Ask the Expert - Occupation Health and Safety

Our Pest control expert answers your questions about occupation health and safety.

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How long should I advise my clients to stay out of the treatment zone when I perform a Pest Control Treatment?
Occupational Health and Safety is not only to protect ourselves during treatment but to also ensure people and non-target animals are protected.
Answer from our Expert:
Great question and one that every Professional Pest Management business needs to have a definitive answer to.

Our responsibility in regards to Occupational Health and Safety is not only to protect ourselves during treatment but to also ensure people and non-target animals are protected.

There is no single answer to this question because treatment methods, formulation type, environmental conditions and the physical characteristics of a treatment area all vary.

First, weigh up all of the factors involved, assess potential dangers and put measures in place to manage problems. Treatment methods involving airborne particles during a misting treatment are managed differently to using controlled application techniques in voids.

Formulation choices offer varied characteristics in terms of evaporation of solvents or other components that are volatile for short periods. Environmental variations may be humidity levels that effect evaporation rates and of course, if your treatment area is in a high volume air changeover situation, this will be different to enclosed offices with poor circulation.

The role of the PPM is to investigate and assess every characteristic of a job site to ensure the application is not only effective but safe for all involved.

Where can we get relevant information?
Primarily, all the information you need is on product label so read it in full, especially when using for the first time or if using it in a manner which you are not familiar with.

The General Label Directions hold key messages including handling precautions, safety directions and very importantly, re-entry periods. Some statements are very specific, giving a set time such as 4 days or 4 hours but others are more general such as “Do not enter treated areas until spray has dried”. Depending on temperature, air turnover and even what you have treated e.g. absorbent surfaces like carpets vs. non-porous surfaces; the recommendations can vary.

The main body of the label has detailed information on the situation, pest, rate and critical comments that relate specifically to application. Read these thoroughly and always ensure you adhere to label rates.

General Instructions give you further details on mixing and application, especially to tricky surfaces. General Precautions outline specific limitations on product application and the processes to follow before and after.

The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) relates to the production, storage and transport of the concentrated product, so is of very limited use once the product is diluted. If you are transporting concentrated product to site then you must manage the product as per the MSDS information. Once diluted, focus on the label information only.

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My advice on exclusion from the treatment area is to sum up all of the factors involved. Look at your treatment method considering air borne particles and drying times on porous surfaces. Consider your product, especially if volatile ingredients are associated with it. From these considerations, make a judgement call on your exclusion time.

Discuss with your customer, talking plainly about your concerns. I haven’t found a customer that wouldn’t listen when discussing their safety.

Most importantly manage the whole process from start to finish and learn from everything you do.