The Purdue Pest Management Conference, held last month at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., provided attendees with an opportunity to hear from leading industry professionals, check out the latest pest control products in the exhibit hall and network with one another. The following photo review includes speakers, attendees and ceremonies.
NEW YORK — Was your Valentine’s Day gift this year memorable? It probably was for those who received the gift of a cockroach. The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo offered a light-hearted way to “make sure your loved one knows your feelings are forever” – a cockroach in their name and a 100 percent solid dark chocolate COCOA-ROACH.
This was the second year in which the WCS’s Bronx Zoo offered “hopeless romantics from around the world” the opportunity to name (for the price of $10) real live Madagascar hissing cockroaches after their favorite loved one, “ex” or mother-in-law. Each gift came with a colorful certificate e-mailed to the purchaser’s loved one announcing that a cockroach was named in his or her honor.
To make the offer even sweeter, this year the WCS’s Bronx Zoo was selling a COCOA-ROACH for that special someone – a genuine artisanal 100 percent solid dark chocolate likeness of a Madagascar hissing cockroach – the world’s largest member of the roach family. COCOA-ROACHES were created with precision and artistry by chocolatier Sabrina Berkowitz of The Chocolate Box NYC. COCOA-ROACHES were an additional $15 for one or $25 for a COCOA-ROACH couple. All proceeds went to help the Wildlife Conservation Society save wildlife and wild places around the world.
Visit www.bronxzoo.com/roach to see a video about this promotion.
Editor’s note: The January PCT cover story "Route Risks That Can Kill” provides tips for avoiding on-the-job injuries and included results from an August 2011 PCT survey focusing on safety training and programs for pest control companies. The following article “A review of the 2007-2010 PCOC” was written by Eric Paulsen, CRM, risk manager, Clark Pest Control, and originally appeared in the Pest Control Operators of California’s (PCOC’s) quarterly magazine. The article was edited with contributions from Paul Lindsay, director, Jenkins Insurance Group. The PCOC and the Pest Management Insurance team at Jenkins Insurance have partnered with the California State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) and other compensation carriers for more than 22 years to provide quality insurance and risk management to PCOC members. One of the purposes and advantages of this type of joint partnership is to pool resources in an effort to control losses. In the following article, Paulsen has compiled and analyzed the loss history generated through this partnership. It provides valuable insight into the exposure and losses that PCOs encounter.
CLICK HERE to access this article.
Editor’s note: In August 2011 PCT conducted a survey of some of its readers focusing on their company’s safety training and programs. The results of that survey appear throughout this article.
Anyone who works with pesticides understands and respects the associated risks. Unfortunately, pest management professionals sometimes forget about the other physical risks of servicing a route: potential accidents, injuries and illnesses that run the gamut from mild inconveniences to life-threatening situations.
Entomologist Larry Pinto, a 25+-year veteran of urban entomology and founder of pest control publishing and consulting firm Pinto & Associates, says that pest management companies are becoming more proactive in developing safety training programs for technicians.
“Awareness of the need for safety programs has grown particularly strong over the past five years,” states Pinto. “In addition to management being concerned about employee well-being, many insurance companies are requiring safety plans. Companies working with government accounts are often required to submit their safety programs prior to being awarded contracts as well.”
A steadfast advocate for safety on the job, Pinto wrote the Pest Control Technician Safety Manual, 2nd Edition, a comprehensive safety guide for technicians in the field. This article discusses a few of the more common route risks discussed in Pinto’s book; visit pctonline.com/Store to order the complete manual.
Slips, Trips and Falls. Although they may seem inconsequential, slips, trips and falls account for 10 percent of accidents resulting in lost time from work. These accidents can happen anywhere: at your company’s facility, at a job site or walking from the truck to the customer’s front door. Weather and work-site conditions — snow, ice, spilled oil, construction debris, etc. — can contribute to the risk of slipping and tripping.
Awareness and common sense go a long way in preventing slips, trips and falls. Pinto also offers these tips:
- Use a flashlight when working in low-light areas.
- Wear skid-resistant shoes or boots.
- Balance any loads you carry, and don’t carry anything that blocks your vision.
- Clean up spills immediately.
- If you’re falling, toss away anything you’re carrying, and turn and roll to avoid landing on your back or head.
Loading docks can present particularly dangerous conditions. Stay clear of loading deck edges, be aware that dock plates can be slippery, and always be alert in the presence of forklifts or other moving equipment. “Dock jumping,” rather than using the stairs, can lead to serious injuries as well.
