Often overlooked in our health and safety procedures these key services support our business.
You may contract out or employ directly but have you risk assessed?
Often when contracted out the cleaners descend on our work place out of hours so there is minimal disruption to your employees during the day… it can be a little impractical to have a hoover running if you are on a call. If they work out of hours, they can become almost invisible to us.
You need to risk assess them within your procedures to ensure that they are working in a safe environment and working in a safe manner.
What do you need to look at?
Below are some examples that require assessment:
- Yes they need a site induction – what areas are they responsible for?
- Do they enter Production areas? Production areas can be a much higher risk – what do you have out there that can be a hazard – what should they never touch, any restricted areas?
- Some service providers have a high turnover of employees and often agency workers fill the gap – you need an arrangement in place with the service provider to let you know when any of their employees change.
- What arrangements are in place?
- Is an emergency contact procedure in place?
- Do the cleaning operatives know your emergency procedures – including fire and the fire assembly point
- How do you know when they are on site?
Accident & Hazard Reporting
- Is a procedure in place?
- How is this communicated to you?
COSHH – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health.
- What products are they using in your work environment?
- Are the products the best option – least hazardous – are there any strong fumes, any residue that could cause sensitivities to employees
- Are products stored correctly – lids on, flammables, in the correct containers.
- Floor cleaners, hoovers – do they use your equipment or bring their own? Ensure clear responsibility is in place for any equipment.
- Is the equipment PAT tested and inspected prior to use?
- Cloths, bin bags – who is responsible for providing these and replacement?
- Do they have to handle the equipment to different floor levels?
Working at Height
- Are steps used? Is there an inspection regime, are the ladders or steps fit for purpose?
- Do they work at height – windows, light fittings etc
- Manual Handling
- If mopping floors, ensure warning signage is in place – you don’t want anyone slipping on a wet floor.
- Check the cleaning operatives have received any relevant risk assessments and know all reporting channels required by you and their employer.
A few additional considerations are also:
- GDPR – ensure no confidential information is left on desks – this could be personnel information or indeed a business contract for a client.
- Operate a clear desk policy, this way it is more efficient to clean and there is no risk of loss of information.
- Recycling – from the location of your waste containers; how far do the operatives have to carry the waste to reach the bin – is the route safe in dark wet conditions. The hierarchy of waste – if you apply a recycling policy ensure the cleaning operatives are aware of this and continue the practise when removing waste.
- Access to potable water – hot and cold.
- Welfare facilities – are also required.
- PPE required – are gloves required, hi-vis, safety footwear?
- Insurance – as with any service provider ensure the company has the relevant insurance required.
- Review Meetings – hold regular review meetings with your service provider
- And finally – the cleaning cupboard – inspect this area as part of your site audits. I have seen many cleaning store cupboards and not all are pretty sights… mop buckets with dirty water, dangerous storage, cramped space, dirty damp smelling cloths – these areas can be a hazard in themselves!
You can see there is much more to the cleaning operations than a duster and polish so check your documentation and if you don’t have it all in place you need to act.
https://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/casestudies/pdf/officecleaning.pdf – this is a useful HSE example risk assessment – use this to build your own site-specific risk assessment.
Professional service providers will often provide you with their documents upon request – prior to any contract – these need to be reviewed and support your own assessment.
If you need any help with the above, contact your advisor or SK Health & Safety on 01427 420 402 or firstname.lastname@example.org and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.