By Hope Bowman
Pests in the healthcare environment can do more than harm your reputation; pests can actually pose health threats to your staff and patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rodents such as rats and mice are known to spread more than 35 diseases worldwide, including Salmonella, Hantavirus and even E. coli. Cockroaches can carry an average of 33 different bacteria that can lead to life-threatening diseases and cause allergic reactions or trigger asthma symptoms. To combat pest threats in your facility, you not only need to implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, but get your entire staff on board with your IPM program.
Staff participation is the key to any successful IPM program as they are your first line of defense against pest activity in your facility. But in order to be successful on the front lines, they need support in the form of education and communication. Educate your staff about the type of pests to be on the lookout for, the threats they pose, how to prevent them and the places where they can be found, and be sure to keep an open line of communication with them about your pest management program and any pest issues that arise.
Following are several tips you can use to help get your staff more involved in your pest management program.
Host a training session
Work with your pest management provider to conduct an on-site training session and teach your staff about pest behavior, conditions that attract pests and IPM best practices for prevention and maintenance. Many pest control providers offer free training sessions and may even have tip sheets and other educational resources available for your staff.
Once your staff understands IPM and the pests that pose a threat to your facility, they will be more likely to do their part. Remember, your staff can play an important role in detecting early signs of pest activity. However, they can’t do so if they don’t know what they are looking for.
Develop a pest sighting protocol
Understanding pest behavior and the conditions that attract pests is just one piece of the puzzle. Your staff should also understand who to contact and what steps to take should any pest issues arise. To do this, consider establishing a pest sighting protocol that identifies key employees and a clear communications process for reporting a pest incident. A pest sighting protocol may include some of the following steps:
- Catch any pest seen around the facility so your pest management professional can determine the type of pest active on your property.
- Document when and where the pest was seen.
- Assist the pest management professional as he/she determines how the pest gained access.
To avoid confusion among your team, assign each member of your staff a specific pest management role. These roles can be determined based on their existing daily responsibilities. In addition to assigning specific roles, be sure to reinforce that all staff members are responsible for cleaning up after themselves. Bad habits, such as poorly maintained staff lockers, can also be the root of pest issues.
Document and Communicate
Your pest management provider should document and communicate any observations of pests in your facility after each service visit. It’s important to have written documentation of all pest sightings, as well as pest control actions. All reports should be reviewed by your facility representative and discussed with key members of your staff to ensure everyone is aware of any pest activity in the facility.
Remember, pest prevention is a team effort. Work with your pest management provider to get your entire staff on board with your IPM program. With your support and a little education, your staff can serve as your first line of defense against pests.
Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and board-certified entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New-Jersey based pest management company serving residential and commercial customers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Learn more about Western by visiting www.westernpest.com.