Employers need to ‘rats’ to the danger of rat poison and get an owl

Poison-based vermin control a danger to workers, the public and wildlife

Using rat poison to control vermin on commercial premises is ineffective, dangerous and should be used as sparingly as possible to protect staff and their surroundings, while encouraging birds of prey to do the job for free.

That’s the opinion of a leading UK employment law consultancy which thinks that the risk of using rat poison is outweighed by the dangers to employees and the environment. Rat poison also does little to deter that other persistent pest – the pigeon.

According to the Protecting.co.uk consultancy, growing immunity to poisons often means the creature doesn’t die immediately, and may lie decomposing on premises for weeks or months causing potential health dangers. Not only is this a risk to staff, but also to a company’s bank balance should an incident result in legal or health problems.

“Uncontrolled use of rat poison is proving largely ineffective as numbers of vermin continue to grow,” says Protecting.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, “Add to that the problems caused by nesting pigeons and you’ve got a real animal problem.”

Protecting.co.uk recognises the challenges faced by companies when it comes to securing their premises against vermin, and in some cases carefully controlled poisoning may be the solution. With pest control contracts costing around £1,000 per year, companies should investigate all avenues before making a decision.

It’s worth bearing in mind that a rat that doesn’t die immediately when poisoned can crawl away and expire in an inaccessible corner of a shop, warehouse or factory where its body will decompose. If this happens in be in ventilation ducting or near a food production area, the dangers are clear, Protecting says.

“An employer’s first duty is to the health and safety of his or her staff,” says Mark Hall, “And many an outbreak has been caused by a poisoned pigeon in a water tank, or a rat dying in a larder.”

Poisons also have a habit of getting into the food chain, with disastrous effects for birds of prey which are a natural predator for rats and pigeons, and have controlled their numbers for centuries.

“It may sound a bit Harry Potter, but encouraging owls and other raptors to nest near your business could do the job for free,” says Hall.

“We know of at least one major business who used to spend a fortune on poisons and pigeon spikes, but these have been abandoned since raptors and other predators were encouraged onto their grounds,” Hall says. “It’s greener, cleaner and a circling bird over the car park gives the staff something to marvel at during their cigarette breaks.”

Protecting.co.uk knows that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for all companies to the problem of winged or four-legged vermin. What does make sense, though, is protecting staff and the environment from the perils of poison overuse.

“It’s not just the health of staff and customers that’s at stake,” says Hall. “It’s your health, too.”