The cleaning industry covers multiple sectors and employs a large workforce in the UK that’s worth over £9 billion, according to a recent article by the BBC. Commercial cleaning is the largest within this industry as it covers hospitals, schools, offices, airports and many more. This industry has always thrived due to the high demand for cleanliness and expected to have a steady growth until 2020 (AMA research, 2015).
Just like any industry, the health, safety and welfare of employees within the cleaning industry should also be protected at all times. Cleaning contractors should complete a risk assessment before carrying out any work, as highlighted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The risk assessment will help cleaning contractors to identify some of the hazards like slippery surfaces, condition of cleaning equipment, handling of hazardous cleaning substances, what to do in the event of fire etc. By identifying the hazards they would be able to convey this back to their employees, which would help minimise any injuries caused to them due to these hazards. The cleaning contractor could also use this information to review and update the risk assessment on an annual basis.
Along with the above hazards, we also look into some general risks that could affect the safety of cleaners and how to overcome these below:
– Cleaners are always in close contact with chemical cleaning products which could be harmful for their skin. Use appropriate gloves and protective clothing at all times thus minimising the risk.
– Most cleaners work alone in commercial offices after normal working hours, which makes them very vulnerable if they slip or trip while cleaning up wet floors or spillages. It would be beneficial for them to wear appropriate footwear and carry a personal safety device with a “Fall Alarm” feature that would automatically alert their supervisor, if they slip/trip and injure themselves.
– Working at height is another major factor that affects the health and safety of employees. By planning ahead and using structurally sound ladders or step ladders would help avoid injury due to working from a height. Read our 3 step rule to reduce injuries caused by falls from height blog for more information.
– Due to their demanding and labour intensive work, cleaners often find themselves with Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as strain or sprain affecting their back, neck, shoulders and upper limbs. Cleaning contractors should take a proactive approach in training their employees on correct cleaning methods that reduces strain and ensure that the cleaners know how to report any incidents that affect their health.
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