Burgers. Watermelon. Refreshing libations. While these tasty treats signal the start of summer, they can also indicate the arrival of peak pest season. Summer is a great time to go outside and soak up some sun, but it is also the ideal time for pests to emerge from their hiding spots and search for food and nesting sites. Pests aren’t just a nuisance, they can also pose serious health risks to customers and employees alike.
Restaurants, diners and other food venues have a plethora of food, water and shelter—the three things that pests need to survive. As summer starts, your staff will play an increasingly important role to your Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Employees are every business’s first line of defense when it comes to pest control. That’s why recruiting your team to assist in implementing your pest control plan is essential to the program’s effectiveness.
Staff training is an effective way to make sure your entire team is on the page and up to speed in regard to your IPM program and pest control practices. With a trained eye, employees can help your pest control provider pinpoint potential pest hotspots and diminish any isolated pest incidents.
As you train your team on your pest control program, keep these tips in mind to keep pests out of your restaurants—and away from your customers’ food.
Education is Key
The phrase, “ignorance is bliss,” doesn’t exactly hold water when it comes to pest control. Educating employees on the contents of your IPM program is extremely important to ensure your team has a better understanding of how pests can enter your building in the first place.
Here are a few common pest hotspots that should be regularly monitored in your facility:
Drains. Areas that tend to be damp or wet can act as attractors to pests like flies. If you see larvae (maggots), it is important to act quickly to lower the risk of an infestation.
Cabinets. Cockroaches can commonly be found in dark, sheltered spaces like cabinets. Small, pepper-like droppings can signal a cockroach presence.
Under and behind appliances. Appliances offer plenty of shelter and protection for pests. Clear any clutter under or behind appliances and check for any indication of pest activity.
Storage areas. Since pests are drawn to less-frequented areas around your facility, storage areas make prime living areas for pests.
Wall voids. Rodents, cockroaches and other pests can be found in wall voids. Keep an eye out for gnaw marks on baseboards and grease marks on walls that can indicate a rodent problem.
Your pest control specialist can help identify challenges unique to your facility and pinpoint potential pest hotspots that are most likely to experience pest activity. Many pest control providers also offer free employee training sessions, so be sure to talk to your provider about on-site training.
Track Pest Activity
Establishing and implementing a pest sighting log can encourage consistent communication among your entire team and help your pest control provider determine the steps to take to correct a pest problem - not to mention a detailed log can help you pass your next audit. An isolated pest incident can quickly evolve into a full-blown pest infestation if not reported immediately.
Encourage employees to log each pest sighting and bring forward any pest concerns. This type of consistent, open communication allows staff to feel included and in your IPM program and fosters a sense of responsibility among each individual.
Implement a Pest-Sighting Procedure
In addition to a detailed log of pest sightings, there must be a pest sighting procedure in place to determine how a pest issue should be handled. Having a procedure in place can help set up a simple guideline for employees to follow if a pest is found. Each step in the procedure should be clear and easy to follow.
A few steps each employee should be able to implement include:
Catch the pest. If possible, capturing the pest can help your pest control provider determine what type of pest is in your facility. If it is impossible to catch the pest, take a picture. Use caution if you are unsure about stinging or biting potential.
Log each pest sighting. Each entry in your pest sighting log, be sure to include when, where and how many pests were seen.
Contact management. In cases of an extreme pest issue, management should be contacted and your pest control provider should be alerted.
Pest pressures don’t go away as season change – they can change from season to season as pests’ behavior changes. With a pest sighting procedure in place, your pest control provider can better adapt your pest management program to more effectively handle pest issues year-round.
Technology also changes all the time, even in pest control. Stay up to date with the latest technologies and information to share with staff and help prevent pests from entering the building. From door closers and door sweeps to air curtains and window screens, there are many preventive tools you can use to keep pests out.
Most pest control providers have information and materials that help your business create a more effective IPM program. Ask your pest control specialist for tip sheets, checklists, informational emails and other educational materials.
Recruiting your team as part of your pest control taskforce can help keep your facility in tip-top shape—and stop pests from eating away at your facility.