vital that any contractors, working in and around the sewer and drainage network, have full knowledge of drainage law and ownership.

Large sections of the network come under the jurisdiction of the water companies (sewerage undertakers) and only they or their appointed contractors can clean, inspect, and repair these sections.

Drain repairs

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Most customers will expect whoever undertakes a successful drain survey inspection to then provide them with a permanent solution to their problem and this will often require a drain repair.

Special thanks to Joe Strong from Beaver and David Rambridge from NADC for working with us on the Code.

The new Code will be available to read in full soon. All BPCA Codes of Best Practice are freely available on the BPCA website. Remember that BPCA Codes of Best Practice must be followed by BPCA member companies for them to remain compliant.

About the author

Davy Brown is co-owner of and sits on the training committee for the National Association of Drainage Contractors. He also wrote the Drain and Sewer Pest Awareness Course, which he delivers on behalf of Killgerm Chemicals.

The National Association of Drainage Contractors

The National Association of Drainage Contractors offer a full suite of training for those operating in or looking to operate in this arm of the industry. Through The National Drainage Academy they offer detailed training courses in: excavation and repair methods; certified drain surveying; confined space training; safety, health and environmental awareness (SHEA) – drains and sewers; and more.

National Drainage Academy

Energy and Utility Skills Register

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