Pest control operators – best practice, Australian Standards and the law
Pest control operators (PCOs) are licensed and regulated by the department under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and the Public Health and wellbeing Regulations 2019. In addition, pesticide storage, use and transport is regulated under other Victorian legislation relating to hazardous substances, dangerous goods and agricultural and veterinary chemicals.
See ‘Pest control legislation and licensing’ for more information.
The Guidelines for pest control operators in Victoria were developed by the department to help PCOs comply with pest control legislation.
PCOs should always strive for best practice in their business operations and seek to minimise the risk to their own health, public health and the environment when using pesticides as part of that business.
The Australian Standard AS 2507-1998 The storage and handling of agricultural and veterinary chemicals provides requirements and recommendations for the storage and handling of agricultural and veterinary chemicals including pesticides.
The information on this page combines legislative requirements with best practice Australian Standards recommendations to give tailored guidance to PCOs about pesticide use, transport and storage.
Remember, when using pesticides, always:
Read the label
Heed the label
Abide by the label
Pest control vehicles
Vehicles used for the purpose of a pest control business including the storage, transport and preparation of pesticides should meet the following requirements:
- The vehicle should be labelled with the pest control business name and either the old department business A-number or pest control licence L-number in lettering at least 75 mm high.
- The driver’s cabin should be separate from the chemicals and equipment. No chemicals or chemically contaminated equipment or materials should be stored or transported in the driver’s cabin.
- The chemical storage area should have appropriate ventilation.
- A fire extinguisher (dry powder or CO2 type) is kept in the vehicle in an easily accessible location. The fire extinguisher should be well maintained in accordance with Australian Standard 1851 - Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment.
- Emergency telephone numbers should be clearly displayed by securing to the dashboard or windscreen. The department has developed an emergency contacts sticker, which you can obtain by calling 1300 767 469.
- A manifest (list) of all chemicals carried on the vehicle should be kept in an easily accessible location, such as at the start of a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) folder.
- The entire vehicle should be clean and free from pesticide residue.
Pesticide storage area
Whether you store your chemicals on your vehicle or in a storeroom at your business premises, there are a number of requirements you need to comply with:
- The storage area must be in a suitable location – in particular, away from potential hazards.
- The chemical store must be secure and remain locked when not in use. Where possible, public access should be minimised. For vehicles, this means locking the back of the van when unattended, or keeping chemicals in a lockable container.
- The chemical store should be fire resistant, ventilated and well lit.
- A fire extinguisher (dry powder or CO2 type) is kept in the vehicle in an easily accessible location. The fire extinguisher should be well maintained in accordance with Australian Standard 1851 – Routine service of fire protection systems and equipment.
- The shelving and floor of the chemical store should be impervious – that is, unable to absorb spills.
- A suitable spill kit must be accessibly located in your chemical store or in your vehicle for emergency use. Spill kits should be well stocked and PCOs should be familiar with their contents and use.
- The chemical store should be clean, free from hazards and have incompatible chemicals separated.
- SDSs for all chemicals stored should be kept in an easily accessible location for use in case of an emergency.
- The chemical storage area should be identified with appropriate signage. Warning placards should also be carried on your vehicle for use on job sites. Circumstances that may require this type of signage include indicating the presence of an obstacle, such as a hose over a path, or the use of pesticides in an area.
Schedule 7 poison storage
Schedule 7 poisons include pesticides such as arsenic trioxide, methyl bromide and phosphine.
Special conditions are placed upon Schedule 7 storage areas, and need to meet additional requirements:
- They must be stored separate to other chemicals in a securely locked container.
- Schedule 7 poisons must be clearly labelled with warnings and the name of the poison.
A permit for the possession and use of arsenic and cyanide is required in addition to any other licence or permit. For an application for an industrial permit, contact the department’s Medicines and Poisons Regulation Unit.
Pesticide application equipment
Follow this advice to ensure your application equipment is safe to use:
- All equipment used for the application of pesticides should be clean and free from pesticide residue.
- Equipment should be well maintained and free from damage or leaks. It is recommended that you check your equipment regularly and replace items subject to wear and tear (such as hoses) at least every 12 months.
- Application equipment should be secured to the vehicle and not free to move around the load area during transport or use.
- Where used, machinery drive shafts and belts should be fitted with a guard.
- All pesticide tanks should be labelled properly for contents. This includes contaminated article containers and clean water containers.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
When working with pesticides, PCOs should always read the pesticide label and follow the directions. This includes following any safety directions and wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). This is particularly important for PCOs, because they work with chemicals every day and are at greater risk of exposure.
The following PPE and other safety items should be available when chemicals are being handled:
- Long-sleeve overalls. After use, these should be removed and transported in your contaminated articles container. They should be washed separately before being used again.
- Washable hat.
- Eye and face protection.
- Impervious boots and gloves. Leather boots must be treated regularly with a waterproofing agent, to ensure they remain impervious.
- Respirator with suitable spare cartridges. The respirator must be of an appropriate type, be well maintained and properly stored. Spare cartridges must be within the manufacturer’s expiration date.
- A spare change of clothing should be kept for emergency purposes, along with a sturdy, sealable, appropriately labelled container to store contaminated items.
- Soap, towel and at least 10 litres of clean water. These should be stored away from any chemicals.
- First aid kit, stocked according to WorkSafe Code of Practice - (No. 18) First Aid in the workplace.