Demonstrating professionalism across Europe

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Are you a pest professional? Can you prove it? A new way to demonstrate true professionalism was launched in Brussels on Tuesday 17 March. It’s called CEPA Certified and has been hailed as a positive step for the pest control industry by trade associations, pest control servicing companies, their suppliers, CEN (the European standards setting organisation) itself and, importantly, policy-makers at the European Commission.
As many readers will know CEPA, the Confederation of European Pest Management Associations, is the umbrella trade body for urban pest control in Europe.

Five years ago the European industry, with strong support in particular from the Italian Association ANID (read more here,) but also from other key associations and leaders in the sector, set about creating an official European Standard for pest management services. A workgroup was set-up to develop the standard led by international pest management consultant, the UK’s Rob Fryatt. Dr Chris Suter, then with the RSPH and Dr Peter Whittall, then chief scientific officer for Rentokil, were also very involved in the initiative. But it was a truly Europe-wide effort with more than 200 individuals from 18 countries contributing their skills.

Bringing all this expertise together to specify the skills and competences that must be met by professional providers of pest management services has resulted in the publishing, on 4 March 2015, of the official European Standard EN16636.

This new standard is available for anyone to purchase and use but what will really turn it into something of true value is the establishment of a system that ensures those who claim to be following the standard actually are following it – in other words a proper auditing system to guarantee the quality of work and keep the cowboys out. This is where CEPA Certified comes in.

CEPA Certified logo

Influential panel
The launch event attracted an audience of some 80 pest management leaders and stakeholders from across Europe. It took the form of a number of short presentations followed by a panel debate led by broadcaster and editor, Jacki Davis. On the panel were Elena Santiago Cid secretary general of the European standards association CEN-CENELEC, Pierre Choraine director of the biocides management group for the European Commission DG Sante, Dr Chris Suter chair of the CEPA validation working group, Dr Peter Whittall formerly chief scientific officer of Rentokill-Initial and currently executive director of Tripod Consulting, Rune Bratland from the Norwegian trade association and managing director of a pest control servicing company in Norway, Martin Harvey president of BPCA and managing director of Harvey Environmental Services and Betrand Montmoreau, chair of CEPA.

Opening proceedings, Bertrand Montmoreau said that he believed the launch of CEN standard EN16636 and CEPA Certified will help raise the bar for both pest control companies and their customers. “This is a positive step that can only be good news for everyone involved. It will ensure pest controllers can benchmark themselves against the best in Europe, and will have strong benefits for customers too. We know that in many European markets, there are some pest controllers who are untrained and do not stay up-to-date with the latest products, pests and legislation, and that can create big problems for us all. But with the winning combination of the new Standard and the CEPA certification scheme, clients can be totally confident that they are getting a professional service.”

Also speaking at the launch, Dr Chris Suter, now an independent consultant, explained the reasoning behind CEPA Certified very succinctly: “We can’t stop other organisations from using the Standard but we can provide a way for people to recognise when the Standard is being used properly. The integrity and reputation of the Standard is critical. CEPA Certified allows users of pest management services to identify those providers that offer an effective, safe and legal service.”

How will it work?
First of all it is important to note that CEPA certification will be awarded on a country by country basis so if you work in more than one country you will need certificates from them all. It applies to organisations and not to individuals. It can be awarded to single site and multi-site operations. The period of validity of the certificate is three years from the date of the first audit. An audit will take around a day to complete and will include observation of practical pest management operations – it will not just be a paper chase! There will also be an interim audit at around the 18 month mark. Auditors will have to meet strict criteria defined by CEPA and will have to show that they have an understanding of pest management. Trade Associations in the individual European countries are being asked to ensure suitable training is available for these auditors. All associations have been furnished with a toolkit to help them do this.

Dr Chris Suter also summed-up the current situation very well by quoting none other than Sir Winston Churchill: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

In other words the European pest management industry now has a standard and through CEPA a template that can be adopted in every European country to ensure the standard really means something. It is now up to all of us in the industry to get involved. Keep an eye on future issue of Pest magazine when we will provide more information on how your company can become CEPA Certified.

A prize to aim for
And finally, in the panel discussion at the launch, the European Commission’s representative, Pierre Choraine, alluded to the ultimate prize for the professional pest management industry. He said, on more than one occasion, that if CEPA Certified can achieve a critical mass whereby the Commission can be sure that there are sufficient numbers of pest professional across Europe to ensure the ongoing protection of public health and assets from pests, they would be minded to add wording to active substance authorisations along the lines of ‘to be used only by CEPA certified professionals.’ Now that’s a goal worth aiming for.

Speakers at CEPA Certified launch
The panel at the launch of CEPA Certified in Brussels. From left: Pierre Choraine, Rune Bratland,
Elena Santiago Cid, Martin Harvey, Dr Peter Whittall, Betrand Montmoreau and Dr Chris Suter

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