The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday a new bill that will bolster the licensing procedures associated with working in the extermination field.

The bill, proposed by the Environmental Protection Ministry, mandates that only operators who receive special licenses from the ministry itself would be able to partake in extermination works.

If passed by the Knesset, the legislation would replace the current situation in which “pest assistants,” who have not undergone adequate training, often perform a significant portion of the extermination work, the ministry said.

The new legislation was proposed in the wake of a fatal incident last month during which two sisters died and others were seriously injured due to the unregulated usage of pesticides in a Jerusalem building.

“Only someone who has him or herself undergone organized training and passed examinations is fit to engage with pesticides,” the bill states. “The extermination license will be personal and non-transferable. This is in contrast to the existing situation, in which the sector is saturated with improper practices under which exterminators ‘sell’ their licenses to people who are not trained and not approved.”

Pesticide usage courses today occur through private colleges without governmental supervision of their activities.

The Environment Ministry determines only the content of the examinations that exterminators need to pass. The new legislation, however, would require ministry supervision over the courses themselves, the ministry said, adding that, at the moment, the examinations’ failure rate is over 60 percent.

In addition to acquiring the license, the bill would obligate the exterminator to present it prior to performing a job. And as a condition of license renewal, the exterminator would need to attend seminars every five years and meet several other obligations, the ministry said.

In order to enforce the measures prescribed by the new legislation, the bill calls for the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to investigate misconduct associated with pesticide misuse.

A pesticide registrar would publish a list of licensed exterminators that would be accessible to the public, according to the bill.

The maximum penalty for violating the law would be up to a year in prison and a fine of up to NIS 904,000. Additionally, the ministry would be able to impose financial sanctions and fines of up to NIS 10,000 for an individual and NIS 50,000 for a corporation.

The bill is expected to go through its first reading in the Knesset plenary in the coming weeks, the Environmental Protection Ministry said.

Stressing the importance of providing maximum protection to citizens against the improper use of pesticides, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz praised the committee’s approval as an “important step.”

“With the help of the legislation we will close all the loopholes that existed, in order to ensure the safety of the citizens,” Peretz said. “The legal situation in which an exterminator can be assisted by a person who is not authorized [to do so] during the implementation of the job creates unnecessary risks. The new law intends to produce significant change in the provision of licenses, in training courses, in routine monitoring and in enforcement.”

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