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New rodent rules may pose a problem for facilities managers

14 April 2014

David Cross, Head of Technical Academy, Rentokil explores the implications of the HSE regulation if it were to be introduced

An important factor for facilities managers (FM) maintaining a safe and healthy environment is through pest and rodent control. However current control methods are at risk from tighter regulation following an assessment by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which could cause problems and raise costs for facilities managers.

The HSE recently produced a consultation document outlining potential changes to the way rodenticides can be used and supplied in the UK, focusing on environmental risk and mitigation measures that could be employed. A ban on non-professionals using rodenticides, restrictions on using these products outdoors, and limits on the length of time that they can they be deployed are just a few examples. These have the potential to make some quite significant changes to the pest control industry.

If limits are placed on the length of time rodenticides can be deployed, facilities managers may have to accept that costs will rise due to more frequent visits from pest controllers. The mandatory use of locked bait-boxes is also something which may cause FMs’ further headaches. However, FMs who hire external pest contractors will experience little change, as it’s the contractors’ responsibility to ensure that their staff are fully trained and up-to-speed on new legislation, and the service they deliver should not be affected. 

If legislation were to pass which only allows pest controllers to deploy toxic bait, then FMs would have to be extremely vigilant to spot the first signs of rodents and call a pest controller as soon as possible. By putting all the pest control measures into the hands of the contractor, facilities managers will need to be extra cautious - eliminating anything from the site (like litter) that might be attractive to rodents. FMs may even go to the extent of changing the landscape around their site, as low shrubs and bushes are the perfect nesting place for these creatures.

For FMs who conduct their own pest control, the changes will be far more noticeable. A possible ban on baiting outside of premises means that using rodenticides as preventative measure will be a thing of the past. It is important to remember that failure to adhere to the new guidelines carry some strict penalties. Hefty fines and also expulsion from professional bodies are quite common. These penalties can apply not only to the FM themselves but also to their employer, should it be deemed that they have been given insufficient training. Our advice to any end-user FM who is unsure about the new legislation would be to contact a pest control specialist for guidance.

Ultimately whilst these changes may take some getting used to, they will prevent any potential damaging effects which these pesticides may have on the local environment. As with previous regulatory changes, pest controllers will adapt and find new ways of doing their job successfully. What they will also do is increase the level of professionalism within the industry, which is to be welcomed. The substances we use are potentially harmful to both humans and non-pest species, so it is vital that the people administering them are trained professionals who understand best practice and the risks involved.

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