Pest control and the Law – what you need to know about pests and your legal obligations
When we’re dealing with rodents infestations in properties we often hear the statement “You’re never more than six foot away from a rat so what can you do?”, as misguided as this saying and the thoughts behind it are, what you have to do is to take responsibility for YOUR property. This means that it is your duty as laid down by the law to deal with rodent issues especially if they are impacting neighbouring properties, or if you run a business that has a rat or mouse problem, either inside or outside of the premises.
We have written this guide to some of the pest issues and the covering legislation; another saying is “ignorance is no defence” and if you have a pest problem which you ignore, then you have no protection from action by the Environmental Health Department.
The Prevention of Damage by Pest Act 1949
This Act is the hammer in our toolbox and one of the most frequently used pieces of legislation aimed at the protection of the community specifically from rats although this can apply to mice just as easily in an internal setting.
This Act doesn’t just deal with rodent issues but also incorporates insect pests along with birds and has far reaching powers that enables a Local Authority to take out enforcement action to ensure compliance with the law. This Act gives suitably authorised people (the Local Authorities) the right to inspect any premises and as a property owner you are required to keep your property vermin free; failure to do so may lead to legal action, forced business closure and fines.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990
One problem that we often encounter which leads to problems with rats and mice is the issue of incorrectly stored waste material, hoarding and general refuse that becomes a food source for vermin. An important piece of legislation that protects the community from these types of scenarios is called the Environmental Protection Act of 1990.
Although this Act is largely aimed at commercial businesses and the risk of pollution, Section 45 of the Act specifically refers to waste management. If you are not dealing with your waste correctly then you are failing to comply with legislation that could prove costly to your business.
The Food Safety Act 1990
The main responsibilities on businesses under this Act are that they ensure that the food they sell is safe to the health of the people consuming it and that the food served is of a nature, substance and quality which those consumers expect.
This Act outlines the need for business owners to take ‘due diligence’ – by employing a professional pest controller to monitor and deal with infestations in a timely manner, we can help you in meeting the obligations laid out in the Act.
The Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995
These regulations are aimed at food proprietors and outline the basic rules that state that you should ensure that all food is supplied in a hygienic way, all food safety hazards such as rats and mice are identified and that you know the critical activities for food safety and that safety controls are in place.
A regular pest monitoring contract from us can assist you meet your obligations to these regulations and provide you with constant security from rodent or insect infestation.
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
All employers must take necessary measures to secure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and visiting contractors – for example we have carried out clean ups and bird proofing of contaminated lift motor rooms after pigeons have gotten in and started to roost. This action protects visiting contractors and any staff that may have to work there, the HASAW Act is the primary piece of legislation covering all workplace health and safety and carries heavy penalties if not applied in a business setting.
The Public Health Act 1961 and Pests
Local Authorities run an Environmental Health Department who are concerned with food safety standards and dealing with complaints of public health nuisance under the Public Health Act; premises that are deemed to be in a filthy or verminous condition (rotting foodstuffs, waste and accumulations of rubbish, heavy rat infestations) can be inspected and work orders can be enforced to remove the rubbish and deal with the rodent infestation.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health – COSHH
Part of the Health and Safety at Work Act requires businesses to keep an inventory of all chemicals that maybe hazardous to health; these range from basic cleaning materials to the types of toxic compounds that we use in our pest control activities.
Our COSHH statement is as follows:
AAPC assess the need to use insecticides against insect infestation and how these risks can be controlled, we give advice to the customer when they are used and we will always determine a period of time when it is not safe to enter a treated compartment following the application of the chemicals.
AAPC maintains a record of the insecticide used and a copy of this paperwork is given to the customer for their use.
Insecticides are kept in a secure container which is appropriately marked.
All rodenticides are securely stored, and vehicles are sign written with the hazard warning triangle; our paperwork will list the active compound used and a copy is given to the customer.
AAPC ensures that the technicians employed are fully qualified in pest control and capable of handling hazardous substances.