Are You Serious? The Top 4 Reasons PCOs Don't Wear Safety Gear
June 10, 2015
Pest control techs are notorious for not using personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, hardhats, safety glasses, bunnysuits, or respirators.
If you’re guilty of walking into “the line of fire” unprotected, you can come clean … many pest control professionals have done the same. But whether you're a technician, a supervisor, or the boss, there's no excuse for not using PPE when you face real hazards at work. PPE protects you from numerous dangers that you could face throughout a normal day of work.
Still, there are lots of bad reasons for not wearing PPE. Here are some of our favorites:
"A respirator? Give me a break. I've been doing this work for years and I haven't gotten sick yet. It's just bureaucrats and lawyers exaggerating the risk. "
Well... no. There's no exaggeration. The requirement to wear a respirator is based on hard science: toxicology, chemistry, and medicine. If safety rules or a pesticide label mandate a respirator, not wearing one could damage your health and you wouldn’t even recognize it until it's too late.
"I didn't know I needed gloves (or safety glasses, or a respirator) for that."
It's part of a tech's job to recognize potential hazards and to stay protected from them, including wearing PPE. Read those precautionary statements on the label – you might be surprised at what you find there. For example, did you know that rodenticide labels often require that you wear long-sleeve shirts, socks, long pants, and waterproof gloves, and that you wash the gloves before taking them off?
"It's really uncomfortable doing pest control work wearing this gear."
You hear this excuse the most when working in hot, confined, or dusty worksites such as attics and crawlspaces. But uncomfortable sites are typically the ones where you most need PPE. Attics and crawlspaces can have protruding nails, irritating insulation fibers, airborne insecticide dust, allergens, pathogens, and spores from bat, bird, or other animal droppings. And pesticides in hot sites are more likely to evaporate and become airborne, increasing your risk of inhalation. You might need the whole package—gloves, respirator, eye protection, hardhat, and a bunnysuit—for these worksites.
"Come on, this stuff looks stupid. And it scares the hell out of my customers."
Wearing PPE makes you look more professional, not stupid. Customers like seeing that you’re taking safety precautions, because it means you know how to keep them safe.
Here’s what customers need to know. The real risk of exposure to pesticides occurs during the application. There is actually very little risk afterwards. All pesticides on the market have passed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determination that they can be applied in homes or other sites without posing harm to the people and pets who reside there.
While these are all creative (and common) excuses, at the end of the day, none of them are worth risking your health. So be smart, and commit to a culture of safety—one that is practiced every day.