Health and safety for industrial cleaners
Protecting the health and safety of your employees is a legal responsibility for any employer, and this applies no matter what your staff’s roles and responsibilities are, or the sector your business belongs to. However, ensuring your workforce’s health and safety in the industrial cleaning industry is particularly vital, and this is due to the various hazards an industrial cleaner may face on a daily basis.
This is because industrial cleaners are required to clean various interior and exterior parts of a building, from the floors to the windows, and everything in between. This means that some of the most obvious potential hazards industrial cleaners need to be aware of are using harsh chemical cleaning products, and working at height or on a slippery surface (such as a freshly mopped floor!). However, your other employees and any members of the general public that visit your building can also be put at risk if you don’t take appropriate measures to implement the correct health and safety procedures on site.
Here are some of the steps you should take to ensure health and safety of your workers and members of the general public in the industrial cleaning industry…
Working at height
Industrial cleaners are often required to work at height when cleaning windows and exterior areas of a building, and one of the biggest risks they face doing this is slipping and falling. This can cause serious injuries, permanent disability, and even death if the fall is from a height of 2 or more metres. However, they also need to be protected from the risk of being hit by moving and falling objects.
Although the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that employees should avoid working at height whenever possible, this isn’t always feasible for industrial cleaners who are required to complete tasks such as cleaning windows and other exterior areas of a building. In these cases, there are a number of precautions you should take to protect your employees, such as not overloading ladders or using them for extended periods. They should also be anchored with a restraint system, and be supplied with the correct PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), including helmets and high visibility workwear.
Working with chemicals
Workers in the industrial cleaning industry often have their hands wet for an extended period of time (which can lead to dermatitis), and they’re also required to handle chemical cleaning products. If these come into contact with your skin and eyes, they can cause irritation and skin allergies, with symptoms including rashes, itching, and a burning sensation. Corrosive ingredients in chemical cleaners also have the potential to cause serious burns, and breathing in certain chemicals can also irritate your nose and throat, and increase your risk of developing asthma.
To protect the health and safety of employees that work with chemical cleaning products, you should prevent it coming into contact with their skin by storing the chemicals securely, and providing workers with appropriate PPE, such as gloves, aprons, and eye protection. Rooms should also be well ventilated during cleaning, and you should encourage your cleaners to wash their hands regularly.
Working with slippery surfaces
Cleaning hard floors and pavements has the potential to cause injury not just to the worker completing the task, but to other employees and any members of the general public that visit your premises. Slips, trips, and falls can cost your business money if you don’t take appropriate steps to prevent them, and they make up around 40% of all reported major injuries in the workplace. Unfortunately, these can be easily caused by wet surfaces from cleaning, as well as loose wires and cleaning equipment.
One of the easiest ways to prevent slips, trips and falls during cleaning is to clearly display a ‘Wet Floor’ Sign, and ensure that this isn’t removed until the area has dried, and the slip risk has been eliminated. Your cleaners should also be provided with slip-resistant footwear, and if possible, cleaning should be carried out at times when your premises are the least busy.
To find out more about how you can use safety workwear to ensure your workers’ health and safety in the industrial cleaning industry, check out our range of high visibility and flame resistant garments or contact phs Besafe.