U.S. Department of Labor
Process: Housekeeping Safety
Areas of Concern – Vermin Control
Vermin are pests or nuisance animals, such as insects, birds, and rodents that may create safety and health hazards for workers. Workers at outdoor worksites, as well as in enclosed spaces, have the potential for exposure to vermin. For example, those working near water are at risk of disease from mosquito populations if they are not adequately controlled. Birds and rodents can also transmit disease directly, as well as through their urine or feces. For information on vermin-related diseases, see http://www.hhs.gov and http://www.cdc.gov).
While it is not possible to prevent all vermin, especially birds and insects, from entering outdoor worksites, employers must implement and maintain an effective vermin-control program when vermin are detected (29 CFR 1915.88(j)(2)). Each control program will differ depending on the facility's needs and the type of vermin affecting the site. However, all programs should include strategies for training workers, sanitation practices, maintenance schedules, pre-approved control methods, and records management.
Employers should train workers on the facility's vermin-control procedures that include sanitation procedures (such as designated eating and food storage areas), detection of vermin, and reporting procedures. Depending on the level of responsibility assigned, the procedures should outline step-by-step strategies for addressing various vermin infestations.
An effective measure for preventing the infestation of vermin is to maintain the facility property and surrounding areas in a clean manner (29 CFR 1915.88(j)(1)). In doing so, employers must provide waste receptacles in appropriate quantity and of proper construction (29 CFR 1915.88(i)), and establish a regular schedule for emptying trash. Receptacles designated for containing food must be emptied at least every day unless they are unused (29 CFR 1915.88(i)(1)(iv)).
In addition to maintaining worksites in a sanitary condition, it is equally important to keep areas free from excessive clutter or materials. In situations where materials sit for long periods of time, the potential to harbor vermin increases. Excessive clutter not only prevents the early detection of such pests, but in outside areas clutter increases the likelihood of water collecting and becoming stagnant, leading to mosquito infestation.
The elimination of material storage for long durations may be difficult during the construction or repair of vessels, where material and equipment are often ordered in advance. In such cases, the following are recommended for storage:
- Place items on racks, at least 12 inches above the ground.
- Conduct site inspections on a regular basis.
- Stage items in a way that avoids the accumulation of water (e.g., tent or tarp).
- Frequently move equipment and materials as the job progresses (e.g., warehouse, shop, and vessel).
Housekeeping recommendations include:
- Remove scraps before they accumulate. Move these items to a dumpster, trash receptacle, or similar container following the completion of work (for longer jobs, the removal may need to take place after each shift or workday).
- Ensure that electrical boxes or other cabinets containing wiring are properly shut. Doors left ajar may allow water to intrude and vermin to enter these areas.
Vermin Control Methods
Employers should regularly monitor outdoor workspaces and other areas frequented by workers. This can either be performed by a worker designated by the employer or by a hired contractor. The employer and designated inspector should determine the specific areas that will be inspected ahead of time, as well as the frequency that will ensure the prevention of vermin infestation. A site log or other means of recordkeeping is recommended.
Where vermin infestation is detected, employers should select a control method by considering the type of vermin; size of the population; acceptable extermination control measures (pesticides or trapping); appropriate storage, transportation, and application of extermination methods; and disposal of the vermin. If measures such as glue-boards, traps, or pesticides are implemented, placement or application should be posted using a diagram or map. Where an employer makes structural, sanitary, or work procedure modifications to control vermin, these changes should be recorded as well.Further, all vermin sightings, including those reported by workers, should be recorded and thoroughly investigated to determine the severity of the situation.