Schools must manage pests to prevent injury, disease and damage to property, maintain buildings in sound condition, minimise disruption to teaching and sporting activities and prevent the spread of pests from the school into the surrounding community and environment. This guideline has been prepared to provide information on methods of pest control and minimising the risks that the use of pesticides in schools may present.
What is the risk?
The first step in the pest control process is to understand the conditions pests need to survive, reproduce and spread, predict which pests may create problems and the time and location these problems are most likely to occur. Eg. Rats and mice are known to cause great damage to buildings and equipment. On top of the danger of disease, rodents also pose a fire hazard due to their ability to chew through electrical wiring and cables. Mice and rats are most active during the night. They prefer to live indoors in false ceilings, wall and floor voids.
Who is at risk?
- Maintenance/ground staff
Once the pest has been identified you should find the most effective control method that presents the least risk to the environment and human health.
Such methods include:
- Mechanical controls – mechanical pest control is the management of pests using physical means such as fences, barriers, or screens. It also includes methods such as trapping or weeding
- Managerial controls – include hygiene and sanitation, regular inspection and monitoring, landscaping to remove areas for pests to hide (eg. snakes in debris, tyres)
- Chemicals – if you need to use a pesticide, choose the least persistent and least toxic chemical
- Example Control strategies for rodents - eliminate food and water sources, waste management practices, exclusion by rodent proofing structures and landscaping, trapping, or the least-hazardous chemical method of closed bait stations.
Minimising the Risks from Pesticides
The public’s concern about health risks associated with chemicals is increasing, particularly when children are involved. Schools should become aware of the pest control options available to them and take steps to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. The main way that this can be done is to time the application to minimise human exposure to the pesticide. School holidays or weekends are ideal but check whether outside groups are using school facilities at these times. It is also recommended to keep a written record of numbers of baits laid and recovered to prevent them being forgotten or missed. If baits are left for long periods they can deteriorate into a powdery form that can be inhaled.