The Value of a Fall Risk Assessment

Oct 26, 2019, 10:53 AM by Fred Speer

The pest management programs Clark Pest Control deploys are based on integrated pest management (IPM) principles. These principles focus heavily on solving a facility’s pest problems, not with more bait stations or pesticide applications, but through careful use of data and trend reports, and correcting structural, cultural and sanitation issues.

How does Clark gather all the information to make its recommendations and identify solutions? It starts with a risk assessment of your facility.

Having a risk assessment done is the first step in developing an IPM program, and when done regularly and properly, it will continuously improve a plant’s existing pest management programs. It is a proactive vs. reactive approach to safeguarding your facility and its contents from harmful pests.


What Is A Risk Assessment?

Defined as “the scientific evaluation of known or potential adverse health effects resulting from human exposure to foodborne hazards" a risk assessment is a task meant to evaluate and assess a facility’s IPM program.

A true risk assessment is NOT just an inventory of control and monitoring devices within a facility or a means to report how many rodents or insects were caught or killed in that time period.

Risk assessments will help identify why was a pest was present and the root cause of the problem. The information provided in a risk assessment can be used to help adjust and improve existing pest programs.

With the U.S. FDA’s FSMA requirements emphasizing that a science-based risk assessment be performed, plant managers would be wise to deploy this proactive strategy to keep their facility pest-free and in compliance. Note: Virtually all audit schemes require a risk assessment including FSMA, GFSI (BRC, SQF, etc.), cGMPs, etc.


Why Is Fall A Good Time to Conduct A Risk Assessment?

We tapped into the extensive knowledge of Clark Service Manager Lance Van Zant, A.C.E.,

to get his insights on why fall is a good time to have a risk assessment done in your facility and on what frequency should they be done.

Van Zant: Weather has a lot to do with the need for a fall risk assessment. With cooler weather on the horizon, pest activity increases both outside and inside structures. Pests are trying to get in where it’s warmer. Occasional invaders, rodents, ants, cockroaches, etc. will look to find a way in to survive the winter.

Historical trends show an increase in rodent activity in October and November, and risk assessments help us evaluate the risks and adjust a client’s IPM program to be proactive with the projected increase in rodent activity.

For example, we can increase the amount of rodent monitoring devices, recommend changes to the environment (trimming trees, weed control, etc.), and communicate all conducive conditions/corrective actions to clients to help prevent an occurrence from happening.


How Often Should A Risk Assessment Be Done?

Van Zant: FSMA, GFSI schemes (BRC, SQF, etc.) and other cGMPs require an annual risk assessment to be completed or anytime when changes have been made in the facility (new buildings, processes, etc.). Because a lot can happen in a few months, including changes in weather, pest cycles, etc., Clark prefers to assess the program quarterly. The more you evaluate the trends in pest activity and assess the program, the more changes you can make to improve the program. It also validates our treatments, changes, and IPM program/service.

What’s Involved in the Process?

A risk assessment is an interactive process that includes a close examination of the entire property and existing documentation. It is also a shared responsibility of both the client and pest services provider.

Risk assessments are only one component of a successful integrated pest management plan, which also includes proper implementation, management, and communication. Elements of a risk assessment can include, but may not be limited to, the following:

•          Audit preparation
•          Monitoring
•          Control measures
•          Corrective actions
•          Documentation

A risk assessment answers the following important question: Does the current IPM program help prevent pests from harming the product and public?


The risk assessment is meant to be used as a tool to assist in analyzing, creating, and maintaining a successful plan in commercial facilities. The facility assessment does not provide an exhaustive list of potential pest problems, but merely is a starting point. Additionally, each facility is unique, which may present entirely different considerations and potential pest problems.


The risk assessment process will include inspection of the following interior and exterior areas of a facility:




Exterior Areas


  • Are there unmaintained weeds, grasses, and brush in areas around the facility that may be conducive to harboring pests?
  • Are there weeds or other material along the fence line that may harbor rodents?
  • Has rodent burrowing has been observed around the building?
  • Is there standing water on the building grounds that may be conducive to attracting pests (e.g., mosquitoes, small rodents, etc.)?
  • Is there spillage, exposure, and/or accumulation of waste in garbage containment area?
  • Are there conditions conducive to fly infestations in the garbage containment area?
  • Are there gaps under and/or around exit doors that may allow pest entry (a gap equal or greater than 1/4” in diameter allows the entry of mice and arthropods)?
  • Are there broken, open, or unscreened windows or vents?
  • Are there holes, cracks, and/or crevices near window and door frames or in the exterior walls?
  • Are there potential pest entry points around plumbing and/or electrical service pipes and lines?
  • Are there birds nesting/roosting on or in the building(s)?
  • Are there conducive conditions posed by equipment and material stored near the building that could provide harborage for pests?
  • Are there fluorescent lights used on or near the building that may attract night-flying insects?
  • Are there conducive conditions that may require additional rodent stations?


Interior Storage Areas

  • Are there holes or cracks in the walls that could serve as harborage for pests?
  • Are there gaps around the platform floor-wall junction and ceiling-wall junction that could provide pests with hiding and breeding sites?
  • Are there dirty drains that could provide conditions conducive for pests to breed?
  • Are there missing or cracked floor grouting or tiles that could provide conditions conducive to pests through an accumulation of water or debris?
  • Is there standing water present that could create conditions attractive to pests?
  • Is there a risk from inadequate storage practices of products (e.g., products are stored directly on the floor and not elevated off the ground on pallets, etc.)? Inadequate storage of products can prevent pest monitoring and inspection practices, prevent proper cleaning of food spillage, and provide inaccessible hiding places for pests?
  • Is there a lack of inspection area due to the absence of an 18” inspection aisle along all interior walls?
  • Are there broken, exposed, and/or spilled products present that could attract pests?
  • Are there conditions conducive to interior pest activity?


Interior Receiving and Shipping Areas

  • Are there conditions conducive to pest infestation in the carrier vehicles (dirty and unmaintained carrier vehicles can provide pests with food and hiding places)?
  • Is there a risk of pest introductions resulting from inadequate incoming rodent and insect inspection procedures for all incoming products?
  • Are there conditions conducive to pest breeding sites developing underneath dock levelers?
  • Are there conditions conducive to pest entry through dock doors left open when not in use?
  • Are there accumulations of over-aged products conducive to attracting pests (products that are received first should be used or shipped first – FIFO: first in, first out)?
  • Are there accumulations of empty cartons and cases that are conducive to attracting pests that seek a hiding place?

If you are looking for a pest management partner that understands your business and can help you design and deliver an effective pest management program, give Clark Pest Control a call at (800) 936-3339.