The City of Ottawa Public Health branch has recorded a growth in the number of bed bugs in the city over the past twenty years. As an organization providing a service to clients, People, Words & Change (PWC) is visited by many individuals on a weekly basis. People, Words & Change will strive to protect the health and safety of staff, learners, and volunteers by having procedures in place to reduce the risk of bed bug transmission to any staff, learner, volunteer or community member visiting PWC at Heartwood House. Although bed bugs do not carry diseases, the stress and stigma associated with their presence inspires PWC to create this policy to prevent exposure to bed bugs, and to support efforts to control their spread without assigning blame or contributing to stress and stigma. This policy will apply when dealing with other pests and with other risks to health and safety on PWC premises.
This policy applies to all areas of PWC offices where services are provided: reception areas, meeting rooms and staff offices. When tutors and learners meet at other locations, learners and tutors will become aware of and follow the policies of the organizations at those locations.
Everyone has a responsibility in the early identification of the presence of bed bugs and prevention of their transmission.
This policy outlines the role of staff, volunteers and learners in preventing, reporting and responding to bed bugs.
Instructing Staff, Volunteers and Learners
It is important that staff, volunteers and learners use their good judgement and ensure that they are not taking unnecessary risks that may bring bed bugs into Heartwood House and/or their homes. This is consistent with a philosophy of reducing risk and ensuring the well being of PWC’s staff, volunteers, learners and other members of the community.
Prior to commencing tutoring or hiring new employees, staff will discuss the pest prevention policy as part of a conversation about the volunteers’ and learners’ code of conduct.
Responsibilities for Staff, Volunteers and Learners to Report
All staff, volunteers and learners, must immediately report the following circumstances regarding bed bugs to the Executive Director or another staff member:
- any bed bug sightings on the premises of PWC
- potential bed bug sightings (if not able to accurately identify the type of bug
- a person reports that he or she has bed bugs
- a person reports that another person has said that he or she may have bed bugs
- a staff person suspects that another person has bed bugs
Reporting will be done respectfully, in person, by e-mail, or by leaving a phone message. If, during the course of providing or receiving services at PWC, a staff member, learner or volunteer suspects or confirms that a person on site has bed bugs, the staff, learner or volunteer will respond in a respectful manner.
Responsibilities of Staff Members
PWC staff members will be informed about resources in the community, which help in addressing pest control.
When informed that a person on site is carrying or living with bed bugs, or is suspected or same, the Executive Director or other staff member will respectfully explain the intent of the policy on pest control to the person, and:
- Present the person with an information sheet with:
- a summary of the policy, including:
- the rationale for asking the person to leave the premises
- the criteria to be met before returning to the premises
- a summary of the policy, including:
- Respectfully request that the person leave Heartwood House property, if bed bugs or evidence of living with bed bugs are seen on the person;
- Remain in contact with the person, until visits to PWC can be resumed.
Criteria for Returning to PWC Premises
- The returning person will call to make an appointment before returning to PWC.
- The staff person will want to know if the returning person has gone through the process to treat bed bugs. The returnee will need to let staff know what is happening and where he or she is in the process.
- Requesting evidence that problem pests have been eradicated will be at the discretion of the staff member.
In order to be effective in reducing transmissions and managing bed bugs, reports of sightings or suspicions must be as specific and detailed as possible, including a name (or description of the afflicted person), location, time and date of when suspicion, actual sighting, or reporting sighting occurred and the name of the person reporting. Staff will keep records of incidents.
PWC staff will share information with board members about strategies being implemented regarding bed bugs in a general way, as a risk reduction strategy, without identifying the staff or learners affected.
The Executive Director will ensure the privacy of staff, volunteer tutors, and learners who suspect or acquire bed bugs in their own homes.
A Zero Tolerance Policy
Any person may be refused access to PWC premises if he or she does not follow this policy.