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Pests in offices can present a serious health threat to people working there so it is vital to ensure that the office does not become a breeding ground.
Any potential points of access and sites for pests to make their homes need to be identified, monitored and protected to prevent a pest infestation in the office environment.
Rentokil has decades of experience in protecting offices from pests. Our integrated pest management approach incorporates both preventative and responsive strategies to provide the most efficient and consistent pest control using industry-leading technology.
A pest infestation can have a major impact on office management, including.
A study on the business impact of pests commissioned by Rentokil Initial of 1000 non-food businesses across five countries (including offices) found that staff morale was the most commonly cited impact on business costs following an infestation.
Almost half of businesses reported that it took more than two weeks for the disruptive period to be over and 15% of businesses said they suffered a drop in revenue and reputational damage. Increased maintenance and repair costs and damage to goods was also a common impact of an infestation.
Rodents, a wide variety of insects and birds can exploit many opportunities to find shelter, food and water in office buildings. Each pest has unique characteristics that allow it to exploit weak points in buildings, but which also give away its presence when infesting a building. These are described below for the most common pests:
Mice and rats are the most common pests found in offices. Their inquisitiveness and agility enable them to exploit many types of weakness in in buildings to find a way in. They can climb rough vertical surfaces and walk along thin cables, wires, pipes and branches of trees and bushes growing close to buildings. They can squeeze through tiny gaps or gnaw around them to make a bigger hole to gain access to a building — in wood, plastic or soft masonry.
There are multiple hazards from rodents including:
Rats and mice provide a range of clues that indicate their presence:
A number of fly species can become pests around offices. They are attracted by food smells from kitchens, stored food and waste food, whether in garbage bins inside or outside the building. Flies can also be a pest if there are businesses nearby that provide breeding grounds, such as poultry and pig farms or food businesses with garbage containers that are not managed properly.
A fly problem is easily identified by an unusually large number of adult flies seen in and around an office. The most common fly pests in offices are:
Cockroaches are attracted by food, moisture, suitable temperature and harbourage. They are more of a problem in warmer countries, but can be a particular problem in buildings because of their ability to hide in small, difficult-to-reach places.
Cockroaches feed on decaying matter, mould, faecal matter and can carry a large number of diseases and parasites into the office environment and contaminate food, surfaces, cupboards, and packaging. They can eat any type of food and even cardboard, but only need small residues or spills of food or liquid to survive on.
Cockroaches are generally nocturnal so are unlikely to be seen during office hours unless disturbed. They can shelter in cracks and crevices in walls and floors, around pipes and wiring, inside equipment and machinery and hidden spaces that provide the right temperature and humidity. They can also inhabit drains and sewers and access buildings through the pipework.
Signs of cockroaches are:
These may be in hidden areas under, behind or inside cupboards and desks or other office furniture, or even items such as toasters that accumulate food debris inside.
Ants can easily get into a building through any small gap in doors, windows, air vents, etc to forage for food and the odd one is unlikely to be a problem. However, if they are near where food is stored you don’t want it to escalate into an infestation. Signs of an infestation are:
Bed bugs can be brought into any building where there are large numbers of people visiting, including employees, visitors, contractors. They can also be carried into a building in furniture or other items such as electrical equipment.
Once inside a building, bed bugs will find shelter in small hidden places, especially in furniture where they are most likely to encounter a human for a blood meal. They are most likely to be found in storage areas, offices or lounges with upholstered furniture, or areas where people may rest. They are mainly nocturnal feeders but will feed at any time if hungry.
The signs of bed bugs are:
Fleas are brought into a building by people, pets and pests. There are several types, which are specific to their favoured animal: cat, dog, bird, human and rat fleas. Each type of flea prefers its normal host but will attempt to bite other animals, including humans before dropping off.
The main signs of a flea infestation are:
Birds can become pests on the roofs and ledges of office buildings and also roof spaces where there is access from outside, such as through vents or broken tiles. The main bird pests are pigeons, seagulls and sparrows. The problems caused by birds include:
Stored product insects (SPIs) can become a pest where dried foods are stored for long periods, including: cereal products, nuts, dried fruit, powdered milk, tea, preserved meats. In an office this could be in the canteen, staff kitchen facilities or in desks where people store their snacks.
SPIs cover a wide range of pests, including beetles, weevils, moths (larvae) and mites. They are more likely to infest products in packaging that has been opened, but some can chew their way through packaging made of paper, cardboard, plastic and foil.
Signs of stored product insects include:
The main strategy is to prevent a pest infestation in offices by denying pests access into the building and any food, water and shelter.
Rentokil can advise customers how to protect offices against pests and comply with specific legislation. We can offer state-of-the-art pest control solutions and world class services to deal with pest infestations and prevent them recurring.
These are some of the steps that businesses can take to prevent pest infestations in offices:
Staff in offices should not apply pesticides themselves because of the risk of ineffective and inappropriate use. This can result in contamination with poisonous chemicals due to drip, drain, fog, splash or spray on food, materials and equipment.
Contacting a pest control professional is the most appropriate course of action in an office environment. Rentokil technicians are highly trained and will ensure that if it is necessary to use pesticides, the most suitable pesticides are used, they will be applied only where necessary and in an approved way that prevents hazards to employees, other persons and the environment.
When an entire commercial building is affected by a pest infestation and alternative pest eradication measures are not sufficient, a fumigation treatment may be required.
Depending on its construction, the building may be covered in a tent or all entry and exit points are sealed to contain the fumigation gases.
The fumigation gas is introduced for the required time, so that it penetrates all parts of the building that the pest has infested. The gas is then ventilated from the tent to enable the building to be reoccupied.
The severe pest infestations that may require fumigation treatments include: