SIMPLY THE PEST How to get the best from your PCOs
Published by Jo Foster for BASIS (Registration) Ltd in Health and also in Communities, Education, Environment, Local Government
Rob Simpson, Managing Director of BASIS
Independent standards body BASIS is urging local authorities to make sure Pest Control Operatives (PCOs) are up to date with the latest techniques, legislation and labelling.
BASIS co-ordinates the BASIS PROMPT membership scheme, which ensures the continuing professional development (CPD) of those taking part.
Standard-setting and auditing organisation BASIS set up the programme to help PCOs keep abreast of best practice, technological advances, regulatory changes and labelling information.
Rob Simpson, Managing Director of BASIS, said: “You might have hired the best PCOs in the land five years ago, but without ensuring their constant professional development, your service could be suffering.
“We work very closely with the pesticide and allied sectors as well as industry and regulatory bodies to drive up standards, and BASIS PROMPT is a key part of that work.”
The BASIS PROMPT scheme is a voluntary scheme for qualified pest controllers (applicants must hold the RSPH/BPCA Level 2 Award in Pest Management or Level 2 Certificate in Pest Control or equivalent). Full members of the scheme are expected to collect 20 CPD points each year through attending trade shows and events, in-house training events, manufacturer-organised or distributor-organised seminars and updates, online or distance learning schemes and paid-for training seminars. Highlights of the forthcoming year include training on wildlife management, public health insects, urban bird control, bees, wasps and fox control, as well as breakfast networking meetings.
One local authority already making the most of the scheme is Manchester City Council. The council’s 16-strong Pest Control Service Technicians provide the council’s domestic and housing pest control service, public health approach work as well as offering a commercial service to local businesses. The team also deliver in partnership with United Utilities the city’s sewer baiting.
All the service team are members of BASIS PROMPT and have been since the start of 2012. Manchester City Council Pest Control Services Manager Michael Fowler comments “For us, BASIS PROMPT is about demonstrating that we are a professional body and all our service staff have current up to date service and treatment knowledge with encouragement and support for technicians ‘self’ professional development being forefront and the service delivering relevant knowledge based updates and training where required.”
Michael adds, “A lot of people within the city want to use local authority services as they are trusted and that we have a proactive approach towards ‘Public Health’ within the City. Like most services within the current environment the service is responsible for income generation to cover the services costs and being registered with BASIS PROMPT demonstrates that we are a professional establishment with the proper training to support our residents and businesses with quality and professional service provision.”
BASIS managing director Rob Simpson agrees. “BASIS has been involved in CPD schemes for at least 20 years. I think it’s vitally important to be able to demonstrate a level of professionalism and for people to see that a professional job is being done.” Moreover, he adds, “In terms of the pest controller’s feelings of worth, it’s important that they know they have achieved a professional standard, recognised throughout the industry.”
A pest control customer, says Simpson, wants to know that the technicians they are dealing with are competent and not going to rip them off. A BASIS PROMPT technician will have his PROMPT ID card with them at all times and be able to demonstrate they are trained and professional.”
An additional consideration is the plain fact that a technician who qualified in 2005 might be perfectly competent at their job but not necessarily kept themselves up to date with changes in anticoagulant rodenticide (for example) or changes to bait box usage. One good example is the recent changes to the rat, rabbit and mole product Talunex. Burrows, runs and harbourages cannot now be treated unless they are 10 metres away from any building occupied by man or animals. Previous rules stated three metres. Without regular training, a pest controller may remain blissfully unaware of these changes but be perfectly able to continue operating.
Membership for the BASIS PROMPT scheme costs £10 (+VAT) per applicant for an initial registration fee, plus an annual renewal fee of £30 (+VAT) (or £25 + VAT for members of the British Pest Control Association, National Pest Technicians Association and UK Pest Controllers Organisation). Applicants who have passed the RSPH Level 2 in Pest Control examination will qualify automatically for entry onto the register free of charge in the year that they pass their examination and will not need to pay a membership fee for the rest of that year.
Rob Simpson says it’s vital for local authorities to back the scheme. “Authorities have a responsibility to their rate payers to use qualified and well-trained pest controllers and to make sure they are doing things properly.” This is not only better for the pest controller and the public but also good for business too. He adds, “If a pest controller is doing the job properly they will use the right amount of bait for the job. If they don’t, this can prove not cost effective. It’s important we have pest controllers doing their job efficiently and responsibly.”
Says Michael Fowler, “We are focused on developing our staff so they operate to the best professional standards. Why wouldn’t we want them to be BASIS PROMPT members?”
For more information and to sign up to the scheme, please visit www.basis-reg.com