Industrial Cleaning Health and Safety

The need to follow safety procedures and use the right equipment

Industrial and commercial settings often require specialist, heavy duty cleaning involving the use of powerful materials and perhaps difficult access such as working at height when cleaning windows and hard to reach lighting installations. In either case, proper adherence to good health and safety procedures is vital and this often involves the use of protective equipment.

Risk assessment

When, for example, a contract cleaning company is asked to come and quote for a new job they would assess the risks involved in undertaking the cleaning tasks. If a company directly employs cleaners then they would carry out a risk assessment and communicate the findings to the cleaning staff.

Areas covered would include:

  • Slips and trips possibilities
  • Working at height implications
  • COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health)
  • Injury potential (lifting items to gain access to clean them, for example)

The above are all health and safety concerns, and the HSE has a section devoted to the cleaning industry.

The risk assessment would go on to cover areas such as:

  • Lines of communication between the cleaning company (or cleaning employees) and the business
  • Facilities available to the cleaners such as storage facilities and access to sinks and running water
  • The client company’s own safe practice activities such as keeping walkways clear, prompt mopping up of spillages and so on
  • Accident, ‘near miss’ and damage reporting (for example, loose floor tiles or anything with the potential to cause accidents)
  • The secure storage of cleaning equipment, especially hazardous substances and procedures put in place to ensure only trained cleaning staff can access them
  • What cleaning staff should do in the event of a fire

Hazards to cleaning personnel and remedies

Cleaning substances – some cleaning materials including fluids can be highly toxic and dangerous if not handled properly. If a certain product is used, then knowing what procedures to follow in its use and what safety equipment to use.

It may be that gloves and goggles are required and perhaps a breathing mask if the substance gives off dangerous fumes. Staff using the substance should know how much to use and (if applicable) how to prepare it; for example, how many parts of the substance to mix with water or similar.

It’s then important to assess what items of protective and safety equipment may be required (for example, disposable overalls or gloves) and ensuring a good supply is ordered from a suitable industrial cleaning supplies company.

Slips and trips – these can sometimes be caused by the cleaning staff to employees of the company. For example, not leaving warning signs out when a floor has been wet cleaned can cause hazards as could cleaning a surface with the wrong cleaning material that makes it slippery.

Good practices when using cabling such as when operating vacuum cleaners to avoid trips should be utilised.

Working at height – this is governed by Work at Height Regulations. Proper and thorough assessment and planning should be undertaken, and the ensuring that those working at height are competent to do so. Equipment such as ladders should be regularly checked and maintained, and proper fall prevention and fall breaking equipment (such as harnesses) should be used where applicable.

Injury prevention – cleaning is a physically demanding and labour intensive occupation, and staff are often working in awkward postures when accessing difficult to reach areas. Strain on muscles, nerves and bones can result.

The Health and Safety at Work Act requires employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees as far as is practical. With injuries, it’s a question of monitoring activities and looking for the following signs:

  • Increased sickness and absences amongst staff
  • More reports of pain and discomfort from employees especially relating to certain tasks or using a particular piece of equipment such as a heavy floor cleaner
  • More accidents and injuries being recorded
  • Low morale or reluctance amongst staff to undertake certain tasks
  • Evidence of staff wearing bandages, splints or some type of back support

If any or all of the above surface, then investigative work is required to isolate the issue.

Good cleaning practices

It all starts with an effective risk assessment and regular monitoring of the situation whether running a team of contract cleaners or directly employing cleaning staff.

Learn More

When Do Your Employees Need SMSTS Refresher Training?

Certification lasts for five years, but refresher training is recommended every three years.

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme is an industry recognised course that ensures compliance with all today’s legislative Health and Safety demands.

Statistics recently released by the Health and Safety Executive confirmed what the construction industry has intuitively known for some time – that the UK is a world leader in the implementation of Health and Safety practices.

Inevitably, this laudable position has not come about without significant legislation. The construction industry is statistically the most high-risk profession in terms of employee injuries, and is regulated accordingly. It is, therefore, particularly important that businesses working in this sector understand and comply with the rules.

Conducting site risk assessments, displaying the correct warning signs and ensuring personnel are adequately trained are all key to maintaining a robust culture of Health and Safety, ensuring that employees are safe, your business is in compliance and the UK’s position as a trailblazer in Health and Safety is maintained.

What is SMSTS?

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme is a five-day course aimed at Site Managers, Agents and anybody who is, or is going to be, responsible for planning, organising, monitoring, controlling and administering other personnel and groups of workers.

This course covers the relevant legislation and other important considerations that relate to safe working practices in the building, construction and civil engineering industries.

What does the course involve?

