dos & don’ts: bed bug sops


December 5, 2013

Dr. Stuart Mitchell – Technical Editor

Incompetence is lacking the necessary skill set to carry out a task. With an increasing potential liability of bed bugs and a public health significance, it’s mandatory pest management professionals (PMPs) have detailed, written, effective and legally sound standard operating procedures (SOPs), which must be consistent with pest management industry standards.
SOPs provide employees with an essential reference to common business practices, activities or tasks. SOPs are required to train new employees consistently. International Quality Standard (ISO 9001) requires the determination of any manufacturing process that could affect product or service quality.

■ Do write the specific goal to be accomplished using an SOP.
■ Don’t forget to write a draft of clear and concise steps. Include precise details to ensure consistent task performance.
■ Do review the steps physically, as if completing the SOP (to ensure complete procedures).
■ Don’t forget to adjust or revise any steps.
■ Do test it with an employee to verify it’s complete and directional.
■ Don’t forget to obtain feedback from the employee pursuant to any steps or instructions.
■ Do produce a final draft with amendments and adjustments.
■ Don’t forget to maintain a hard-copy binder, distribute the SOP to employees, post it on the company bulletin board and distribute it via email.
■ Do train employees. Hold a meeting or training session to update employees about the SOP.
■ Don’t forget to review each step with employees and answer any questions about the
new SOP.

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) lurk within vulnerable areas adjacent to where people sleep. Bed bugs invade hotels, shelters and apartment complexes, as well as luggage, boxes and pets.

Bed bug liability is becoming more prevalent within the pest management industry. But with increased liability comes increased potential loss. Assurance by insurance is required. A general liability policy (GLP) generally doesn’t cover contract actions (a rider is required) and won’t cover errors and omissions (a professional liability policy is required).

If a client holds a pest management professional (PMP) responsible for a service provided, or the pest management company fails to provide expected or promised results, errors and omissions (E&O) insurance covers individuals and/or the company. E&O can be termed professional liability and covers errors or omissions perceived or made. E&O coverage, which provides protection if an error or omission caused financial loss for a client, generally covers defense costs, judgments and settlements. If allegations are found baseless, thousands of dollars might be required to defend the lawsuit, which can bankrupt an individual or smaller company, as well as effect the bottom line of a larger company.

The relatively new employment practices liability (EPL) insurance provides protection for an employer against claims made by employees and former or potential employees. EPL covers discrimination (age, sex, race, disability), wrongful termination and sexual harassment, as well as the company (including directors and officers). An insurance agent must be informed in writing of specific needs and possible exposure.

Dr. Mitchell, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., B.C.E., a board-certified physician and entomologist, is principal technical specialist for PestWest Environmental, as well as PMP’s Technical Editor. He can be reached at or 515-333-8923.


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