Spring is here. The weather is (just about) warming up, and the time has come to do a Spring Clean. Traditionally done in houses to remove the dust and grime of winter, many businesses use it as an excuse to clean and tidy up their business. Good deep cleans are essential in many industries, for example food and laboratories, but with viral infections such as COVID-19 spreading through the population, infection control via deep cleans are becoming more common.
Many businesses will hire external companies to do this. They know the risks associated with the substances and hazards of the industry. But it is also important they are aware of the hazards your day to day work may have on them. Good communication is essential.
So what are the main hazards that need to be included in a spring cleaning Risk assessment and training?
Working at height: Cleaning can involve using ladders and stepladders, and you need to ensure this is the best option, is thoroughly assessed, the equipment properly maintained and inspected, and the employees trained. Additional risks may exist when window cleaning. We have an introduction to working at height e-Learning course that may help.
Substances hazardous to health: Where possible use non-hazardous substances, and not those designed for household use. Ensure you obtain the safety data sheet, risk assess it and train the operatives. Again, our e-Learning course on COSHH may help.
Dermatitis: Work-related contact dermatitis is a skin disease caused by work. It develops when the skin is damaged. This leads to redness, itching, swelling, blistering, flaking and cracking. The most susceptible parts of the body are the hands, followed by the forearms and face. It can be severe enough to keep you off work or even force you to change jobs.
Injuries to backs and upper limbs: According to the HSE, “Cleaning work is demanding and labour intensive. Many tasks involve using cleaning machines and heavy manual work, including mopping, wiping surfaces, polishing, moving rubbish bags, furniture and equipment, putting strain on the heart, muscles and other tissues. Cleaners are often required to work in awkward postures for long periods which may lead to long-term damage.”
Of course a Spring Clean is more than just cleaning. It’s tidying up too. Use it as an excuse to throw away unwanted items, just dumped in a corner. Just this week I suggested to a client that it was about time they threw away their 2013 desk calendar!
So make the most of early Spring, boost infection control, and do your Spring Clean, but do it safely.