Participants are taught all they need to know in order to effectively enforce their health and safety code of practice onsite in the real world. This includes the importance of carrying out risk assessments in the workplace and tools to manage and monitor the numerous hazards that those working within the construction industry encounter every day.

There are a number of workshop sessions on specific areas that carry their own unique risks, including working with scaffolding, electricity, in confined spaces and performing excavation work.

Legislation

Attendees will become familiar with the following important pieces of HSE legislation:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995
  • Provision & Use of Work Equipment 1998
  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Working at Height Regulations 2005
  • Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006
  • Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007

Assessment and Certification

Course assessment is through a combination of core exercises and a final multiple-choice examination.

Participants receive their Construction Site Manager’s Safety Certificate on successful completion of the course. Note that for successful completion, attendance is mandatory at all sessions and workshops.

Refresher Training

The Certificate remains valid for five years. However, Health and Safety legislation is constantly changing and evolving, as are the technologies and methodologies employed in the construction, building and civil engineering sectors.

For these reasons, it is considered best practice for everyone to undertake an SMSTS Refresher Course no later than three years after completing the full training course.

Stay on top of the world

The UK is justifiably proud of its world-leading position in Health and Safety. Keep your employees safe, your business in compliance and the UK on top of the world rankings by booking SMSTS refresher training today!

Learn More

How to Manage Mobile Worker Health and Safety

IOSH issues a new guide for mobile workers’ health, safety and security.

New publication is specifically aimed at companies who deploy employees overseas on both long and short term assignments.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has teamed up with the International SOS Foundation to develop a new publication that outlines an organisation’s responsibilities for the health, safety and security of workers who travel overseas in the course of their work.

“Managing the Safety, Health and Security of Mobile Workers: An Occupational Safety and Health Practitioner’s Guide” is one of a range of IOSH courses in London. It discusses how an occupational safety and health professional’s skills, knowledge and expertise can help organisations care for workers who are travelling the world on business by developing the competencies to assess risk. It also gives guidance to subsequently plan, maintain and implement risk mitigation strategies, systems and procedures.

The Guide addresses the need for careful planning and preparation in considering worker wellbeing and medical, personal safety and security issues. It goes on to make the case for dynamic risk assessment, in which risk is constantly re-assessed in line with changing health, security and political conditions.

It also reviews such issues as safety while travelling on roads, things to consider when choosing accommodation and managing the risks from diseases.

In addition, the guide examines how to react if a critical situation develops, and highlights the need for advance planning in terms of scenario analysis and development of emergency action plans.

In recognition of the diversity of people in the workplace, the publication also covers the specific arrangements that may be required for women, older workers, workers with disabilities, those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and students on placement.

The guide aims to help companies build competencies and therefore resilience, allowing health and safety professionals to contribute to a company’s overall travel management processes.  As Dr Pascal Rey-Herme, group medical director at International SOS, says in the foreword to the Guide: “The world is changing. Many people no longer work in their home country. Organisations around the globe are expanding and sending their people to work in emerging markets and high-risk locations.”

Learn More

Health And Safety At Home: Don’t Leave Your Pets in the Conservatory in Summer

Keep your pets safe in hot weather by keeping them out of hot, stuffy living spaces

Conservatories can get very warm during the summer months – and that could be lethal for your pet.

We all love to spend time with our pets in the summer, and we’re always looking out for their well-being too. We make sure that they’ve got access to plenty of water, never leave them in hot cars and always ensure that we play with them in the shade. When it comes to leaving your pet at home though, it’s important to be aware of just how dangerous it can be to leave them in the conservatory.

Spending time together

We spend a lot of time in our conservatories during the summer. With the doors open and the sunshine streaming in through the windows, they’re a great place to relax. Chances are, your pets will be there with you too, whether it’s your cat making the most of the sun or your dog waiting for you to throw a ball out into the garden for them to catch. However, you should never be tempted to shut them in there while you’re not there.

Our pets are more sensitive to high temperatures

We’re all aware of the dangers of leaving our pets in the car, and those exact same dangers are there in your conservatory. It can become hot very quickly, and what starts as a comfortable temperature for your pet can soon become dangerous. Some conservatory glass, such as Solarlux windows, is very good at reflecting heat, but that’s to make the room more comfortable for you, not safe for your pets to be kept in. No matter how cool it may feel to you, it’s never worth the risk.

Keep your pet safe this summer

Babies can get too hot very quickly too, so take the same approach as you would do with your pets and never leave them unsupervised in your conservatory. When you do leave your pet indoors during the summer, always make sure that they have access to water and shade – and keep your conservatory off limits.

Learn More

Safety Advice For Roofers

Roofer safely working on a roof, with a harnessHow To Keep Safe On The Roof

Work as a roofer? You’ll know that safety is the most important part of the job. We take a look a rooftop safety.

