Taking advantage of an annual assessment

Nov 18, 2020, 09:16 AM by Fred Speer

The calendar tells facility and QA managers that it’s time to schedule a year-end review to see how their pest management programs are performing, and where improvements can be made.

The year-end review embodies two distinctly different elements – a program review, and an annual risk assessment. What’s the difference between the two? It’s more than semantics.

A program review is an opportunity for facility and QA managers to sit down with their pest management service provider to share successes and failures of the current pest program over the past year. A program review lets the client and pest professional know where they stand.

“Clients should provide honest feedback to their pest management partner about what’s working and what’s not,” says Dan Collins, director of pest management at Rose Acre Farms, a producer of shell eggs and egg products, and former owner of Collins Pest Management in Evansville, Indiana. “It’s also a time to share their expectations of the program.”

The information gathered in the review should be followed up with a physical risk assessment of the facility. A risk assessment looks to identify areas where the pest management program can be improved and greater efficiencies can be gained. It also can spot new or potential hazards that could negatively affect the performance of the plan.

A risk assessment includes several interconnected elements:

  • What pests are, or may be, present in the facility?
  • What potential adverse health effects may occur due to the pests’ presence?
  • What is the likelihood that exposure will create a health problem?
  • How great is the risk?

What topics should be covered during a risk assessment? Collins recommends covering the following:

  • - Is the facility physically expanding or doing any major renovation work?

  • - Is the facility adding a new product line or introducing new ingredients?

  • - Has a cleaning or sanitation protocol been changed?

  • - Is there a new product inventory or incoming shipment inspection process?

A change to any one of these could adversely affect a pest management program.

“Anytime an operation or physical alteration is made to a facility, management must [make] their pest management partner aware of it,” says Collins. “Even the smallest detail can impact the effectiveness of their program.”

Collins points to a former client – a pharmaceutical plant – that decided to update their air-handling system and install a new dust collector for a tablet processing room.

The contractor installed sheet metal but failed to properly seal the area where the system vented out to the roof. That miscue resulted in thousands of clover mites making their way inside the room, which forced a plant shutdown. The resulting hassle of stopping production and putting product at risk incurred significant financial losses.

According to Collins, this example illustrates the critical need to communicate throughout the year, not just at year end.  

“It reinforces the value of having an open, ongoing dialogue,” Collins says, “as well as including in-person assessments on an annual basis, or whatever schedule that fits your facility’s needs.”

Conducting regular program reviews and risk assessments also aligns with mandates of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which calls for a preventive approach to pest management.

Setting aside time – an all-too precious commodity for facility and QA managers – to schedule an annual program review and/or risk assessment may seem like a daunting challenge, but the rewards are well worth it.

“Program reviews and risk assessments provide the opportunity to identify existing as well as potential issues and establish a path forward to creating solutions that benefit everyone,” Collins says. “Investing the time to make this happen will benefit you, your clients, and their customers.”

If your company is looking for a pest management partner that understands your business, and can help you protect your products, employees, and customers, call Clark Pest Control at (800) 936-3339.

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