Office safety Workplace exposure

Keep your workplace pest- and pesticide-free

Photo: OJO_Images/iStockphoto

A spider shimmies down a thread of web directly in front of your face. A cockroach scuttles across your keyboard. A mouse darts underneath the office refrigerator. Sound familiar? If so, then your workplace may have a pest problem.

Other pests to watch for include fruit flies, gnats, beetles, moths and ants. These creatures make their way into the workplace in search of food, water and shelter, but you can help keep them from getting indoors.

The California Department of Public Health recommends that you:

  • Keep food in sealed containers, and clean dirty dishes at the end of each workday.
  • Ensure trash cans have plastic liners, and empty them every night.
  • Refrain from leaving fruit on your desk overnight. Instead, place it in the refrigerator or bring it home.
  • Keep the workplace as clutter-free as possible. Store items in cabinets, racks or bins.
  • Be careful not to overwater plants, which can lead to gnat infestations.

If you notice pests at work, inform your supervisor or the building’s management team. However, CDPH cautions against bringing in your own pesticides, stating that “even botanical pesticide sprays can cause coughing or eye irritation, and cause or trigger asthma.”


Employers should tell their workers exactly which chemicals and pesticides are used and have Safety Data Sheets available for them, CDPH notes. In addition, workers should be advised to remove personal items and food from their desks or work areas before any pesticides or chemicals are used.

As an alternative to pesticide use, CDPH recommends exploring integrated pest management programs, which focus on preventing pest problems by eliminating the food, water and shelter these creatures need to survive. For more information on integrated pest management, visit

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)