Well over 150 Italian pest professionals squeezed into the seminar hall for the first and, for many, the most important, session at Disinfestando 2015, held in Rimini on 11 and 12 March.
The session they all wanted to hear was ‘La pubblicazione dello Standard prEN 16636 e la certificazione della Impresse di Pest Control: opinioni,chiarimenti e opportunitá ‘, to you and me that’s roughly, ‘the publication of the European CEN Standard for pest control servicing: opinions, character and opportunities’.
It was fitting that the Italian event should be the first to be held after the publication on 4 March of this important document and no surprise that it was first-up on the agenda. The Italian association, ANID, and, in particular, its director Dr Sergio Urizio, have been instrumental in delivering the standard. ANID provided much of the funding alongside the European confederation of pest management associations, CEPA. In addition, the Italian standard body, UNI (the equivalent of our British Standard Institute (BSI), provided much needed advice and guidance and secretariat services.
|A key date – 4 March 2015
The Work Group that drew together the standard was drawn from within the industry and chaired by the UK’s Rob Fryatt of Xenex Associates and a past director general of CEPA. Rob was unable to attend Disinfestando this year but he sent a statement which was read out to the audience by Roberto Ravaglia from UNI.
In it Rob thanked the Italian industry for its strong support of the initiative and explained: “March 4 was an important day for our great industry. It marked the publication of CEN standard EN 16636 which we will all come to know as our industry’s first independent and professional quality standard and, not just a first for Europe but the first in the global industry.”
Rob concluded with a call for the good work to continue saying: “But, today is just the next day towards the future. Use the standard well to promote professionalism to your clients, be positive about our great European industry and support CEPA in establishing a strong and respected auditing system. Don’t stop here! Make today the start of a global campaign to bring our industry its own ISO Standard… Italy, please continue to lead.”
One of the speakers was Paulo Guerra from the Italian distributors OSD HPC. Paulo has been a member of the Italian mirror group – the name given to the national groups working on the detail of the standard. Speaking with him after the session he explained how the Standard is voluntary but that in his view over time it is likely to become the norm for servicing companies of all sizes working in the international food industry, the hospitality sector and for those contracted by government at national, regional or local level.
Paulo said that he hoped that Italian pest controllers would take away two key messages from the session. Firstly that this Standard will be helpful to raise customer awareness of the level of professionalism within the pest control servicing sector.
Secondly that the Standard is a way of working that can be followed by any company no matter how small. He explained that in Italy, around 75% of servicing companies employ five technicians or fewer and that often these small businesses find it difficult to compete with the bigger companies, not because they are unable to do the work but because they do not have the systems in place, or the ability to organise the paperwork.
“Small pest control servicing businesses will find the Standard useful in formalising a lot of what they already do thereby also helping them improve their efficiency,” he said.
Italian market challenges
Specifically, in Italy governments tend to change every couple of years, worse within government there is no department which has specific responsibility for pest control and public health. The Department of Health sees it as an environmental issue whilst the Department for the Environment views it as a health matter.
On top of this there are 21 regional governments each with their own laws about pest control. For this reason pest control companies tend to specialise in just one region where they understand what they can and can’t do. And we thought having devolved powers for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland made life complicated!