Do Rats Create A Hazardous Situation?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about rats:

At my workplace there are rats living in the drop ceiling. They have to be going to the bathroom up there and when it rains the roof leaks. Isn’t all of that dripping down into the work area dangerous? Couldn’t it cause mold up there even without the bad roof?

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

We are a workplace communication site rather than a workplace safety site. However, there is a need to communicate with someone about your concerns, so we’ll share a few thoughts about the overall issue.Rats and mice are present in many old buildings, rural houses and stores and businesses of all kinds. They can transmit diseases, according to the situation and degree of contact. However, that is something that would need to be determined by an inspector. They also can create fire hazards if they chew on electrical wires.Talk to your manager and ask if an exterminator can be brought in to get rid of the rats. If you’re in an old building or a building near others that are infested it may be very difficult to reduce the population, but it’s worth considering. In one old building with which I’m familiar that number of rats was reduced dramatically over a few months by using live-traps and repairing the areas where rats had gained access. If that isn’t feasible, at least the leaking roof and ceiling could be fixed so soiled water doesn’t drip into areas used by employees. That seems like a reasonable thing to do anyway, to prevent potential damage to property. There is even a potential for a portion of the ceiling to give way and fall, causing injury.

Consider contacting a city or state health board about the matter. Local building inspectors may also have a role. Fire department inspectors sometimes are concerned about the potential for fire from chewed wiring, so they might want to know there is an infestation. It will be preferable to contact those resources openly, but you may need to keep your role quiet for now. If there are several employees who are concerned it might weigh more with the employer than if you are the only one. I think you should put your concerns in writing so you have a record of your attempts to get action–just in case that is needed.Best wishes with this obnoxious problem!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.