Rats and insects in the workplace are unhygienic and may even break the law. If your workplace has no barriers between it and the environment outside, such as a building site or warehouse, it may be impossible to prevent rats and insects getting in. However, for many other workplaces, and particularly those where food is prepared, the presence of rats and insects is a very serious matter and could lead to the business being heavily fined or even closed down.
Learn to recognise the tell-tale signs of rat or insect infestation. The most obvious evidence of rats is actually seeing the rodents, but as rats are typically most active during the hours of darkness you may not see them if your workplace is only open during the day. Rats like to use specific pathways to move around so you may become aware of greasy marks on walls or the floor, or even footprints and tail swipe markings. Insects can be more obvious; for example cast skins, the remains of egg cases and small droppings on horizontal surfaces can be evidence of cockroach infestation.
Food Standards Agency
Inform the Food Standards Agency if you see rats or insects at work and your workplace prepares food. Environmental health officers from the Food Standards Agency periodically visit commercial premises where food is prepared to check on hygiene standards, but if you work in this kind of business and are concerned about rats or insects on the premises you can contact them directly. Officers work through local authorities across the United Kingdom. Use the search tool on the Food Standards Agency website to identify the council relevant to your place of work (see Resources).
More widely, Environmental Health inspectors can visit any type of workplace to identify whether there is a problem with rats and insects and, if necessary, provide guidance on how to resolve it. Sometimes advice is free, but commercially-operated businesses will usually have to pay for an inspector to visit and for any pest eradication work. Environmental health provision is the same whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, so contact the council responsible for the area your workplace is located in to inform them.
You can also contact a pest control agency directly to deal with the problem. All local councils in the United Kingdom have pest control officers who can visit your workplace to resolve the problem and provide advice on how to prevent the rats or insects returning. Council pest control officers usually offer a fixed-fee service or charge an hourly rate so you’ll have a clear understanding of how much it will cost. Alternatively, look for a local company offering pest control services by searching in a directory like the Yellow Pages (see Resources), but make sure the company you contact is a member of either the National Pest Control Technicians Association or the British Pest Contractor Association.