Bloodborne Pathogens. Should your work take you into a hospital, medical lab, nursing home or the home of someone under medical care, be aware that you could be exposed to bloodborne pathogens, agents within blood, body fluids or medical waste that cause diseases. (You can also be exposed if you administer first aid or are in the vicinity of illegal drug use.)
Your first line of defense is education: Find out about bloodborne diseases and how they’re transmitted, and consider vaccinations for the hepatitis B virus. Also:
- Wear proper safety equipment. Depending on the situation, this might include disposable gloves or mask, goggles, a respirator or other personal protective equipment.
- Avoid needlesticks. Never reach into areas you can’t see into, such as trash cans or under sofa cushions or mattresses.
- Never touch medical waste, bandages, blood or other bodily fluids or contaminated laundry.
- If you are unsure whether you should be entering a medical or laboratory area, don’t.
Pest-Related Diseases. Coming into contact with pests can expose you to a broad range of diseases. Precautionary measures can minimize the chances you’ll be infected by one of these diseases, but if you experience symptoms after contact with pests, seek prompt medical attention.
Situations in which you might encounter disease-carrying organisms or parasites include:
- Bird and bat roosts. Rabies is a concern if you are bitten, scratched or have other direct contact with an infected bat; organisms that cause histoplasmosis and cryptococcosis grow in bird and bat droppings; and bird mites, bat bugs and other ectoparasites (external parasites) can bite. Wear a respirator equipped with a high-efficiency filter, disposable protective gloves, hat, coveralls, eye protection and booties when working in and around roosts.
- Exposure to animals hosting ticks or to tick-infested areas, such as dense undergrowth, grass or weeds. Ticks carry a variety of diseases, notably Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis. Wear long sleeves and long pants, tuck pant legs into your socks and boots, keep your collar buttoned and spray your shoes, clothing and exposed skin with tick repellent. Check yourself for ticks when you shower, and if you are bitten, remove the tick immediately and save it in alcohol in case there’s a need for testing.
- Contact with rodents, which can carry hantavirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), plague and rat-bite fever (RBF). Always wear animal-handling or trapper’s gloves when handling rodents, dispose of rodent carcasses by sealing them in a plastic bag and, if a rodent infestation is heavy, consider spraying the area with an insecticide/acaracide to eliminate ectoparasites.
- Contact with rabid animals — raccoons, skunks, dogs, cats and other warm-blooded animals. Rabies is always deadly if left untreated. Seek medical attention immediately if you come into contact with a rabid animal and, if possible, take the animal in for testing.
- Crawlspaces or other areas that might be contaminated with animal feces, which could be infected with hookworms (intestinal parasites). This is a fairly common risk to service technicians, who may experience “creeping eruption,” inflamed, itchy tracks in the skin caused by burrowing hookworms. They should never crawl through soil with bare arms, hands, legs, etc.
Crush Injuries and Trauma. Working in and around construction sites or large food plants increases the risk of crush injuries and trauma. Always stay alert in these environments, follow construction site rules and keep the following precautions in mind:
On a construction site:
- Be aware of any heavy equipment that’s in operation. Forklift tip-over is a common cause of fatal injuries, as is getting pinned between machinery and a wall or a stack of materials.
- Wear a hard hat and be alert to workers who are active overhead.
- Be wary working next to masonry walls, which can collapse if not well-supported.
- Don’t enter a trench if piles of dirt are close to the edge or if heavy equipment is parked or moving nearby; either of these conditions could cause a collapse.
In a food plant:
- Be alert, especially when working during off-hours. Equipment operators won’t expect anyone to be there and may not see you.
- Beware of high stacks of materials, and examine what’s overhead. Most accidents in food plants involve technicians’ being crushed by materials or equipment that falls on them as they’re working.
Entrapment & Confined Spaces. Entering sewers, storm drains, manhole vaults, grain bins, elevator pits or other confined spaces is risky business. The types of accidents that can happen in these locations tend to be serious, and sometimes fatal. That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates permits for entering these confined spaces, where you work in cramped, restricted conditions and often must squeeze through a small opening to enter.
- Do not enter a permit-required confined space unless you have been authorized by the owner or operator to enter it and you have been trained in the special safety requirements of permit-space entry.
- Do not try to rescue a co-worker trapped in a permit-required confined space unless you are trained and equipped to do so.
Electric Shock. Electrocution causes roughly one in 10 workplace fatalities. Pest control technicians face a number of electrical hazards, from using damaged electrical tools to spraying onto live electrical lines to having direct contact with live wires in crawlspaces, attics or industrial settings. Look more deeply into this topic, as there are many precautions you should take to prevent electric shock, including:
- Never remove a grounding prong or bypass the ground.
- Use only grounded or double-insulated tools.
