Wide range of topics at NPTA Open Day and AGM

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A decent turnout of National Pest Technicians Association members heard speakers on a range of topics at an Open Day held on 5 June at the NPTA’s new offices in Eastwood, near Nottingham. This was followed by the formal Annual General Meeting (AGM).

It is almost 12 months since NPTA moved into its new premises in Eastwood so, combining the AGM with an Open House for members to view the new set up, seemed like an excellent idea.

The new premises are centrally placed and easy to find, a short hop off the M1 at junction 26 for Nottingham north. As well as providing plenty of office and storage space there is a good sized, light and airy meeting come training/seminar room upstairs, which is where the Open Day presentations were held.

The plan was to run the day in two sessions with the afternoon repeat designed to encourage members to stay on for the AGM. However, what is it that they say about best laid plans? In the event it was the morning session which proved most popular, attracting a decent crowd with just a select few attending in the afternoon. This did, however, allow for a more informal and relaxed series of presentations.

First up was Sabra Fearon from Killgerm whose presentation looked at the basics of good marketing and how it can help business development. The emphasis was on building a consistent and valued brand for the business through well liveried vans, a good website, the use of social media and local adverts and, of course, by having smart presentable staff. There were plenty of tips on how to develop a marketing plan and execute it.


Open day speakers
Open day speakers. From top down: Iain Turner,
Helen Ainsworth, 
Brady Hudson and Sabra Fearon

If Sabra’s presentation was about some of the more glamorous aspects of the pest control business, NPTA chairman, Iain Turner, brought everyone back down to earth with his session on risk assessments, COSHH assessments and method statements. He pointed out that this type of paperwork often comes up as being one of the top problems for PCOs. But whichever way you look at it, in the 21st century, you must have your paperwork in order.

Iain pointed out that it is not necessary to go to extraordinary lengths as a good risk assessment only needs to cover what is reasonably practicable. All that is required is to identify the key hazards and assess the likelihood of each of them causing harm. Then you can look at what can be done to remove or mitigate those risks. Iain had some useful examples of COSHH and Risk Assessments that delegates were able to take away with them.

The third presentation from Brady Hudson of Bell Laboratories gave an insight into the way non-toxic baits can be employed to help pest controllers’ work out where rodents are getting into buildings and how they are moving through them. She outlined two interesting case studies where Bell Detex had been used to shed light on difficult rodent infestations and allow them to be resolved fully, rather than simply controlled for short periods.

Finally Helen Ainsworth from Barrettine talked about lone working. She outlined the legal framework that places duties on employers to ensure their employees are safe and on employees to make sure they are safe at work. She also highlighted some of the difficulties than can be encountered and how the use of technology such as the Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s Live Life Safe App can help. Even simpler is just having a routine where, for example, at a set time, each day, all your workers phone into the office or even just phone each other. She also touched on the need for first aid kits and the nowledge of how to use them.

Time for the AGM 

Following the Open Day presentations was the formal AGM. This was for the year ended 31 March 2012 so it was rather like being in a time warp.

From the chair, Iain Turner welcomed members and pointed out that one of the key achievements that year had been to finally find suitable new premises for the Association. He said that the benefits of the decision to purchase new offices, taking advantage of a healthy cash balance and a stagnant market in office buildings, was clear for all to see and that it would help to secure the Association’s long-term future.

Ian was also pleased to report a continued growth in member numbers and stood at 883 at the end of that financial year.


NPTA AGM Left to right: NPTA chairman Iain Turner, chief executive John Davison and director Adam Hawley

Chief executive, John Davison, pointed out that there were now 44 fully accredited members; up from 39 and that this steady increase was continuing.

Following the retirement of Margaret Colleyshaw, who had worked on a part time contract. it was decided to appoint a second full time member of staff with Donna Alvey joining office manager, Julie Gillies, to provide administrative support.

Iain also highlighted the work on behalf of members that goes on, often behind the scenes, to help steer the authorities in the appropriate direction.

The AGM formally received the final National Rodent Survey Report on 2010/11 which was published in April 2012. The NPTA rodent survey was first introduced 12 years ago and, as John Davison commented, it has been a very successful exercise for the Association over that time. However, with so many changes in local authorities, and many now feeling disinclined to participate in what has always been a voluntary survey, it was felt that the results would no longer be representative so the time had come to stop the survey.

In the open discussion which followed a number of topics were aired including, the plans being developed for additional training courses, the challenges and opportunities that will come out of the CEN project, the benefits of a searchable members database (currently being developed) on the NPTA website, the future ofToday’s Technician and the importance of continuing to raise professional standards.

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