Unless you work alone at home most workplaces are fairly busy, people come and go, people eat, people produce varying amounts of refuse and then people go home.

We actually spend a enormous amount of time in our places of work, often more than we do at home in terms of waking hours so it is no wonder that the various animal pests humans have to deal with are more likely to be an issue at work than at home. However, because of the often-transient nature of the workplace and the fact that it’s common to take less pride in a building we do not own and sometimes even resent these little animals can really cause some problems.

pests at workIt’s never a nice thought but pests at work like rats and mice, among others, are a reality and business owners and staff alike should be aware of the dangers, the causes and how to prevent them.

The pests

Before we look at causes and other factors let’s take a deep breath and have a little look at some of the common pests we may face at work.

Rats and mice

OK so these are the public enemy No 1 of the pest world. Rats and Mice can really set some people on edge, they have long been a source of fear which is partly justified. Rats certainly have a history of causing illness with the Black Death and all that but that wasn’t totally their fault. Rodents can, however, cause a lot of issues, they can chew through wires and damage buildings, they can carry diseases and they can be a real problem in food prep areas.

Wasps and flies

Wasps can be a problem for obvious reasons, and if anyone has an allergy in the workplace it is critical they are dealt with. Flies may not sting but they can spread illness by feeding on exposed food which is then consumed.

Foxes

While a fox isn’t likely to come into an office and start attacking people, they can be a problem. Having a number of bold “daytime” foxes around the bins of a business is really not good and is something that would need to be dealt with.

Pigeons

Descended from the pleasant-sounding Rock Dove the common pigeon can be a real pain. One or two is fine but large numbers can cause damage to buildings as well as spread disease. A business can even have to be closed if the numbers are so great, they need to be removed.

Impact

Each pest is different but ultimately their impact is similar. Health is the big issue, anything that can potentially harm a member of staff or a customer is a big problem. Rodents, pigeons, flies and the like can spread diseases and illness. Not only is this bad from an HR point and customer of view but it can also lead to staff down time and even reputation damage. Pests can also give an impression of a workplace being dirty and unsanitary. This can impact a number of areas of a business from customers not wanting to visit and public health warnings/closures to staff retention issues and the illness already mentioned. There is a clear cost, staff and customer issue related to pests in the workplace so they must be taken seriously.

Prevention

We will get to solutions later on, but it is always better to avoid a problem in the first place than have to deal with it. There are a few simple things that can be done to help prevent pests in the workplace.

Refuse management

All rubbish, be it desk bins, kitchen bins or the external bins must be well organised. Regular bin collections should happen around the workplace to avoid food sources being left overnight for pests. A good standard or hygiene should be in place in all workplace kitchens and food prep areas. Anywhere people eat should be kept clean and free from waste food. External bins must be secure and clean to avoid foxes and other pests coming close to the building. Often rats can start on the outside and venture into looking for more!

Building maintenance

A good way to avoid pests and to spot them early is to keep the building in a good state of repair. Masonry gaps and wholes should be dealt with to avoid birds or wasps nesting. Holes in walls and doors should be fixed as they can allow rodent access and nesting. Pigeon prevention spikes are easy to install and can be a simple way to avoid a problem later on.

Culture

Having a good culture of organisation, building care and hygiene in a business will help avoid many pest related problems. Having staff aware and active in the correct protocols is key.

Solutions

There is really only one solution if there is a pest problem in the business you own or work in and that is to call for professional help. One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to deal with pests themselves in order to save money. A bit of rat poison from the local DIY shop will not cure a rat problem and could lead to some serious issues in regard to toxins in the workplace. Find a local professional pest control business and call them. It is the only way to deal with a problem properly and when customers and staff are involved it is critical to take responsibility and get the pests dealt with correctly. Saving money will only cost more in the future as the pests at work take hold and cause more problems.