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Pest Busters

All of these benefits and improvements are allowing Mitie to get on the front foot in the war against pests.

“With the technology available today, pest control can be much more effective and less time-consuming. Companies can protect themselves from potential prosecution by having a real-time record of pest management, and KPIs can be used to drive continual improvement.

“The data management capability also enables benchmarking across sites, so that problem areas can be identified and dealt with efficiently. Managers can be confident knowing the pest control status of each site and can direct investment or training where it is most needed.

“some years ago pest control was a mainly reactive, we now have the ability to stay a step ahead, maintaining the highest hygiene standards and being far more protected from enforcement action. Furthermore, IT systems are constantly evolving, meaning that they should be continuously fit-for-purpose. A small investment saves your company massively in both time and risk.”

So those are the benefits of online, real-time pest control. But what can the actual human FM do to limit the risk of an infestation?

Paul Bates, managing director of Cleankill, gives us his advice.

Bates points out though, that perhaps through FMs underestimating what goes into pest control, they can be the architects of many of their own problems;

“Pest control is often a peripheral service but, if you get it wrong, the consequences can be very serious for the tenants in you building which in turn could cause problems for FMs,” he explains. “FMs sometimes choose their contractor based on price but when things go wrong they quickly realise that they made the wrong choice.

“Normal contracts for standard premises will include a minimum of eight inspections a year. Factories producing high-risk food or manufacturing pharmaceuticals will require more frequent visits. The inspections should include all common areas such as: plant rooms; basements; riser cupboards; car parks and landscaped areas – all of the areas where pests could harbour and reproduce undisturbed.”

Pest control is generally a small proportion of most overall facilities budgets, but the impact of getting it wrong can be widespread. News of a pest infestation in your premises can spread in minutes, leaving customers scurrying away, staff fretting and your establishment’s reputation in tatters.

Anxious to stretch budgets, many facilities managers have fallen foul of what looks like a cheap quote from a large firm only to find they are constantly being ‘upsold’ additional services at the slightest sign of a problem and their spend on pest control begins to spiral.

Another key piece of advice from Bates is that facilities managers shouldn’t allow procurement staff to ‘bundle services’ in order to save time and money as bundling can lead to a range of problems.

“Services that are often bundled with pest control include cleaning and landscaping. The difficulties arise when the teams involved in these aspects of facilities actually cause the pest infestations through poor cleaning or leaving vegetation unmanaged. I strongly advise against ‘bundling’. I know many FMs who have tried it and have reverted back to separate contracts. Initially it may seem easier to have one contract for all the services, but it rarely works well.

“No commercial, retail or industrial property can ever be guaranteed pest free. Modern building techniques like using stud partitioning, breeze blocks, false flooring and main service voids, often lend themselves to creating the perfect harbourages for pests.

“A mouse can get in through a gap the width of a pencil, cockroaches can be brought in on cardboard packaging, fleas may be picked up on public transport, pigeons will make the most of those wonderfully designed architectural ledges on the outsides of buildings – and flies will just fly in!

“So what should the FMs be doing to limit the risk of pest infestations?”

Proofing against mice is never the be all and end all, but should be looked at as part of the overall integrated pest control system. Effective proofing will restrict rather than be a complete ‘NO ENTRY’ to mice.

Bristle stripping the bottom of doors, especially external doors and riser cupboard doors, should restrict movement and keep the rodents out of the office areas. Rat valves fitted into drains are very effective at stopping rodents entering premises through the drains.

Checking the external airbricks and weep holes and putting specially designed covers on them, if necessary, should be another regular inspection. Bird spikes onto ledges, as well as the girders beneath fire escapes and parapets, will stop pigeons messing on steps and walkways. Netting on lightwells prevents birds gaining access into sheltered areas at the back of buildings. This is critical as a host of problems can be caused when pigeon numbers build up. They bring with them other pest problems such as bird mite, fleas and flies. Fouling blocks gutters, downpipes and air-conditioning intakes. Bird-free gel, which appears as flames to birds, complements other bird control methods extremely well.

Install fly-control units in kitchenettes, catering areas, bin rooms and delivery bays to catch the flies before they enter the building. Glue board units are generally preferred to ‘sparking’ units, as the glue ensures that bacteria do not get inadvertently dispersed out of the unit while a flying insect is electrocuted. The glue-board units that can be moved around affected offices, particularly in those offices that suffer from the Autumn cluster flies.

In America fly screens are fitted to windows as a matter of course. In the UK, it is still only catering premises where screens are commonly fitted. Fly screens can be an excellent way of maintaining a through air flow while restricting pest access.

About Sarah OBeirne


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