Pest control operators have unique risks and exposures due to the nature of the pesticides they work with. The commercial use of toxic chemicals is highly regulated, however, exposure to toxic chemicals during storing, transporting and disposal can result in injury or illness. If spills occur, containers leak, labels are removed or if untrained employees have access to materials, the risk of injury or illness is even greater.
To prevent unnecessary injury, illness and claims from hazardous exposure to toxic chemicals, consider the following safety practices:
- Store chemicals in well-ventilated, well-lit areas with a locked entrance. Check Safety Data Sheets (SDS) regarding the proper storage procedures for each chemical on-site.
- Store chemicals away from personal protective equipment (PPE), especially respirators.
- Know what chemicals are incompatible and keep them away from each other.
- Be mindful that some chemicals contain solvents that can escape into the air and release harmful vapors unless their containers are properly sealed.
- Store chemicals only in their original manufactured containers with the original labels. If a chemical’s label should come off, replace it immediately.
- Place clean-up tools close to the chemical storage facility—these include water, soil, absorbent pillows and sand.
- Keep pesticides separate from animal feed, fertilizer, seeds, water and incompatible chemicals.
- Do not transport chemicals with animal feed, food, water or incompatible chemicals.
- Secure chemicals in their proper containers on the vehicle before proceeding so they cannot move, fall or break.
- Keep a detailed record of the chemicals being transported.
- While transporting hazardous substances, bring the appropriate PPE for handling purposes.
- Before dumping any chemical, read through the SDS and the manufacturer’s label regarding toxicity to animals and plants. Also, note the proper way to dispose of any leftover substances and containers.
- Rinse the container at least three times to remove all traces of the substance. Then, crush the empty container.
- Empty hazardous waste containers require special handling. Familiarize yourself and follow appropriate hazardous waste recycling procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.
The following are the most common exposures faced by pest control operations associated with the use, storage and transportation of toxic chemicals:
- Property—Property exposures arise from storage of chemical applications at the operation. Any flammable chemicals must be properly labeled, separated and stored in approved containers, cabinets and rooms.
- Inland marine—Exposures come from the transport of equipment, chemicals and supplies to the customer’s premises.
- Premises liability—This can be a concern during the process of applying chemicals. Have all customers received proper instructions on controls regarding children, food and pets while the application is in progress? Are premises checked before application is done to make sure the property is evacuated? Are all technicians licensed and certified for the chemicals being applied?
- Environmental liability—Disposal, improper application and cleanup controls must all be carefully reviewed. Completed operations may have high exposure to loss. Were the chemicals properly applied? Were all warnings and follow-up procedures explained? Chemical exposure can cause severe bodily injury from both a completed operations and a workers’ compensation standpoint.
- Commercial auto—This is another common exposure due to the transport of chemicals. Age, training, experience and records of the drivers, as well as the age, condition and maintenance of the vehicles, are all important items to consider. Employees may need HazMat licenses for some chemicals used.
- Workers’ compensation—Pest Control technicians can experience lung, eye or skin irritations and reactions to the chemicals. Are all workers using protective gear? Is it mandatory to do so? What controls are in place? Slip and fall can occur during application. Lifting, back injury, hernia and sprain and strain are all common occurrences.
It’s important to work with an insurance advisor to make sure your business is protected against the potentially costly claims and losses of the named exposures with a comprehensive insurance and risk management program tailored towards your specific needs.
For an expert consultation or information on insurance and risk management solutions, please contact Weisburger Insurance Brokerage at 800-431-2794, [email protected], or visit our site at www.weisburger.com. Weisburger, a division of Program Brokerage Corporation, is the nationally endorsed insurance broker of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). With over 80 years of experience, our experts are able to review your current coverage and identify ways to best protect your pest control business during the dips and peaks of the industry.
BY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, WEISBURGER INSURANCE BROKERAGE