At Rentokil, our Health and Safety motto is “Ensuring everyone goes home safe”. Safety is the ONE thing we do not, under any circumstances, take for granted or compromise on, especially when conducting specialist fumigation work.
Rentokil Initial UK has been awarded the RoSPA Gold Award for the third year in a row in recognition of our Health & Safety capability and fantastic 2019 performance – our safest year on record! To win the prestigious award, we had to provide evidence that we operate an effective Health & Safety management system by answering key performance questions and by supporting our answers with relevant documentation.
Far too often in the media have we heard of people becoming critically ill or lives being lost because of possible fumigant poisoning. Is it just a matter of basic protocols not being adhered to when carrying out specialist fumigation? There could be various reasons why protocols are not followed: time constraints, technicians not being qualified, faulty equipment, incorrect dosing or application of fumigant, or even service providers just not placing enough emphasis on precautionary and safety measures.
At Rentokil, fumigation is not a service to be rushed - we do not ‘cut corners’. Our protocols around safety are focused on keeping our customers safe, our technicians safe, and ensuring that the service carried out is in line with international standards like CORESTA.
Mitigating your risk
Before the treatment begins, a thorough risk assessment is completed to identify whether the treatment can be carried out safely. We identify any potential hazards that could impact the success of the treatment, and discuss and agree on a contingency plan for any unplanned eventualities like adverse weather conditions, or fire, floods, etc.
“Why weather?" you may ask. Phosphine gas, one of the more commonly used fumigants, is highly combustible when it comes into contact with water, so it stands to reason that this type of fumigant cannot be used in rainy weather or close to bodies of water. In either case an alternative needs to be used as well as written into the contingency plan.
The risk assessment entails walking the entire site or area to ensure the work can be carried out safely. The fumigation area and risk areas are identified. Parts of the structure that are not in the fumigation scope need to be safe for the duration of the treatment. Any items within the premises that could possibly be damaged or cause an obstruction will be identified and the client advised to make alternative arrangements for those items. A simple example would be if there are staff working in offices in close proximity to the fumigation area, or even vehicles parked within the fumigation radius which need to be moved out of the risk area.
As with all fumigation methods, the fumigation area needs to be ‘gas-tight’ to prevent any fumigant leakage and to ensure a successful fumigation. Gas measurement tools are used to ensure the correct amount of fumigant gas is inserted to be effective in eradicating the identified pest, or as required for exporting of certain goods.
Gas monitoring lines are also inserted into the fumigation area. These constantly monitor gas readings, to ensure the correct amount (parts per million) of fumigant gas is administered to guarantee the efficacy of the treatment.
We use specialised gas leakage detection tools for the duration of the treatment: these identify any gas leakages, ensuring both the safety of our teams and that remedial solutions can quickly be actioned without affecting the efficacy of the treatment.
Keeping our staff safe is our number one priority and personal breathing apparatus and monitoring equipment and devices are used to ensure individual safety during the treatment - inhalation of a fumigant gas can be lethal!
There’s never just one!
Rentokil will never send just one technician to carry out a specialist fumigation treatment. We will send a team of expert technicians as per our safety protocols.
All our fumigation solutions comply with relevant legislation which includes the manufacturers' MSDS, government regulations, pink notes, our own Global rules and regulations, and standard operating procedures which are specific to each task.
Our equipment checklists are in place to ensure that everything is in good working order before we arrive at your premises, and they rechecked before the work commences. Local branch audits are carried out on all equipment regularly, and Global audits are carried out by our Global Category Technical Manager (Specialist Services) annually. All our measuring and monitoring tools are calibrated regularly to accurately record and monitor fumigant gas readings. Without regular calibration of equipment the success of the treatment cannot be deemed successful.
Innovation and training:
Like everything else in the world today, there is continuous change in market trends and technology. Pests are evolving too. With our R&D department and global support structure we continue to innovate keeping us ahead of the market (and pests!) at all times. We train and assess our technicians constantly in our monthly branch meetings and in the field, keeping them up to date with the latest technology and servicing methods.
It’s only over when it's safe:
Once a specialist fumigation job is completed, the container or structure needs to be aerated to expel all the fumigant. Constant gas measurements are taken to ensure that all the toxic fumigant gasses have been expelled and the gas readings are at an acceptable level.
This aeration process is the reason we do not carry out fumigation in transit. There are, however, many companies who still offer this. Fumigation in transit is highly dangerous, and is deemed illegal by Pest Control Associations like SAPCA (The South African Pest Control Association).
I’m sure you understand why a moving container filled with fumigant gas is not a good idea. The fumigant gas is inserted, the container closed and sealed and sent on its way, only to be opened at its end destination. How can you be sure the receiver is aware of the hazards involved when opening the fumigated container? How can you be sure that the treatment was successful if no gas readings were taken during the treatment?
How safe is the unsuspecting off-loader, who opens the container? If they are not a qualified pest control operator, they won't understand the hazards involved. Will they be wearing protective breathing apparatus? What if a fumigated container onboard a vessel has a gas leak?
There are too many unanswered questions for fumigation in transit to be a safe practice. At Rentokil, we ensure that the risk is reduced by aerating the structure or container and only once the fumigant is completely expelled will it be safe to proceed to its destination or for people to re-enter the structure.
Our experience in the field of fumigation - and particularly safety - has set us ahead in the marketplace and we look forward to providing you with safe specialist fumigation services when the need arises. Be sure to contact the experts for all your fumigation needs.