Over the last several decades there has been a troubling resurgence in bed bug infestations throughout the country and around the world. Pests that were once close to extinction are now one of the most common call-outs for exterminators and pest control experts throughout the United States.
We tend to think of bed bugs as household pests. By and large that’s an accurate assessment. These troublesome beasties depend on human blood to survive. It’s only natural that they’d want to stay as close to their prey as possible. But bed bugs aren’t necessarily particular about where they live. They’ll infest any place that offers regular access to their human prey. If they can’t get to you at home they’ll happily find you at work.
Yep, workplace bed bug infestations are more common than you might think. Businesses across the country are finding themselves playing host to growing bed bug colonies. What’s more, those blood-sucking bugs are biting employees and customers and using the opportunity to spread their infestations even further into local communities.
The Problem with Bed Bugs and Businesses
The problem with bed bugs in the workplace is twofold. First, having bed bugs in such close proximity to staff and customers raises the risk of attacks. This is particularly true in offices where employees or guests might be sitting for long periods at desks or in waiting areas. This provides ample opportunities for any active bed bugs to strike and bite an unsuspecting worker or customer.
Second, bed bugs are extremely adept at hiding. They can secrete themselves into all areas of a building including stock rooms and showrooms. Once there they can easily find their way into packing crates and displays of merchandise. When a customer makes a purchase they might find they’re bringing home more than just a new chest of drawers or pair of slacks – they may well be bringing home some unwanted guests as well. Hardly a week goes by without a news item addressing just this scenario. So having bed bugs in your business is bad for you, your employees, and your customers.
How do Workplace Bed Bug Infestations Happen?
Bed bugs are well-known hitchhikers. They simply attach themselves to someone’s clothing or bags and ride along with them until finding a suitable place to set up camp. This is one of the prime movers of household infestations, and the same pattern holds true for businesses.
Employees or customers may inadvertently pick up a stray bed bug or in a hotel, theater, or on public transportation. They then carry those bed bugs along with them wherever they go. The pests essentially have their choice of destination and can hop off wherever they please. Sometimes, the bed bugs choose to set up shop in offices and retail spaces. They can then hide out in couches and in chairs or in carpets and cupboards. Once hidden they will begin to feed and breed, increasing their numbers until you have a full scale bed bug infestation on your hands.
Tips for Preventing Bed Bugs in the Workplace
Finding bed bugs in your workplace is becoming increasingly common. This is especially true in larger urban areas of the country. But there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of an infestation. Here are a few simple tips on how to avoid bed bugs in your workplace:
Avoid Used Furnishings – Every business owner looks for ways to save money, and buying second-hand furniture or hardware can be an attractive proposition. However, used desks and chairs can present a bed bug hazard. The same can be said for buying second-hand electronics. If these items are infested with bed bugs you can quickly find yourself with a large, and potentially costly, headache on your hands.
Perform Regular Inspections – Vigilance is the watchword when it comes to beating back a bed bug infestation. Regular thorough inspections of all areas of the workplace are an important part of preventing an infestation. Inspect all upholstered furniture, in around all desk and shelving units, and along baseboards. You should also check electrical outlets and electronic items (including computers, telephones, clocks, etc). Retailers should give special attention to stock rooms and back stocked merchandise.
Declutter – Cluttered areas provide ample hiding places for bed bugs. Clear out any cluttered areas in the workplace and keep break rooms and stock rooms clean.
Regular Cleaning – Regularly vacuum and clean all areas of the business. If possible it may be beneficial to hire a professional cleaning service to ensure that all areas of the property are kept clean.
Professional Inspections – Schedule regular inspections from a professional bed bug inspection and removal service. They can help spot any early signs of infestation and take the necessary steps to prevent a full scale invasion.
Employee Meetings – Schedule an employee meeting and lay out the business’ bed bug policies so that everyone in the company is on board. Teach employees how to recognize the signs of a bed bug infestation so they can spot trouble before it gets out of hand. Develop and implement comprehensive policies for staff to report bed bug sightings in the workplace or in their own homes.
Dealing with a Workplace Infestation
As bed bug populations continue to rise across the country the threat of infestations in the workplace becomes a common problem facing business owners and their employees. If you or one of your staff members sees early signs of bed bug activity it is important to contact a professional pest removal service as soon as possible. The quicker you take action the sooner you can nip any problems in the proverbial bud. It is vital that you act quickly to protect your business, your employees, and your clients from the ravages of a bed bug infestation.