- Do not use equipment with damaged cords or cracked casings.
- Use a ground fault interrupter (GFI) when drilling through a slab or using any electrical tool in a wet area.
- Do not apply water-based pesticide near live electrical currents.
- Do not work outside during thunderstorms.
Fire and Explosion. When a fire starts, remember that your first concern should not be putting it out but rather protecting yourself and others. If you’re not certain you can control a fire, move yourself and others away, and never attempt to extinguish burning chemicals/pesticides. Evacuate the area and call the fire department.
For pest management professionals, the most common cause of explosions and fire happens when filling gas cans. Pinto warns that a fire can ignite spontaneously due to static electricity and offers the following precautions:
- Do not refill portable gasoline containers while they are inside pickup trucks or cars. Remove them and place them on the ground a safe distance from the vehicle.
- Touch the container with the gas dispenser nozzle before removing the container lid (to dissipate static charges to the ground).
- Keep the nozzle in contact with the container inlet when filling.
- Manually control the nozzle throughout the filling process.
- Fill the container slowly to decrease the chance of static electricity buildup.
Violence. The risk of personal attack while you’re on the job should not be taken lightly. If your territory includes inner-city neighborhoods known for drug or violent activity, you service public housing or low-income apartment complexes, or your job requires you to collect cash, you should be especially wary. Pinto offers the following precautions:
Identify situations in which violence could erupt and act to avoid it.
- If you feel you face a significant risk of personal attack by entering a building or residence, do not enter. (Consult your supervisor or the site manager when in doubt.)
- Drive gently to prevent road rage attacks.
- Back down in confrontations.
Pets sometimes become violent as well. Never approach a strange dog and, if approached by a dog, allow it to sniff. Don’t reach out or make eye contact, and only pet the dog if the owner gives permission. Remember, too, that a wagging tail doesn’t always indicate friendliness: A dog holding its tail high and wagging stiffly is usually a bad sign.
The author is a Cleveland-based freelance writer and a frequent contributor to PCT magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Larry Pinto’s book Pest Control Technician Safety Manual, now in its 2nd edition, covers more than 50 safety-related topics, offering information and precautionary measures that can save lives and reduce time away from work. Visit pctonline.com/Store for details.
Editor’s note: The following article was excerpted from The Service Technician’s Field Manual. See the article in the sidebar for information about this new book.
In professional pest control, emphasis is usually placed on the technology of killing pests, while the cost, or economics, of the process is often overlooked. However, designed into every application tool and insecticide is the concept of application economics. This concept considers how much insecticide is being applied, and how well the application tool works in terms of amount and cost. Application technology covers the control effectiveness of treatment, while application economics covers the cost effectiveness of it — both are important.
The “more is better” approach to pest control must be replaced with the “less is more” approach. By the time a professional service provider is called, pest problems have usually become severe, and customer attempts failed. While professionals have the advantages of training, equipment and application, the customer often expects “stronger” insecticides and more treatment. The fact that precise or minimum application will achieve control is often difficult to understand for both technician and customer. However, applying more does not provide better control; more is not better, it is certainly wasteful and usually expensive. Too often, insecticides are mixed by the gallon and wasted by the ounce.
This article focuses on ways to control application economics through reducing over application.
The Service Technician’s Field Manual
The methods, materials and expectations of professional pest control are changing, and today’s technicians, trainers, and training need to change along with them. The next generation service technician will need to know and understand substrates, dose transfer, the link between application technology and application economics, and the basics of delivery systems. And he or she will need to be able to relay this understanding to an ever-more knowledgeable and expectant customer.
In The Service Technician‘s Field Manual, author William H Robinson focuses on the technical training and skills that are, and will be, needed to work with these newly sophisticated customers, while sharing market insights about the latest equipment innovations and treatment techniques.
The manual is not intended to be a read-through from chapter to chapter, rather it groups topics to make it useful as a reference text and training manual, to keep basic and applied material together for easy reference, and to enable its use in training programs.
Bill Robinson has spent more than 30 years in research and teaching and has published more than 250 papers and articles on pests, pest control and application technology. He is chair of the Executive Committee of the International Conference on Urban Pests, and has been technical director of B&G Equipment Co. since 2000. Previous works include Urban Entomology (1995), and Urban Insects and Arachnids (2005).
The Service Technician’s Field Manual can be ordered from the PCT Bookstore (800/456-0707) for a special pre-publication price of $19.95 from now until Feb. 15.
