A closed due to Coronavirus sign on a door

British Retail Consortium publishes guidance for pest control in a crisis

The British Retail Consortium has provided guidelines on pest control procedures during the current Coronavirus crisis. It acknowledges that pest control is a key factor in protecting food and therefore public health and safety.  However, it does specify that contractors must have procedures in place to safeguard employees and to reduce the chance of introducing Coronavirus onto sites. 

As has long been a requirement, the BRC is advising that the frequency of visits is based on risk assessment and therefore some sites can be subject to reduced visits should this be deemed acceptable, for example, low pest risk sites. However, it highlights that increased pest awareness for site personnel is imperative.

Managing pest control during COVID-19
Clearly, the twin objectives of the safety of site employees and that of the pest controller need to be managed, whilst ensuring that product is protected from any risks associated with the ingress of pests.

It is recognised that access to sites is currently challenging for many service providers due to the ongoing circumstances relating to COVID-19. In these situations the site is responsible for reviewing their processes to ensure the continued production of safe products and the site must therefore have sufficient controls in place to ensure this. It is the site’s responsibility to ensure they look at options and decide how this happens. It is not acceptable to simply cancel pest control activities.

BRC says it would expect that pest control operators have in place processes to safeguard their operators and ensure that they reduce the risk of introducing Coronavirus if they visit sites. Pest control operators must of course comply with the site’s Coronavirus management processes and any legislation in the country or region in which they are located.

Clearly not all manufacturing environments face the same risk from pests. This may depend, for example, on type of products manufactured, age/construction of the site, pest history and seasonality. This needs to be considered when deciding how to proceed. Where the pest risk is considered high, sites may need to accommodate a visit from their pest controller. Where pest control risks are considered to be low, pest control visits may be postponed for a short period as part of a site’s Coronavirus control measures; however, BRC says it would expect that internal controls such as pest awareness and reporting are increased and pest controllers are called wherever an issue is identified.

There are lots of options where pest control contractors can and should continue to assist their clients, including online support, video technology and training (for example virtual, online or answers to specific enquiries).