When choosing a fumigation provider the cheapest option could sometimes be more expensive in the long run. We’re not saying that you need to choose the most expensive option, but you do need to be sure that you are getting value for your money.
Taking shortcuts, deviating from safe operating procedures, and using inferior products is not something you’d expect from a service provider and yet, these things happen. Rentokil is here to share our expertise and guide you on what to look for in a fumigation service provider, and also how to identify potential hazards during the fumigation process.
Firstly, choose a reputable service provider.
Choosing a reputable provider might feel like a daunting task, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. Fumigation is a high-risk service and you need to be sure that your provider is knowledgeable. Find out about their experience in the precision or specialist fumigation area and what type of work they carry out.
These are some of the questions you should be asking:
- Are they registered with the Department of Agriculture, Forestries and Fishing, and are their staff qualified to carry out fumigation services?
- Is the company registered with various Industry bodies like SAPCA; do they follow guidelines from CORESTA for specific products or audit requirements from auditing bodies like GFSI, BRC, etc and what is their audit track record for specific commodities?
- Ask about their support structure and how many technicians will be required for the treatment you need.
- Find out what the various options are for the commodity you need fumigated and how long the process will take.
- Safety of your employees is imperative: find out what measures will be in place to keep staff safe for the duration of the treatment.
Once you have chosen your provider, find out how they will be managing your fumigation process.
Questions to ask your provider prior to the fumigation service taking place:
1. Where will the fumigation be carried out?
Fumigants are highly toxic, and even minimal amounts can have dire consequences. This is why fumigation should only be carried out in a suitable area where there is minimal risk to people, pets, plants and water bodies as possible. Rentokil will carry out a full site risk assessment before any work commences to identify whether the treatment can be carried out safely and any potential hazards that could impact the success of the fumigation.
The Risk and Fumigation areas should be cordoned off with danger tape and signage of the fumigation process should be clearly visible. Read more about our safety protocols in our previous blog Fumigation: why safety is a BIG deal!
2. Is there a contingency and emergency plan?
There should always be a plan B. Rentokil will carry out a full Site Risk Assessment before the work commences to identify whether the work can be carried out safely, and any potential hazards or challenges can be identified and a contingency plan put in place. For example: what if weather conditions change and a fumigation can no longer be carried out in a specific area - is there an alternative? Is there an emergency plan and has this been shared with those who need to be informed?
3. What guarantee is in place that a fumigation will be successful?
Providing a certificate without any backup proof does not assure you of a successful fumigation.
A service provider should be able to provide you with fumigant gas readings throughout the fumigation process when requested.
Rentokil uses PortaSens measuring devices, which are regularly calibrated to take readings throughout the fumigation process. Specific PPM readings must be achieved for the duration of the fumigation based on different variables.
Not all providers calibrate their equipment regularly which is something that should be standard practise. Calibration of measuring and gauging equipment is important to maintain instrument accuracy and ensure a successful fumigation. Only once we have satisfied all measurements and readings have reached acceptable levels, can we issue the clearance certificate.
This video showcases an innovative on-site pest control treatment service provided by Rentokil Pest Control:
4. Will you be aerating the commodity after treatment?
This is an extremely important step in the fumigation process and also a very dangerous one. The fumigators should all wear SCBA apparatus as well as monitoring equipment to measure the fumigant gas being released from the commodity. Only once the gas measurements have reached the fumigant exposure limit as per the fumigant label can the fumigators sign off the clearance certificate and hand-over to the customer.
Questions to ask your provider during the fumigation service:
1. Is the fumigation area cordoned off?
The process of fumigation is a highly dangerous one, where toxic fumigant gasses are used to suffocate the targeted pests. At Rentokil we cordon off the risk area with danger tape and notices, as a preventative measure and only trained personnel, wearing personal protective equipment are allowed to enter this space.
2. If tarpaulins are being used, what condition are they in and are they being weighed down or tape sealed during the treatment?
Any tear in the tarp or if it's not weighed down with sandbags or snakes will provide a place for the fumigant gas to escape. This means the fumigation area is not ‘gas-tight’. The same applies to the integrity of containers. There are a number of reasons for this, but these are the two most important:
a) If the area is not gas-tight and no measuring equipment or monitoring devices are being used, gas could be escaping and a successful fumigation cannot be certified.
b) Fumigant gasses are highly toxic, some of them odourless and if they are escaping through tears in a tarpaulin or gaps in a container, there is always the danger of inhalation, explosion, or becoming flammable, especially if the area is not cordoned off.
Rentokil’s protocols with regards to sealing will ensure the stack or container being treated is gas-tight. Our tarpaulins as well as our equipment are checked after each fumigation treatment.
3. Are the fumigators using personal protective and monitoring equipment and self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) during the treatment?
‘Ensuring everyone goes home safe’ is our health and safety motto here at Rentokil and this could not be more evident than with fumigation. Our staff are equipped with PPE, SCBA and personal monitoring devices during fumigation treatments: PPE is specific for fumigation, with high visibility strips, safety shoes, protective coveralls, etc. SCBA or self-contained breathing apparatus is used when working directly within the fumigation area protecting our staff from inhaling noxious gasses.
Each technician is also equipped with a personal gas monitoring device, which measures the amount of fumigant gas in the air. This is worn in the fumigation area and throughout the treatment and alerts the fumigator to any gas leaks, and when it is safe to enter. Watch this video to see a Phosphine fumigation treatment by the Rentokil team of experts:
4. Are fumigant gas feed lines being used?
Gas feed lines are strategically positioned within the commodity and attached to PortaSens units. These feed lines measure the amount of gas we shoot into the commodity and how well the fumigant is distributed and expelled after the treatment.
5. What's left behind?
Your fumigation provider should remove and dispose of all traces of a fumigation service. There should be no fumigant residue, discarded bags, or fumigant packaging left behind. These should all be deactivated and disposed of by a registered company.
This is important because different fumigants react to certain elements into which they may come into contact, and shouldn’t be discarded in the nearest dustbin! Phosphine is highly combustible when it comes into contact with water, Methyl Bromide is flammable when in contact with aluminium or metals, and Sulfuryl Fluoride (Profume) should be kept away from open flame.
By asking these questions of your provider, you will be able to ensure the safest, most effective fumigation service takes place. Taking shortcuts and choosing a provider based purely on the lowest price could have very serious ramifications. Contact Rentokil today for a free survey.
You may also be interested in reading more of our fumigation articles here.