There is a significant skill and competence gap in some EU countries concerning the correct handling, application and disposal of pesticides, especially among low-skilled pest control workers. Furthermore, certain measures towards the improvement of this situation at EU level (New European Regulation No 528/2012) are bringing in a new approach by:
- Introducing the term “trained professional user” specifying thus a clear need for training of the professional users;
- Laying down stricter rules for the use and disposal of biocidal products setting up specific requirements for the procedures of waste management of the pest products as well as their packaging.
Thus, the implementation of a qualified training programme for professional users, especially in the EU Member States where such initiatives do not exist, becomes crucial. The PEST PRACTICE project addresses the needs and raises awareness about the risks involved in pest control practices and applications, by transferring and adapting a qualification curriculum of the former EU co-founded project LABITAS, adjusting it to the needs of three EU countries: Greece, Germany, Italy and Cyprus. It is developing training material that facilitates work safety and better understanding of the risks associated with pest control operations.
The overall aim of PEST PRACTICE is to provide an intervention strategy, well-focused on the needs of pest control companies and in full accordance with the current EU legislation framework for biocidal products (which include the pest control agents). This will ensure that the pest control agents are used in a safe way for human health and the environment.
In particular, given the great need for innovative and practical ways to teach valuable competences in work safety and pesticide use as part of the vocational educational training in the target countries, PEST PRACTICE aims to:
- Promote and transfer the innovative “Advanced qualification training Health & Safety including Occupational Health Management in SME“ curriculum for trainers (developed by EU co-funded project LABITAS - http://www.labitas.eu);
- Build on existing knowledge, adapt and expand it, in order to help stakeholders to understand the necessary means for the identification of the common pests found in the cities and afford effective control options;
- Promote the discussion for the common chemical agents used as biocides in the urban and suburban areas, their application techniques, their basic physics and chemistry and their toxicological and eco-toxicological properties;
- Support the project actions and outcomes by means of dedicated communication and mainstreaming tools and practices to enhance the overall outreach of the initiative.
- Enable Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the field to implement Occupational Health Management schemes, which could enhance their competitive potential in the sector of pest control and safety of pesticides;
- Provide SMEs with an adapted training curriculum and methodology, considering the needs of the pest control sector in the target countries (Greece, Italy and Cyprus). This would enable SMEs to fully comply with the existing national and European legislative provisions;
- Give the opportunity to SMEs to train their employees and especially low-skilled workers that apply pesticides in residential areas. Employees will thus enhance their ability to perform pest control operations, by both increasing their efficiency and protecting themselves, public health and the environment.
PEST PRACTICE is a 2 years long initiative, having started in October 2013 and being implemented by an international partnership of 8 expert organisations in 4 EU countries (Greece, Cyprus, Germany and Italy). Joined forces in the fields of Pesticides Control, Vocational Education & Training (VET) and Adult education, Trainee organisations and bodies, Research and IT services, as well as project management and communication, will secure both high quality results and smooth work-plan flow of the project.