Building a new facility or renovating your current one? There’s a lot to consider when designing your new space, especially when it comes to pest management.
First and foremost, the ability to clean all areas of your facility — be it underneath machinery, in the cracks and crevices between walls and storage, or within the machinery/structures themselves — needs to be included in the planning process from the start.
Keep in mind that sanitary design for a new space will help save time and effort down the road by making it easier to clean up and eliminate the food, as moist and sheltered areas attract pests the most. While this should be considered as part of any current Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, it’s often overlooked when designing a new area.
If you don’t consider sanitary design in the planning phase, it may be too late to fix once you’ve installed machinery. If that’s the case, your facility will be set up for future pest issues. And with pests comes the risk of dangerous pathogens being spread around a facility. Don’t let this be the case. Consider the following even if you’re simply looking to make changes to the design of your current facility layout.
Facility structure and lighting
Pest management should be a consideration from the ground up. It’s worth the investment to use materials that will hold up over time. For example, high quality door sweeps and permanent seals (versus temporary foam) can prevent pests from gaining access.
Older facilities likely have structural issues like wall voids, ledges and crevices, which are perfect for harboring pests. It’s worth having an inspection of your facilities, especially if you haven’t in the last few months, to ensure there aren’t any high-risk areas of this nature. There’s a good chance these areas have been overlooked for a while and could use a deep clean.
Once the structure of your facility is built for success, you need to consider the lighting installed both inside and outside the building. There’s no reason to attract additional pests to your facility if you can easily install different lighting to prevent it. It’s recommended to use sodium vapor lights on the outside of your building. Lights should not be directly over personnel or dock doors. If possible, lights should not be installed on the building itself, but pointed toward the structure for illumination. That way, the brightest point of the light will attract insects up and away from the building while still providing enough light source on the building. Inside the building, lights can still attract insects if they are near enough to windows. Consider using solid doors, covering windows or installing motion-activated lights so they aren’t on all night.
At any facility, it’s important to establish positive air flow, which means that air is flowing outward through any doors and windows instead of flowing into the facility.
Pests, especially flying pests, are often swept into facilities with negative air flow. Many flying pests aren’t strong flyers, so a strong breeze can be enough to drift them inside your facility.
If you’re unsure if your facility has positive air flow, try the following: stand in an open doorway when there’s no breeze and hold up a sheet of paper vertically. If it blows toward the inside of your facility, then you have negative air flow and face a greater risk of pests.
Establishing proper air flow also means ensuring a facility has proper circulation. Without good circulation, it’s more likely that moisture and odors will be able to linger and draw pests indoors.
Consider working with an HVAC professional to ensure you’re getting the best possible results for your buildings. An air flow system should always decrease the intensity of heat, moisture and humidity within your facility. Not only will proper airflow reduce pest attractants, but it can also help mitigate the spread and growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Cleaning equipment and spacing
All areas beneath and behind equipment need to be accessible. Avoid the temptation to squeeze additional machines into tight spaces. Otherwise, it can be impossible to clean. It might not sound like a big deal, but the more food and moisture buildup around your machinery, the more pests will be attracted.
That goes for the inside of your machinery, too. It’s easy to spot the buildup on the manufacturing floor, but what about in the cracks and crevices within equipment? Pests don’t need a big gap to gain access. Cockroaches, for example, can fit through a gap a quarter of an inch, while even a larger pest like a mouse can fit through a gap the size of a dime. While you probably can’t get into each piece of equipment on a daily basis, make a point to include these areas on your regular sanitation schedule.
If possible, upgrade to easily-serviced equipment and make sure your staff are aware they need to regularly check and clean the insides of machinery. This might add a few minutes to the weekly or monthly cleaning schedule but will be well worth it in the long run.
Dumpsters, trash cans and other waste disposal areas are a haven for pests if not maintained properly.
Every single trash receptacle within a facility should have a lid to prevent odors from emanating constantly throughout the day. They should also have the waste within them removed and taken outside to the dumpster at least daily, if not more frequently depending on the volume of waste your facility is producing. Don’t forget to wash out trash bins on a regular basis as food and liquids can sometimes get through the liner bags.
Dumpsters should be kept as far away from the building as possible. Dumpsters serve as a “jumping off” point for pests to get indoors. They’ll feed and reproduce until they either become attracted to something inside your facility or get in through open doors, which is a recipe for infestation. Ensure your waste management company knows to come by and empty the dumpster on a regular basis so trash and debris are not overflowing and spilling out. Wait any longer, and you’re sure to find pests breeding inside. Once waste is removed, consider using a cleaner to remove lingering particles and break down residual material.
Don’t forget about the outdoors. It’s still important to clean up around the outside of the facility.
Clutter, like cardboard boxes or piles of leaves, is a perfect home for pests. It gives them the cover that they need to hide out while they search for food. Overgrown shrubs and foliage near your building can have this same effect and serve as another “jumping off” point.
Trim back branches and plants at least three feet away from your facility’s exterior to reduce the risk of pests. Be especially careful if there are fallen branches or dead trees, as these can attract termites. Installing a vegetation-free gravel strip around the outside of your facility will help deter pests as well.
The most important thing to recognize about sanitary design is that it’s never too early to start planning. And it’s never too late to make positive changes. Every little bit helps and minimizing the risk of pests inside your facilities will help protect your products and bottom line in the long run.