Facilities management businesses provide their clients with a wide range of commercial services, which include:
- Keeping commercial buildings clean
- Providing reception services
- Maintaining building systems for heating, cooling and electrical maintenance
- Providing catering arrangements
- Supplying stationery
- Providing pest control services
The challenge lies in the ability to deliver such diverse services promptly, efficiently and at high standards.
Understandably, it is therefore not always possible to have expertise in all these services and this is when outsourcing to specialist providers can help facilities management businesses deliver client requirements — such as pest control — and uphold their own reputations.
Introducing the pests
To begin to understand what pest control involves, I would like to introduce the main characters — the pests!
Simply scroll down to learn more about which of these pesky creatures infest commercial premises and how to detect their presence.
The mere sight of a rat can cause alarm and for good reason too.
Salmonellosis, Weil’s disease, leptospirosis and rat bite Typhoid fever are just some of the main rodent-borne diseases that can affect humans.
Rats can live on 15 to 30 grams of food and 15 to 60 ml of drink per day! Rats are most active between dusk and dawn therefore it is often easier to spot the signs of a rat problem, rather than an actual rodent.
Droppings, footprints (where luminous gel has been laid down), holes in walls bite marks (that these gnaw through using their teeth) and scratching noises are some of the tell-tale signs of rats being amok in a building.
Though these creatures have weak eyesight, their senses of hearing, smell and touch are heightened. Mice are a common pest globally and these can exist incognito within buildings for quite some time before their presence is detected.
Like rats, mice tend to nibble about 0.15gm from multiple sources in a night.
The indicators for detecting the presence of mice are similar to rats, ie droppings, urine pillars, footprints, grease marks, squeaking and scratching noises.
Commercial kitchens, canteens, cafes need to be particularly mindful of mice.
Birds can pose as a nuisance not only for littering the surrounding environments, ledges, and rooftops of buildings with their disease-causing droppings but also because of their tendency to roost and nest in alcoves and drains that can cause blockages.
Pigeon faeces, feathers and nests are not only the tell-tale signs that indicate their presence but can also carry microorganisms such as:
- Bird mites
As well as looking ghastly and causing much alarm to people who suddenly see these, the presence of cockroaches often denotes poor hygiene and sanitation.
Cockroaches feed on a wide range of foul, decaying matter, so can pick up many types of dangerous pathogens causing infectious diseases such as:
- Escherichia Coli
- Listeria monocytogens
Cockroaches can usually be found in places with food, moisture, shelter and warmth, such as:
- Boiler rooms
- Anywhere food is available
So, it is important that people working in commercial buildings take adequate measures in storing and protecting food items.
Hailing from the Cimicidae family of insects, bed bug infestations have risen drastically in the past few decades worldwide. According to the biennial Bugs Without Borders survey in 2015, 99.6% of respondents (who were pest professionals in the US) had treated for bed bugs at:
- care homes
- boarding schools
- residential properties
Bed bugs can enter properties through:
- clothing and luggage
- laundry services
- external contractors
- secondhand or antique furniture
Adult bed bugs are usually 4-5 millimetres long with oval or flat structures and reddish brown in colour. The nymphs are much smaller and lighter coloured.
In terms of potential health risks, bed bugs can bite their (human) hosts as they need the blood to complete their life cycle. Bed bug bites resemble insect bites.
Mosquitoes are known to be carriers of dangerous diseases — such as malaria, dengue, Zika virus, Chikungunya — and businesses in regions with high mosquito density need to therefore ensure that their working environments in commercial premises have the suitable protection in place to keep employees safe.
It can take a mere 6-10 days for mosquitoes eggs to develop into adults which can be found close to standing water where their larvae are likely to breed.
Normally associated with domestic pets, fleas can infest properties as a result of there being other pests, such as rats, mice and birds, being present within the vicinity.
Fleas are about 2 millimetres long and reddish-brown in colour. Flea eggs, however, are difficult to spot, because these are tiny, about 0.5 millimetres long, oval in shape and white in colour. This makes it almost impossible to see them against rough surfaces and materials.
Flea bites may not be particularly painful but these can cause itchiness around the bite and may lead to allergic reactions, such as rashes and eczema. Fleas can carry diseases such as bubonic plague, murine typhus and tularemia.
Ants are more a nuisance than a hazard. If ants are sighted in commercial places that handle food, their business reputations could be questioned.
As ants are very small in size (ie between 1.5 – 6 millimetres long, depending on the species), their nests could easily be overlooked as spilt dirt or soil. Some ant types like to make their nests in quiet places, such as walls, where they are less likely to get noticed.
Ants thrive on food, food waste and water, so premises such as restaurants, pubs, cafes, canteens, hospitals, offices and warehouses need to be kept sanitised to the highest hygiene standards in order to prevent and control their presence.
Stored Product Insects (SPIs)
Beetles, weevils and moths are the main pests that can be found in stored food products.
Some mites infest and contaminate stored food products, such as cheese, flour, nuts, dried eggs, fruit, dried vegetable material and tobacco. Closely related to ticks, they are microscopic in size.
For such reasons, house flies pose a health risk and a nuisance. This could also mean economic and reputational loss for businesses if good food hygiene is not practised. House flies are attracted to sites that are contaminated with faeces and other filth, to feed on and breed. As a result, they pick up disease-causing organisms and can contaminate food sources that are left open.
Pest control solutions for facilities management businesses
As we glean from the above pest insights, if a pest infestation occurs in a commercial building, there are potential health risks to all those who work in it.
Having a long-term relationship with a commercial pest control supplier is beneficial because they can advise your facilities management business on suitable pest control actions (such as Rentokil’s Integrated Pest Management) and preventative measures to have within commercial premises.
This way, the pest issues haunting your facilities management business can be brought under control. Always.