Richard Moseley, Technical Manager from the British Pest Control Association takes you through the consequences of pest infestations and how to manage the risk

1. Reputation

Reputations can be ruined and businesses destroyed if pest activity is allowed to develop in hospitality venues. Media and social networking sites rapidly pick up on and report about pest infestations, throwing organisations into the media limelight without always considering the facts. Turnover and occupancy levels can be seriously damaged by adverse publicity. Always remember that pests and pest activity is of general interest to many members of the public, and media coverage can be sudden and intense.

2 Legislation

If it is your site or business, it is probably your responsibility to deal with the control and eradication of pests. If you do not manage pest activity in your premises, you can be forced to control rodent pests by local authorities under the terms of The Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949. Local authorities can also deal with insect infestations under the terms of the Public Health Act 1936/1961, and where infested or contaminated food is served by eating establishments, prosecution is possible under the Food Safety Act 1990.

3 Disease

Always remember that there is an associated health risk with many pests, and those that spread diseases are termed ‘public health’ pests. Rats for example carry a number of diseases including Weil’s disease (Leptospirosis), an infection that presents with flu-like symptoms that can prove fatal. Common house flies carry a number of pathogens, as do cockroaches. The damage done to a reputation from a customer’s serious illness or death is immeasurable.

4 Damage

Not only can pests damage foodstuffs and stored goods, they can also damage the fabric and fixtures of buildings. Rodents are especially problematic in this respect as their incisor teeth grow throughout their life, and they mustgnaw to wear them down. Items that can typically be gnawed are electrical wiring and water tanks, leading to fires, flooding and the risk of electrocution. Insurers may be less than willing to pay out compensation for damage done by an uncontrolled rodent infestation.

5 Secondary

Infestation You may not be aware that having one pest species can just be the tip of the iceberg. Some pest infestations lead on to additional problems with insects or animals taking advantage of conditions created by the first invader. Foxes for example may overturn waste bins, and the spillage they cause may then encourage rodents and even fly maggots if waste is left unattended. Secondary infestation is also incredibly common when bird activity is present. Flies, beetles, fabric-damaging moth, mites and bugs can all be associated with bird infestation. Bird nesting sites should always be cleared and sealed to ensure that the areas below don’t become a hive of activity for insects associated with our feathered friends.

6 Managing the risk

The most productive way to manage the risks posed by pest activity is to ensure that a proactive pest control contract is in place with a contractor who is trained to recognise and control potential pest activity and infestation without putting the customer and their premises at risk. BPCA would always advise pest control customers to use an approved BPCA member to ensure that they are receiving a suitable and safe service.