Two pest control companies this week became the first in the UK to be accredited against a benchmark of quality recognised throughout Europe.
Both are allied to the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) and the leading trade body is now challenging its 450-plus servicing members follow their example.
Simon Forrester, chief executive of the BPCA, is confident the plan will deliver significant benefits to farmers and farm managers in the South East.
He said: “The European Standard for Pest Management Services EN16636 was developed by the pest control industry to act as a demonstration of professional credentials.
“We know of many pest controllers who are untrained and do not stay up-to-date with the latest products, techniques and legislation – and that’s something which can create big problems.
“But this will demonstrate our members are on a level playing field with the best pest management companies in the world and will mean that, by employing members of the BPCA, farmers and farm managers can be totally confident of a professional service.”
Premier Pest Control, based in West Yorkshire, was this week named as the first company in the UK to be measured against the Standard, while Ecolab Pest Elimination was awarded certificate number one.
The initiative was launched earlier this year by the Confederation of European Pest Management Associations (CEPA).
It defines quality and best practice and acts as an assurance that member companies are fully qualified to deal with all pest species and are experts on integrated pest management, the use of chemicals and health and safety issues.
It’s the cornerstone of a strategy to portray a positive image of the pest management industry in terms of public health, food safety, environmental sustainability and economic significance.
All BPCA member companies will be at least working towards the standard from January and Mr Forrester is aiming to help everyone pass the audit by the deadline of June 2017.
He added: “It’s important to recognise that this is not just a box-ticking exercise.
“Our members will each be independently assessed by Bureau Veritas, a global certification body – we are the only UK organisation that does this.
“The danger is that internal audits by trade bodies are potentially weakened by pressure to allow companies to pass, which we know happens in other associations.
“By using third party verification, clients can be sure our audits are legitimate and every BPCA member company is held to the same high standard.”
That audit will involve the entire structure of the company to make sure everything from its working practices and training to its ethos and values is correctly aligned.
Mr Forrester said: “Those who don’t meet the criteria at the moment will be offered all the help and support they need to get there.
“This is a move which sends out a strong message that when people use BPCA members, they can have peace of mind that the job will be done properly.
“We want the BPCA to remain the mark of professionalism in UK pest management, and for clients to know to look for our logo every time they select a pest management company.”