Over Application. Over application occurs when more insecticide is applied than is necessary to achieve pest prevention or control. It can be a service technician spraying to run-off as liquid insecticide drips from a surface, dusting to produce a thick visible layer on the surface, re-tracing a spray pattern and over-applying to carpeting, or unnecessarily treating a section of baseboard or wall void. It may be only a few additional ounces of liquid or dust during a service call, but when it is routine with every service it becomes an expensive habit.
Over application of insecticides is a common and unrecognized practice in professional pest control. It is difficult to see because it is only a small amount, perhaps just ounces at a time. Modern application tools are lightweight, ergonomically designed and easy to use. However, a comfortable grip and a responsive valve trigger can be a problem as much as a benefit. Sometimes ease of squeezing a comfortable trigger can result in over application and extra cost.
Spraying liquid insecticide into or adjacent to pest harborages is a standard pest control practice. The application equipment combines pressurized tanks, valves and nozzles to deliver a measured amount. However, there can be considerable variability in application, due to the habits of the technician and the type and condition of the equipment.
Example: A technician services 15 accounts a day, and at each account applies insecticide for an extra 30 seconds with a coarse fan spray. In a single day, a gallon of insecticide is over applied, which is 20 gallons a month.
Surface Application. The objective of surface spraying is to establish a residue. Treating surfaces to the point of run-off is unnecessary; it wastes insecticide and increases costs. Control is achieved when a lethal amount is picked up on the feet of crawling insects, or a lethal concentration penetrates a porous surface, such as wood, to intercept larvae of wood-infesting beetles. A spray that produces a pattern of droplets on the surface can be effective and efficient. A crawling insect walking across the surface picks up a lethal dose of insecticide in a short distance of travel or short time on the treated surface.
Example: After a surface is sprayed to the point of being “wet,” German cockroaches walking on the dry residue are knocked down in 5.4 minutes. When the amount of insecticide applied is 200 times less than wet, the cockroaches are knocked down in 8.8 minutes. By applying 200 times less insecticide, the time to knockdown and kill increases by only 3 minutes, while the amount of insecticide used and cost is considerably less.
The coarse and fine fan sprays on standard nozzles are designed to deliver droplets to the treated surface. The pattern of dry droplet residue is sufficient for the transfer of a toxic dose of insecticide to the feet of any insect that walks on it. Within a short walking distance, a lethal dose is acquired. Spraying more does not increase efficacy, but does increase costs.
Crack-and-crevice Application. This is the most effective and efficient method for treating pest harborages. It treats only the surfaces regularly contacted by the pest, increases residual activity of the insecticide, and decreases exposure to people and pets. A crack-and-crevice (C&C) tip can be inserted into narrow openings to deliver a small amount of insecticide directly to concealed surfaces. The alternative treatment method is to use a pin-stream on the nozzle. This is less efficient and more expensive than a crack-and-crevice straw, as it is more likely to result in over application. Using a pin-stream for a C+C application is not cost effective because the flow rate (8.9 ounces per minute) of the pin-stream orifice is significantly higher than the crack-and-crevice straw (2 ounces per minute).
Example: Using a tank sprayer and C+C straw, a technician can treat 20 linear feet of baseboard in about 1 minute. About 2 ounces of insecticide are delivered while slowly pulling the C+C straw along the inner back of the baseboard. Using a pin stream to treat the baseboard, nearly 9 ounces of liquid would be applied, and some would splash on the wall during application. The extra 7 ounces is wasted and costly.
The objective of treating behind baseboards is to create a continuous band of insecticide residue on the void surfaces. This can be done by pulling the C+C straw along the inside of the void while spraying. Treating at intervals will leave untreated gaps on the surface and provide safe resting sites for pests.
Perimeter Application. Treatments of foundation walls and perimeter soil are typically done with a backpack sprayer because of the capacity and carrying convenience. Insecticide labels may recommend spraying 1 foot up the foundation wall and 1 foot out onto the soil. This can be done with a coarse fan spray and holding the nozzle 14 to 18 inches from the wall. However, a common practice is to use a pin-to-cone nozzle. These were not designed for treating flat surfaces and have a high flow rate, which can result in over application. The objective of perimeter treatments is to establish a barrier of insecticide residue on surfaces to prevent or reduce entry of crawling pests. A fan-spray provides a linear pattern of droplets without the circular overspray of a cone nozzle and the potential of drift to non-target surfaces.
Example: Label directions specify 1 gallon per 1,000 linear feet for perimeter application. Treatment can be done with a coarse fan spray (17 ounces per minute) and a 2 mph walking pace. A cone-spray nozzle can deliver 45 ounces per minute, which is more than 2.5 times the coarse fan delivery rate. Using the cone spray results in costly over application and does not give the 1-foot-up, 1-foot-out spray pattern.
