It is important to hire a professional pest control operator if you have pest problems that are too difficult to manage yourself. Look for a pest control operator who holds a Pest Control Licence.
Due to the potential risks involved in handling pesticides, anyone who uses pesticides as part of a pest control business in Victoria must have a pest control operator licence.
The Department of Health Victoria issues this licence.
Although pesticides are toxic and there are risks associated with pesticide use, licensed pest control operators are trained to handle, store and apply these substances safely. If the appropriate precautions are taken to minimise exposure to pesticides, the risk to health is greatly reduced.
Finding a licensed pest control operator
Look for a pest control operator who holds a Pest Control Licence (a photo ID licence like the one pictured below). This is issued by the Department of Health under the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 to people who have an appropriate qualification. The qualification includes training in the safe handling, storage and application of pesticides, and the identification and management of pests.
The licence authorises the operator to use certain types of pesticides. This authorisation can be found on the back of the card, which should look similar to the sample below.
A person who holds a Pest Control Licence can have up to three different authorisations listed on their licence. You should check the licence to see if they have the appropriate authorisation for your job.
The three authorisations are:
- pesticides (excluding fumigants) formulated for the control of arthropods, rodents, birds and fungi – for pests such as spiders, cockroaches, termites, ants, house mice, roof or black rats, common or Norway rats, fleas, mites, bed bugs, silverfish, flies, wasps, mosquitoes, beetles, bees and introduced birds
- pesticides formulated for the control of pest animals – for pests such as rabbits and foxes in and around domestic and commercial buildings in urban areas
- pesticides in the form of fumigants – primarily for specialised pest control, such as fumigation of furniture, machinery and clothing for quarantine purposes.
If your pest problem is not covered by the authorisations above, contact the Department of Health for advice.
Reasons to hire a person who holds a Pest Control Licence
It is illegal for a person in a pest control business to apply pesticides without a licence. A person with a Pest Control Licence should:
- identify the pest and its habitat
- determine an appropriate pest management plan
- apply, handle and store pesticides safely
- provide information and advice about the pesticides they use
- answer your questions.
Checklist for selecting a pest control operator
When choosing a pest control operator, make sure you:
- Get several quotes for the job.
- Talk to neighbours or friends who might be able to recommend services.
- Check that the person who will be applying the pesticides holds a valid Victorian Pest Control Licence.
- Check the authorisation on their licence.
- Verify their details with the Department of Health if you are unsure.
- Check they have enough insurance.
- Ask any other questions you may have.
Safety precautions when using the services of a pest control operator
If you use a commercial pest control operator you should:
- Ask the pest control operator for the full chemical name of the pesticide they will be using. In case of an emergency, this will help with first aid.
- Make sure food, clothes, toys, toothbrushes, bedding, towels, vegetable gardens, barbeques, pet bowls, fish ponds, clotheslines and cooking utensils are covered or removed from the area to be treated.
- Relocate pets during treatment and until the pesticide is dry.
- If the pesticide is to be applied outdoors, make sure that all doors and windows are closed.
- Vacate the premises while the pesticide is mixed and applied, and until the pesticide is dry. Four to six hours is generally recommended, but your pest control operator will recommend the appropriate time based on the specific treatment option used.
- If the pesticide has been applied indoors, make sure that benchtops and kitchen utensils are thoroughly cleaned prior to food preparation, and ventilate the house, by opening all doors and windows, for a few hours on your return.
- It is recommended that you advise your neighbours in advance of any external pesticide treatments.
- Raise any concerns, such as how the pesticide could affect pregnancy, young children or allergies, with your pest control operator before they start work. This will give them a chance to discuss pest treatment options with you. A good pest control operator will listen to your concerns and address them by using the most appropriate pest control method.
Finding further information about pesticides
You can get further information about pesticides from:
- your pest control operator
- the pesticide manufacturer.
The Victorian Department of Health and pesticides
The Department of Health Pest Control Program (Tel. 1300 887 090, Mon to Fri, 9am – 12pm) can help you with:
- questions about the health effects of pesticides
- concerns about licence details or people using pesticides without a licence.
The Department of Health does not give recommendations for particular companies or operators.
Where to get help
- Your doctor – if you think you might be suffering from side effects of pesticide exposure
- Poisons Information Centre Tel. 131 126, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- In an emergency, always call triple zero (000)
- Department of Health Pest Control Program Tel. 1300 887 090
- Victorian WorkCover Authority Tel.1800 13 60 89 – if you think a pest control job was not performed safely
- Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association (AEPMA) Tel. 1300 307 114
- Consumer Affairs Victoria Tel. 1300 558 181 – if the service provided by the pest control operator is different from that which they indicated they would provide
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Department of Health and Human Services - RHP&R - Health Protection - Environmental Health Unit
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.