Managing a business is enough of a challenge without having to deal with disease spreading, unwanted pests. Pests come in many shapes and sizes; rats, mice, cockroaches, flies, ants and many more. They thrive in towns and cities where the population is denser, giving them easy access to food and shelter.
Pests of all kinds can soon become an infestation. The biggest group causing problems for businesses is rodents. And this is not just true for food businesses. Rats are pretty much a fact of city life and they reproduce at a considerable rate. Whether you are co-working in a large shared space or you are running an office the issues are the same and the pests themselves don’t discriminate. If fact, it is often larger shared spaces where lots of different people are in and out without taking proper care to clean up that can face more issues.
Pests are a threat to your business through the physical damage they can do to your property and goods. Rat incisors grow continually and can be worn down on all materials from concrete to electrical wires, ultimately causing a fire risk. But more importantly they also carry a range of diseases and parasites and can be a major risk to human health. Pests can be hugely costly, in terms of your money and your reputation. Wherever possible, prevention is the best policy.
London pest expert, Mark Stanford from Empire Pest Control says, “The impact of a pest infestation can be quite overwhelming. It’s really important to act fast and thoroughly if you notice any signs. Even better, ensure you have as many precautions in place as you can.”
Preventing Pests: Hygiene standards
With a food businesses, the most likely to attract pests, the Food Standards Agency has requirements of which managers will be aware, having to undergo training. But many companies have some kind of kitchen area, and even if you don’t, you still need to ensure you are doing everything to keep your environmental health standards high. Make sure all parts of your premises are regularly and systematically cleaned. Vacuum regularly and in as many corners and crevices as possible. Keep surfaces clean and as clear.
Kitchen areas / Food traces
You need to ensure that you are not leaving any kind of unnoticed welcome mat. Keep your place clear from food debris of any kind. Ensure that crumbs and remains are not collecting somewhere, out of your sight, but not out of the sniff of a hungry rodent. Food storage must be done carefully and properly. Anything kept at floor level should be in a secure place, or metal and glass containers. Plastic, cardboard and other softer containers should be off the ground as well as being in a rat free place.
Water alone can attract animals. It’s a big draw for cockroaches in particular. Don’t have water sources available and this means fixing any leaks or drips and being in control of any areas that create moisture.
Have a strict rubbish routine, never leave accessible food remains in open bins. All accessible bins should be emptied daily into a secure bin with a firm lid. Every few days at least, the rubbish should be taken to an outside, secure bin. In shared and general offices it’s easy to be complacent about the daily snack rubbish left in bins and even lying around. Then, before you know it, you find you’ve had visitors! Make sure everyone who uses the space is cleaning up after themselves.
Outside space, Alleyways & Paths around your premises
Think carefully about where you place bins or compost. Generally keep all areas free from unnecessary clutter. Clutter often provides and hides potential nesting areas. Keep any plants or shrubs maintained so they don’t provide easy routes to and from your business.
Block entry points
This can be quite a mission. Insects are small, and mice can squeeze through a 6mm hole, so ensuring every crack and crevice into your property is sealed is no easy task. You need to seal all openings around utility lines, check pipe joints and points where pipes enter a building, ensure all vents and outlets have appropriate covers and that all doors are secure, perhaps with sweeps. You can consider specialist professional pest proofing if you are concerned.
It is wise to check rooftops where possible too. You may find pests have blocked pipes and gutters, which can cause water dispersal issues. Pigeons can be a real problem in urban areas. They like to nest in buildings and can carry a considerable number of diseases. Beware of nest locations, and loosened tiles on roofs, creating a hazard.
What to do if you suspect you already have a problem
If you haven’t seen the pest with your own eyes, it may be urine or droppings – in sight or smell – that indicate their presence. Other signs include gnaw marks or greasy marks on property and signs of nesting, footprints and scrabbling noises.
If you have any suspicions, don’t ignore them and leave the problem to grow. Try to work out the pest in question, their key locations and their routes in and out. Thoroughly clean and disinfect any affected areas. Think about how you are going to deal with the current onsite intruders, and then how you are going to be sure you don’t encounter any more. It can be an unpleasant clear up, and it isn’t always easy to work out all the access routes. As this is your livelihood and as you have a responsibility to your staff and customers, you may be best advised to seek expert advice from a British Pest Control Association member.
Photo credits: coworkinglondon.com