Clean workplaces are healthy workplaces
Clean workplaces are healthy workplaces
Occupational Health Awareness Week is here. Although many associate that with safe lifting practices, using hard hats and removal of trip hazards, cleaning in the workplace is just as – if not more – important.
Cleaning isn’t just a nice-to-have to keep the workplace looking and smelling fresh. It matters directly to the safety and health of your employees.
Regular cleaning with the right products reduces the risk of injury
Slips and trips are the most common cause of major injuries at work. So, it’s vital to keep on top of things with a regular cleaning schedule and frequent checks throughout the day to reduce risk of slips, trips and falls – quickly cleaning up spills, for example. But the connection goes further than that. Slips can also be caused if the wrong cleaning product is used in the wrong place. Effective cleaning is way to manage slips and trips risks, and you need to ensure you choose appropriate commercial chemicals for floor cleaning. Sometimes, cleaning itself can introduce slip or trip hazards thanks to wet floors, or a forgotten wet floor warning sign. Where possible, schedule cleaning out of office hours to reduce these risks, or if not ensure you leave a dry path for staff and clear warning signage.
Communicate with cleaners to prevent problems
Your cleaners are contributors to the occupational health of your workforce. One bad fall could see someone off work for a long time. So, communicate with them carefully. For example: some specialist floor surfaces need specific cleaning methods to maintain their properties and prevent them becoming stained and slippery. Whenever a new floor surface is laid, ensure your cleaning team is properly briefed and trained to make sure floors are safe after cleaning, and well-maintained in the long run. As above, make sure you have the right products on hand for cleaners to use – never defaulting to domestic products which will not come with the same level of clear usage, health and safety data.
Good workplace hygiene reduces staff absence
Outbreaks of seasonal flu, Covid, or norovirus in the workplace can cause significant employee absence which are costly and have a direct impact on productivity. That’s why good hygiene practices in the workplace are essential – they can help reduce the risk of illnesses being spread, especially during the winter months. Since 39% of UK office workers admit to not washing their hands properly after using the toilet, promoting good behaviours like handwashing with appropriate signage is essential. Provide good quality hand soap and drying supplies in your washrooms – making sure that supplies don’t run out by checking regularly, and the supplies cupboard stocked. Having hand sanitizer in strategic places around the office is also advisable – and many have become a little complacent on this, since the pandemic waned.
Provide the right PPE to protect workers
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protects your staff against the risks of their roles. It also protects your cleaning team against health and safety risks associated with cleaning products. Gloves will protect their hands from harsh cleaning chemicals, and – depending on the cleaning job required – protective masks, clothing or eyewear might be needed too. Your cleaning supplier should advise you on what you should obtain to keep staff and cleaners safe, but you might also involve staff in setting the specifications, too – you will get fit and weight right, and they will buy into the idea and be more likely to use the PPE correctly. The HSE provides a useful page of information about PPE. It’s not just about putting on PPE, but also taking it off – don’t forget to train your cleaning team in how to remove gloves safely without coming into contact with the chemicals they’ve been using.
Additional benefits to a clean workplace
A clean, well-cared-for working environment influences employee mindset which is a huge contributor to occupational health and wellbeing. It brings positivity, helping your team take pride in their work. And a tidy working environment where your staff are healthy and happy makes for a far more productive working environment.
Investment in good cleaning practices and products pays dividends.