Once You Are In, You Are Involved

Thursday August 16, 2012


Mr Pest Control


I do work with a property management company for general pest control. A new job looks like bed bugs from my inspection looking at the mattress and around for the traces of bed bugs. I give the tenant glue boards and give advice on what to do (mattress encasements, everything in the room washed in hot water and bagged before I treat, and the other steps needed.) I want to help as much as possible without get stuck with liability. Any suggestions on how to handle liability?

Mr Pest Control


Liability just comes with the job, and not just with bed bugs. If you are contracted to eliminate roaches from a restaurant and a customer finds a roach in their salad, and just happens to feel like suing someone, they will sue everyone involved who should have prevented that roach from existing in that restaurant. If you contract with a hospital to eliminate ants and someone finds ants crawling on their elderly mother who is hospitalized there, the liability exists because YOU were supposed to keep that from happening. This is Life In America today. 

Bed bugs may be even worse because the legal industry has discovered how lucrative it can be. Since bed bugs had to be in a home because they hitchhiked from someplace recently visited, that place (the source) can be sued. Attorneys refer to people who have bed bugs as "victims", and off we go. So, if you choose to do bed bug management for this company or for private clients, you accept liability. This can be minimized somewhat by preparing the customer ahead of time to know what to expect, to be given the options for control, and to ensure they do their part in this extensive process. And, of course, you reduce the problems if you have the experience and know-how to eliminate the bed bugs right down to the very last egg and nymph. 

A few thoughts on what you wrote. First, laundering is not necessarily mandatory as long as everything that can go through a hot dryer cycle is put through that heat chamber for 30 minutes or more. If things need laundering first then all the better, but a dryer may be sufficient. Keep in mind the use of Nuvan ProStrips (vapona) for fumigating all electronic equipment and other items that cannot be laundered or dealt with in any other way. Placing these items in a thick, sealed plastic bag for 2 weeks (1 week if the temperature can be elevated) will kill any bugs or eggs hidden inside them. Keep in mind that around 70% of the bugs will hide close to their food, meaning on or very near to the mattress. So, inspect carefully all holes and crevices in all furniture, behind curtains, under lamps, behind items on the walls, behind floor molding and edges of carpets, etc., because 30% of the bugs will be hiding and depositing eggs in those places. 

Be aware of the growing arsenal of really good bed bug monitors, such as the new Verifi from FMC, which incorporates multiple attractants and seems to really draw the bugs to it. There are so many new products for these pests that you now have more to offer the customer. On PestWeb you can download forms and fact sheets that you could use to help with your inspection as well as a prep sheet for the customer. Be aware that if one unit of an apartment has the bugs you really need to inspect all surrounding (up, down, and to the sides) units, because the bugs do travel easily. 

Mr. Pest Control

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Please note, Mr. Pest Control is answering questions supplied by PMP customers across North America. His answers are generated from industry and manufacturer-provided information. The answer may not be specific to the laws and regulations for your State, Province, Territory or Country. In addition, products mentioned may not be registered and or available in all areas. Always check with your local Univar office for specific information to your area. Always read and follow label directions.