cleaning-health-and-safety-essentials
GJ COMMERCIAL CLEANING

6 essential HEALTH AND SAFETY RULES for cleaning companies

Health and Safety Awareness in your Commercial Cleaning business is of paramount importance. Whether you hire 1 employee or 1000, you need to have strict procedures and policies in place to protect your staff, clients and the general public. Failure to do so can result in workplace injury and infection, for which your organisation is responsible.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is arguably one of the most important pieces of legislation that your commercial cleaning company needs to pay attention to.

In this weeks blog post, we look at 6 essential health and safety rules that every cleaning company should be following.  Please remember, there are many other procedures you should be following and more guidance for cleaning companies can be found from HSE by clicking here.

FIRST AID

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.

You should take precautions to avoid injuries, infections and illnesses, but despite this, it is inevitable that at some point accidents and such will occur in your cleaning company.

You should ensure that each of your sites has a maintained, well-stocked first aid kit and approved first aiders. It is standard within the commercial cleaning industry that a lot of our staff are classed as ‘lone workers.  Your lone working staff may not always have a first-aider to turn to, so make sure self-care first aid knowledge is top of your agenda.

Finally, you have a duty to inform all staff of your relevant first aid procedures, it wise to go over these during your employee inductions and display clear signage and informative posters in your cleaning cupboards.

control of substances hazardous to health

For commercial cleaning companies, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations play a big role in health and safety procedures.

In 2019, 1.4 millions workers in the UK suffered from ill health which was work related. Many of those suffered injuries and medical conditions that were caused by exposure to dangerous substances. The COSHH regulations are designed to keep staff safe and reduce the number of work related illnesses and injuries.

Cleaning agents and other substances that you use in your commercial cleaning operations will fall under the COSHH regulations so it is important to familiarise yourself with them. In order to use these hazardous substances safely, you should consider the risks associated with peoples’ health and ensure that control measures are used and maintained by everyone in your company. Lastly, you need to make sure your staff are informed, trained and supervised in the correct way to use, store and handle hazardous substances.

ACCIDENT REPORTING AND RIDDOR

It is essential that you introduce an accident reporting system on-site for employees, clients and visitors to report accidents, incidents, dangerous occurrences, diseases and near misses. Accident and incident reporting is an important aspect of monitoring or measuring safety performance and allows an organisation, through investigations, to learn from mistakes and improve health and safety. You should explain to staff how they should use your accident reporting book and the subsequent steps you will take.

RIDDOR applies to every workplace in the UK, so it is important to understand the requirements, what to report, and when. Under the RIDDOR regulations, your commercial cleaning company has a legal duty to report certain serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses). You can read more on what you need to report and when here.

risk assessments and method statements

In your commercial cleaning company, you should undertake risk assessments to determine the potential harm that could be caused to people in the course of their work.

You should determine whether a hazard is significant and if you have taken enough precautions to ensure that the risk is being minimised, or whether more could be done. For example, if your staff are vacuuming premises and the vacuum cable is trailing across the floor then someone could trip over it. To minimise the risk you could train staff to ensure the cable is out of the way, ‘cleaning in progress’ signs are being used at entrance points and the operative is staying alert to others passing by. Click here to view an example of a risk assessment for general office cleaning.

manual handling

Commerial Cleaning work is demanding and labour intensive. In addition, cleaners are often required to work in tricky positions for long periods of time. Many tasks involved heavy manual work, including mopping, wiping surfaces, lifting refuse and vacuuming stairs etc.

A joint survey by UNISON and the Health and Safety Executive found that 20% of cleaning staff using floor-buffing machines, mops and vacuum cleaners needed time off work because of aches and pains caused by using the equipment.

As a commercial cleaning company owner or a health and safety manager, it is important that your staff are trained correctly and regularly in how to lift and operate equipment properly in accordance with the Manual Handling Regulations. 

personal protective equipment

The PPE Regulations 2018, is a development of the original Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, which means when there is a risk to workers, PPE must be used and maintained.

When deciding how you need to arrange the selection and use of cleaning PPE, each site will be different and have their own unique requirements. For example, an office environment will have different PPE requirements than a warehouse environment.

The general cleaning PPE items you should have across each of your sites will include safety goggles, hi-vis clothing, gloves, masks, shoe covers, aprons and safety posters and signage. This list is exhaustive and as mentioned above, you will need to carry out risk assessments to determine a sites needs.

summary

Health and safety should be an integral part of commercial cleaning companies of all shapes and sizes. Whilst it is imperative that the wellbeing and safety of employees, clients and the general public are highly valued and protected for their own sake, ensuring that this is the case also makes perfect business sense too. Being health and safety compliant reduces the risk of prosecution, fines, and reputational damage, and so improves the likelihood of positive business performance.

At GJ Commercial Cleaning we place a huge importance on our Health and Safety policies and procedures. If you want to find out more about how we work then get in contact with us today. You can also request to see a copy of our health and safety policy, all you have to do is send us an email and one of our team will get back to you promptly.

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