Health and Safety Considerations for Commercial Cleaners
Commercial cleaners face various risks and hazards during the course of their work. The dangers range from potential skin irritation to musculoskeletal disorders from working with hazardous and often strong cleaning products and chemicals. Particularly when cleaning premises and locations needing additional attention, such as schools and universities, many of the chemicals commercial cleaners use can cause, sometimes, severe injury.
Here we run through essential health and safety considerations for commercial cleaners to keep safe and healthy at work.
What Are the Health and Safety Concerns for Commercial Cleaners?
Many of the cleaning products used by professionals every day are toxic or corrosive. For example, something as simple as One Shot Drain Cleaner can, if used incorrectly, cause skin burns and irritation. Over time, close contact with these substances can have adverse health effects. Health problems can occur as a result of prolonged skin contact with powerful substances or inhalation of toxic chemicals.
Some of the health conditions that cleaners may encounter without proper controls and mitigations in place include:
- Skin Allergies
- Skin Burns
- Eye Damage
How Can Commercial Cleaners Protect Themselves?
There are many options to consider for commercial cleaners to protect themselves against these health conditions. It is highly recommended that cleaners be familiar with COSHH, control of substances hazardous for health, and the HSE, Health and safety executive. These government-run organisations regulate dangers in the workplace.
COSHH provide training and certificates to help people identify where and when there is a danger, understand the different risks and hazards and use PPE correctly. First-aid training is also advised if you will be working with toxic substances.
Prevent Exposure to Harmful Substances
COSHH and HSE provide advice to help commercial cleaners avoid exposure to toxic substances. They suggest that all cleaners:
- Use good work techniques that avoid or minimise contact with harmful substances and minimise leaks and spill.
- Store cleaning products safely
- Use personal protective equipment like protective gloves, aprons, and eye protection for some tasks
- Practice good hand care: remove contamination promptly and adequately, wash hands, dry thoroughly and use skin creams regularly
- Keep the workplace well ventilated
Tips For Top Health and Safety Practices as A Commercial Cleaner
- Let people know that you’re cleaning
Letting people around you know that you are cleaning will help avoid slips and trips while you work. Use clear signage if you are mopping the floors, and ensure the sign is in a dry area well-visible before people near the wet spot.
- Use the right equipment
As a commercial cleaner will need the right PPE (personal protective equipment) while cleaning. Protective gloves should always be used when workings with substances that can be harmful to the skin. If your gloves are single-use gloves, throw them away after completing each cleaning task.
Aprons and eye protection are essential protection for many tasks. Goggles and face shields protect your eyes and face from splashes. You should also wear waterproof and slip-resistant footwear to defend against spillages and slips.
Commercial cleaners should also change cloths, mops, and buckets between each area of work to avoid any cross-contamination.
- Take care with powerful products
It would be best to read the labels on the back of products each time to ensure you follow the instructions properly.
It is usually recommended to work in a well-ventilated area. Turn on fans or open windows and doors, and wear respirators when advised. After use, check that all caps are screwed back on bottles containers securely. Hazardous products should always be stored in a cool, dark place where spillages can be kept under control.
- Training and supervision
You may consider taking COSHH training or a first-aid course to better equip yourself to deal with the health and safety concerns of commercial cleaning. If you are overseeing other cleaners, always train and supervise them properly.
If you are a supervisor of commercial cleaners, it is your responsibility to make sure that they are provided with the correct PPE for the task at hand. Teaching safe working procedures and practices can ensure a safe working environment for everyone and prevent needless accidents.