Health and Safety are two words that should be taken seriously in any workplace that wishes to prevent accidents and injuries. Not only that, but it is the law to put these policies in place. In the cleaning industry workers come into contact with hazardous chemicals daily and potentially dangerous situations on a more frequent basis than workers elsewhere. Whilst most workplaces should have a generic Health and Safety policy that covers regular day to day activities, they may not have a unique cleaning Health and Safety policy despite the specific challenges and issues found during such tasks. On that basis, today we will be discussing 5 reasons why your cleaners, or cleaning company, should always have a unique Cleaning Health and Safety Policy.
To provide clear instructions on unique cleaning issues and equipment
Cleaning up small spillages and messes is fairly straight-forward, depending on the substance. However, even in these cases, and especially in more dangerous ones, clear instructions must be laid out to minimise risk to the cleaners and prevent any further incidents. They must include methodologies and instructions on how to safely handle cleaning issues and the chemicals that may be involved or used. It should also mention in the policy that both the company and its staff must make sure that the equipment used is cleaned and maintained to an acceptable standard at all times. This may include PAT testing for electronics, such as vacuums or electric water heaters, ensuring their continued safe use.
To protect employed cleaning workers and the company
Health and Safety for cleaners requires a more specific approach to procedure, rather than a more general policy. As such a cleaning Health and Safety policy should include passages about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), when it should be used, and how to do so safely. While these instructions may not be laid out fully in the policy, there should be a clause stating that correct training will be provided in the use and handling of both PPE and cleaning chemicals. These clauses also help protect the company that issues the PPE and chemicals, ensuring that its correct use prevents risk to its property and, most importantly, to its staff members and on-site visitors. As long as the company follows its own policies and provides the necessary training and equipment, risk of damage and liability to the company is reduced drastically.
To protect the general public during cleaning operations
Working cleaners can broadly be placed into either a domestic or commercial work setting. Domestic cleaning raises a wide variety of specific issues that can occur when visiting places of residence. Health and Safety for domestic cleaning must also incorporate the potential hazards to the resident of the building that is being cleaned, including, but not limited to;
- Potential allergies to certain chemicals
- Making the resident aware of hazards such as wet floors
- The risk of damage to property.
A good Health and Safety policy also includes the mention and requirement of a thorough risk assessment before any cleaning or action is takes place on the property. Do note, these are a legal requirement, so, therefore, must be mentioned somewhere in the policy. Carrying out such an assessment under the guidelines of the cleaning Health and Safety policy allows for the maximum reduction of risk to the general public in both a domestic and commercial setting.
To ensure constant training and up-to-date working standards
Independent standards and certifications change on a constant basis. As new methodologies appear and expected levels of excellence increase over time, it is vital that companies stay abreast of them at all times. This applies especially to the Health and Safety policies for cleaning companies as they must keep up-to-date with growing standards in order to stay within legal and safe working bounds. In some cases, these standards and certifications may be required in order to handle certain chemicals or equipment. COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002) would be a prime example of the kind of standard that all cleaners must be made aware of changes to. This is because it is a regulatory law that requires specific training and information to be given to workers, prior to handling hazardous chemicals. Minimum working knowledge of this regulation is a must for all cleaners.
So people know where they can turn to for help
Lastly, but certainly not least, if staff members (or anyone else for that matter) have an issue or grievance with a cleaning related Health and Safety issue, the policy should have clear instructions about who they can turn to for help. This may be a designated manager or superior, or even information on how to contact relevant government bodies, should the need arise. This information should nearly always be one of the first things the policy mentions as, at times, it can be of critical importance.