What is the State of Physical and Mental Health in the Pest Control Industry?

For several years now, the NPMA (National Pest Management Association) has held morning physical fitness workouts in the early morning of its’ National Academy. When I last attended the academy, the overwhelming response of fellow participants was that the workout was fun, relevant, engaging and a great team activity. Kudos to the NPMA for opening up members to consider their physical health as an important part of leadership and organizational well-being. As I reflect back on the activity, I think the NPMA approach was a positive and gentle step in the right direction.

In the age of reality TV, specificially when “The Biggest Loser” is highlighting the problem of obesity in America, could or should the NPMA take a more introspective and scientific approach to physical and mental health in the pest control industry? This is not a jab at the organization. The first focus of the NPMA should be the pest control business as a whole, not the individual health of members. But perhaps the time has come to investigate the health status of employees and employers in the industry? Are we simply as heavy, overworked and stressed out as the rest of Americans? If so, that would be bad enough. Or are we in a class by ourselves when it comes to obesity, smoking, drinking, stimulants, depressants and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Are we more depressed than the average American? Does anyone know? How much do we really care? (Note that as this post is published I have just received a copy of the latest Pestworld Magazine, a publication of the NPMA. I’m dying to read the article, “Re-engaging Burned-Out Employees.”)

Consider for a minute the scope of the problems caused by obesity in the workplace. Check out this worker’s compensation dispute pitting the employer against a 400 lb employee. If you don’t care for anecdotal information, check out the Alabama Fat Tax.

Personal observation over the years at NPMA conventions and just poking around the industry, watching my own employees at Hearts Pest Management and those I have met up with at shopping malls and on side streets tells me that there is a serious problem here, both in the physical and mental health picture.

The following chart identifies simple loss of productivity due to chronic ailments. The second chart identifies a rather scary problem with mental health issues in the workplace.

Average Days Lost in the U.S. Workforce by Age and Health Status

Days per Month Reported of Poor Mental Health in the Work Trades

I am extremely happy when I say, Hearts Pest Management is almost 100% smoke free. With the exception of a few pounds here or there around the waist, our team is actually very fit and trim. I’m proud to have a team that not only acts professional, but that smells and looks professional. I’m tremendously happy to be fielding a team that is not plagued by physical and emotional handicaps.

But to be perfectly honest, it hasn’t always been the case. I always worried about physical health problems seeping into, causing or being symptoms of mental health issues. I could point to these physical and emotional issues as the underlying cause of worker’s compensation claims and general liability nightmares. I can look back and see warning signs in the poor habits of prior employees, ones who showed many strengths, but who were brought down by a lack of self-awareness and personal failings, including obvious poor physical care.

Our industry does a good job covering entomology, pesticide advances, business news, marketing and sales and recognition of industry stars. Is it time for us to focus on the average Joe/Jane employer or employee who is physically and mentally running himself into the ground?

I suggest it is time for the industry to take a look in the mirror. It may be painful. But self-awareness is the start of the healing process.

In coming weeks I will be talking more specifically about a variety of health topics.

8 Responses to What is the State of Physical and Mental Health in the Pest Control Industry?

  1. Nate Heller says:

    Hi. I have a blog about how to start a pest control business, and your blog is a good resource for my readers, so I have put a link to your blog on my sidebar. You can view it at http://www.how-to-start-a-pest-control-business.com/blog/ . If you would consider linking back to my blog I think some of your readers might find useful information on my blog as well. You could use the keywords “pest control business” as the anchor text, or some variation of that. Thank you for your time. – Nate Heller

  2. Gerry says:

    Hello Nate,

    I have added your link. What a nice, well focused website you have. I’m impressed with your track record. I imagine that you have been heavily focused on door-to-door sales. Is that correct? I don’t know many other ways to build 5 pest control companies with 30,000 accounts in such a short time.

    Your customers will be well served with the package of information and resources you are putting together for an industry startup pest control company.

    Best wishes,


  3. thanks for nice information……..

  4. Great blog post, i love the visuals!

    @Nate great website!

  5. Gerry says:

    Thank you for your encouragement. I’m glad you enjoyed the visuals. Originally, I was just journaling, as many people do. But it doesn’t take much extra work to add some imagery or video that gets the point across. It’s very compelling.

    I want to say that I visited your enpropest.com website and found it to be very compelling too. It is very clean and clear. I was also happy to know that the Hearts Consulting Group blog is getting attention in Canada. Kudos for your community contributions. I’d love to read and hear more about that.

    It’s interesting to compare your website with that of my pest control company, Hearts Pest Management. There are many ways you can go with a website. One is the clear, simple and straightforward method, which you have done. It reminds me of the way Google does it. Compare that to the Hearts Pest Management website, which takes more of the Yahoo approach, that we do alot and need to be as informative as we can, packing the screen with content. Both methods are good. In fact, in many ways I prefer the way you did it. Our method is good for deep content. Visit the Hearts Pest Management site in a few months. We have a new version coming out. The overall style of the website is not changing, but it will have much more social content, including a blog, a forum and all sorts of viral buttons. As I have attempted, with some steps backward and forward, to distinguish my consulting blog from my pest control business, you will see that the pest control business blog will focus more on entomology and daily work, whereas this one focuses more on the people side of the industry and larger issues of business.

    BTW, I’ll add your blog to our blogroll.



  6. From my point of view it is really important to monitor the Pest Control companies workers. Even though they are protected, they are exposed to toxics constantly, and that can be reflected in their health when they retire.

  7. Gerry says:

    Thank you for contributing to the thought and content of this blog.

    You are absolutely right. If there is a terrible accident, you will probably know in short order if the worker is sick, but it is also true that there is a likelihood of long term exposure damage. That would need to be monitored not just across a company. It would be better to monitor these types of problems with studies across the range of companies, large and small.

  8. Very good article. I know someone that has been very ill due to long exposure to pesticides.

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