Termite Control. Over application of liquid termiticide occurs when applicators are careless with the amount applied during each soil rod insertion, or when applicators use tools without trigger- or lever-action valves and directional nozzles. Soil rodding with a nozzle that has a flow rate of 2 gallons per minute requires a treatment time of 12 seconds for a 1-foot deep foundation, and 48 seconds for a 4-foot deep foundation. The lever-action on/off control on professional valves provides precision application. Soil rods with a ball-valve control are less responsive, requiring 1 to 2 seconds for the applicator to close the valve. This extra time may seem small, but can result in costly over application.
Example: Treatment of a house with 160 linear feet and a 4-foot deep foundation requires 48 seconds of liquid application for each soil rod placement. This would deliver the label rate of 4 gallons per 10 linear feet, or a total of 256 gallons. Taking an extra 2 seconds to close a ball-valve would deliver 266 gallons, or an expensive over application of 10 gallons.
The efficacy of modern-day termiticides depends on establishing a continuous (no untreated gaps) and uniform (concentration) zone of treated soil around a structure. This zone can be established by using tools and nozzles that compensate for various soil conditions and reduce unnecessary and costly over application.
Baits. Gel baits are an important component of ant and cockroach control programs, but their efficacy depends on consistent application. Using modern baits requires consistent delivery of small amounts, 0.25 to 0.5 grams, to pest harborages. Precise application increases control, eliminates waste and reduces overall operator costs. However, in spite of these benefits, operators may use bait guns that deliver variable size placements, instead of guns that are adjustable to ensure delivery of the same size placement with each pull of the trigger.
Example: A technician has a 30-gram syringe of cockroach bait and a variable delivery bait gun. Four accounts must be treated, each with 15 bait placements. One syringe will do all four using the label rate of 0.5 grams per placement. But with a little more trigger squeeze, placements can be 0.7 grams. Instead of 7.5 grams total bait for the first account, 10.5 grams is placed — an extra 3 grams. The second account gets the same treatment, again with 3 grams extra. At the third account, the syringe contains bait for only 13 placements, and no bait remains for the fourth account. Applying extra bait in each placement reduced the 60 placements per syringe to 43 placements.
Precision-application bait guns deliver a consistent amount of bait with each trigger pull. This enables technicians to treat inside infested harborages and achieve better control. It is not necessary to visually monitor every placement to ensure the correct amount. The economic benefits of using precision bait guns include: less time spent on application, less wasted bait due to over application, and more effective control.
Dusts. Over application of dust is common in professional pest control. Applying dust is like applying liquid: a thin layer of dust on the surface provides the most effective treatment. The physical nature of dust and the concentration of active ingredients are sufficient for a crawling pest to pick up a lethal dose with only limited contact. But dust is often difficult to see on treated surfaces, which can lead to the technician applying more. Over application can be unsightly and result in exposure to people and pets, but as important, it reduces efficacy.
Dust application is made unnecessarily difficult because of product label directions. The application rates are often presented in a format that promotes over application. Dust is delivered primarily as a crack-and-crevice application. However, on product labels the application rates are typically given in grams per square yard or pounds per 1,000 square feet. This is an inappropriate scale for indoor application. The practical solution to the confusion created by product labels is to convert square yards and square feet to linear feet, and to use a hand duster with a consistent delivery.
Example: A dust product label recommends 2 to 3 grams per 1 square yard, which can be converted to 2 to 3 grams per 4.3 linear feet. The B&G Bulb Dust-R delivers 1 gram per squeeze. To apply dust using this duster, 1 squeeze per linear foot will deliver the high rate (3 grams), and 1 squeeze per 2 linear feet will deliver the low rate (2 grams) on the product label.
To be effective and control cost, dust application has to be consistent from one technician to the next. The use of bulb dusters is subject to the habits of individuals and features of the unit, such as operational capacity and flexibility of the duster. Overfilling the bulb and excessive hand pressure can lead to costly and ineffective application.
Granules. The objective of perimeter treatment is continuous coverage of granules in a zone around and adjacent to the building. Achieving this without under or over applying depends on the equipment used. Handheld fertilizer spreaders can create a wide, broadcast-type pattern, easily applying twice the label rate. A piston-type applicator is better suited for perimeter treatment, as the delivery pattern is about 1.5 feet wide by 5 feet long. Because of this narrow treatment zone, the granule distribution is relatively uniform, which increases soil coverage and the potential for encounter with target pests and decreases the potential for costly over application.
William H Robinson is an accomplished author who has written several books for the pest management industry including Urban Entomology and Urban Insects and Arachnids.