Pest control can account for up to 20% of an audit score, so it can be a huge boost if you and your staff are willing to put in some time and effort.
There are two main things that every facility needs in order to maximize the chances of acing the pest control section of your next audit, and they have to work together for best results. These two components of pest management are an integrated pest management (IPM) program and proper documentation specifically showing risked-based corrective and preventive actions.
IPM programs aim to suppress pest pressure throughout a facility. In doing so, a strong IPM program emphasizes using eco-friendly prevention and exclusion tactics over chemical solutions, which should be used only as a last resort in targeted applications. The idea is that these tactics should be implemented and practiced on a daily basis as part of a facility’s overall sanitation and maintenance policy. Pest management works best when all staff is on board and doing a little bit each day to help keep inquisitive pests away.
To make things easier for staff, try giving them tasks that are most relevant to their position within the company. For instance, maintenance staff could check around the outside of the facility for cracks or holes. Engineers that work on machinery could check for leaky pipes and spills that might attract insects as well.
Communicate frequently and consistently to make sure everyone is on the same page and aware of the high risk areas. In other words, make it easy for your staff to participate, and it will help make your job easier when the auditor comes around.
As for documentation, keep records together and organized. Auditors like to see documentation for everything, especially if you have an IPM program in place, because it helps to show them that your business takes a proactive approach to pest management based on risk analysis.
There are a number of pieces that you’ll need documentation for during an audit. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to have a food safety plan that identifies potential risks to food items, enumerates the steps and processes being executed to mitigate those risks, identifies monitoring procedures, and lists the reactionary actions to be taken if a pest issue does occur.
Here are some other forms of documentation that you’ll want to keep on hand for your next audit:
1) Training and Certification
You need to prove that your pest management professional is properly trained and certified if you want to earn a perfect score on your next audit. These three forms will help:
• Valid registration or certification document.
• Written evidence that your pest management professional has been trained to fulfill the needs of your custom IPM program.
• Evidence of training on IPM and good manufacturing practices (GMPs).
2) Service and Material Changes
An IPM program is tailored to a facility’s specific needs, taking into account the high risk areas inside, its geographic location, and the pest pressures faced in the past. But, over time, a facility’s needs change. As new technology emerges and business needs shift, the strategies and tactics of your IPM program will change, too. When this does occur (and it will eventually) you’ll want to carefully document any changes to your IPM program so that there aren’t any discrepancies when you present documents to an auditor.
3) Pest Monitoring Devices and Traps
Monitoring devices and traps are a great way to gauge the differing levels of pest pressures around a facility in order to identify high risk areas. But while these tools are incredibly helpful in identifying and preventing pests, they also require careful documentation. Your pest management professional knows where these devices and traps are located around your facility and should use them to detail pest activity on a regular basis.
Having these devices around your facility shows an auditor that you are mindful of the fact that pests may be anywhere, even with a top-notch IPM program. That being said, it’s best to keep the following details on file to show that all devices and traps are well-maintained:
• When and how often monitoring devices and traps are checked.
• Type and quantity of any pests found.
• Corrective actions taken to reduce and manage pest issues.
4) Pest Sighting Reports
Immediate actions need to be taken when a pest sighting occurs. Take careful, detailed notes about what kind of pest was seen, how many there were, and where the sighting occurred. Record the actions taken to resolve the issue and make sure to continue monitoring the area even after the issue has been resolved.
If you really want to impress, work with your pest management provider to create a trend report that will help identify potential hot spots and show which pests are the biggest problems for your facility. You want to be as upfront as possible with an auditor, so being able to show how you’ve resolved pest sightings demonstrates a proactive and effective IPM program.
5) Annual Pest Management Assessments
Keep track of past annual assessments and record the actions taken to resolve previous pest problems. Your pest management provider should be conducting annual inspections, and for good reason. Auditors are looking for these facility assessments, so you’ll want to make sure that you’ve shown improvement and have fixed or are working to fix the pest issues detailed in past reports. Using annual assessments to create goals also gives you and your employees some clear objectives to strive for, so try to keep them top of mind.
If you keep all of these documents handy and continuously work to improve your IPM program a little bit at a time, you won’t have to worry as much the next time an auditor comes around. All it takes is a proactive, team approach and pest management can get you some valuable points toward your audit score.