As an introduction to the PestCert accreditation program for Australia's pest management industry, we hope the following will give you a little background information.
Most towns throughout Australia have access to a local pest manager and as such the pest management industry makes an important contribution to Australia's life style - via health, social and business impacts. Accurate industry statistics are difficult to obtain. However it is estimated that the industry has a retail value in excess of $500m. Of this some $260m is thought to be associated with termite management. The industry employs around 4,500 individuals who are licensed by the various State Authorities and who are directly involved in the application of products for pest management purposes. In addition it is estimated that there are some 800 support staff within the industry. There are about 2,500 pest management business entities, of which about 40% are small (one or two person) family business units.
It is believed that 15 to 20% of Australian homes are treated annually for general pests such as cockroaches, spiders etc, and around 20% of all buildings are treated for termite infestations at some stage through their life. Based on figures from building inspections, the Archicentre (architectural advisory service) has estimated that 130,000 termite infested buildings are treated each year at an average treatment cost of $1,500 per building. Additonal to this is the average house repair cost from termite damage of $4,500. By calculation this puts the annual cost of treatment for termite damage to the Australian community at $780m.
The incidence of termite damage in buildings has increased since the withdrawl from the market of the organochlorine products. The organochlorines were very tolerant to poor application techniques. The replacement products, without the same degree of persistence and different chemical characteristics, require greater accuracy, attention to detail application to a higher standard by the pest manager.
The pest management industry is represented by its own industry association, the Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association (AEPMA). This association has been in operation since 1988 and is established as a public company limited by guarantee. The association operates from Sydney. Members are bound by a Code of Ethics, and professional indemnity and public liability insurances are a condition of membership. AEPMA is managed by an elected National Board which is made up of State delegates and an associate member (supplier). State Councils and sub branches operate at State and regional levels.
Licensing of pest managers
The licensing of pest management technicians is managed by each of the States / Territorities of Australia. Unfortunately the Government Department that administers the licensing system differs between each State/ Territory. In 1999 a National Standard for licensing Pest Management Technicians was established. The objective of this standard was to achieve a nationally uniform, competency based licensing system for the issuing of licenses. However this standard has not been enacted uniformly across Australia.
The granting of licence renewals has been largely automatic in a number of States with the result that demonstration of competency has not been a prerequisite (so called grandfather clause).
Licensing is mostly controlled by health or similar type departments in the various States. These departments are concerned mainly with issues on health and occupational safety and not on issues relating to consumer affairs. This results in the regulatory authority for the industry not being able or willing to take action unless it is related to health or safety.
Accreditation as a way forward
There are some issues within the pest management industry that the introduction of an accreditation program seeks to address.
The pest management industry needs to become more professional. A combination of accreditation and co-regulation with Government is seen as the best way of achieving this through raising standards consistently across Australia.