If you work as a roofer, then you’ll already know that safety is the most important part of the job. With so much potential risks in this line of work, it’s essential to have adequate training and take all necessary precautions to prevent any nasty accidents. In this post we look at the most important things to remember if you want to keep safe while working on a roof.

Insurance

With a job that carries risks, it is especially important to take out roofers insurance so that you are covered in the event of any incidents. Do your research and make sure you get the best cover for your money.

Adequate Access Equipment

It’s essential to ensure that you have adequate access equipment in order to access a roof safely. This means having the right ladder for the space, and ensuring that all equipment is in full working order. It’s worth taking the time to search the internet to see what sort of new equipment is available – especially if you have been in the industry and using the same equipment for a long time. If this is the case, then it is also necessary to make sure that older equipment is checked and updated if required.

Edge Protection

In many cases it is necessary to set up some kind of edge protection, such as a guard rail, toe board or brick guard. This adds an extra layer of security should you or a colleague loose your footing or drop equipment – remember, you have to keep any potential passers-by safe, as well as yourself.

Personal Protective Equipment

It is essential to use adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) including helmets, goggles and gloves. Make sure any PPE used meets minimum safety standards and is in fully functioning order. This offers extra protection in the event of an accident, and can make all the difference between a minor and a major incident.

Keep The Site Tidy

It is essential to keep your site tidy at all times. It’s obvious that working at a height is risky, but don’t forget that it can be just as hazardous to be on the ground. Falling materials are one of the most common causes of accidents experienced by roofers, demonstrating the need to be clean and ordered. You should never throw anything from a roof, and it’s important to use nets if there is any chance of materials falling – this is mandatory if working in a public space.

Transport Materials Safely

You should never be tempted to carry too much up a ladder, as you risk losing your balance or dropping materials on people standing below. It’s far better to make several trips and take longer doing a safe job.

Respond to the Weather

There are some weather conditions in which you should not be on a roof – heavy rain makes surfaces slippery and hazardous. Never be tempted to work in circumstances that could potentially be risky, as many people have learnt this lesson the hard way.

Consider going on a health and safety awareness training course before starting your first job. If you are a self-employed contractor, this is especially important.

Learn More

Construction Site Safety: How To Reduce Dangerous Slips and Falls

Worker walking on trackSlipping and tripping on construction sites is a major hazard; some 1,000 injuries sustained by site workers in an average year involve broken bones and dislocations. Obstacles, stray cabling, wet surfaces, uneven surfaces and changes in level are the main causes of incidents.

Slippery or wet surfaces

Wet – mop up or dry as far as possible and use clear warning signs.

Slippery – if possible, make safe by mopping up if a liquid and using warning signs. If a substance such as ice or mud, then use an appropriate ‘gripping medium’ such as grit or stones.

Much could be done to vastly reduce these risks. For example, the use of non-slip temporary surfaces such as those from Tufftrak Mats to cover slippery surfaces is one safety measure worth taking.

Uneven surfaces

A common risk on newer sites before roadways and paths have been constructed to level the ground up, these can be made safer by the creation of designated walkways, signage and good lighting.

Trailing cabling

Using cordless tools is a help, but where cabling has to be run then keeping them tidy, moved to one side away from foot and vehicular traffic, and perhaps raised and run well above ground are some measurers worth taking.

Level changes

Where an abrupt level change such as a step or ridge is in evidence. These can be made safer using ramps – failing this, clear warning signs and bright tape or paint on the leading edge is advisable.

Obstacles

Remove items likely to cause a hazard as soon as possible – a typical issue on sites when, for example, deliveries are made or machinery is left somewhere.

Site users, staff and contractors should be encouraged to look out for and advise when hazardous situations arise.

Learn More

Workplaces Need To Improve Fire Health and Safety

Office fireYou Can’t Be Too Safe

Businesses are bound by law to maintain the safety of their employees and any people who may visit their premises, but it’s fair to say many do the minimum required and, once done, it often gets put to one side. The thinking perhaps is that, being that they’ve ‘done’ the fire safety checks for another few months, all is well.

Fire and other aspects of safety should ideally be an ongoing concern of a business as things can soon change turning a low risk environment to a higher risk one.

For example, a heater moved into an office since the last fire checks were made back in the summer could suddenly present a fire risk – especially if it’s near flammable materials. Perhaps those bin bags full of old paper work from clearing a few filing cabinets not present last time fire safety checks were undertaken present a risk now?

Risk Assessment

Employers must undertake a fire risk assessment, but the important thing is to keep it up to date and use it as the foundation for fire safety. This goes hand in hand with general health and safety risk assessments, and ideally should be referred to frequently.

By getting into the habit of checking fire risks regularly, new hazards will be picked up on sooner.

Equipment

Many businesses ‘get by’ with the minimum of firefighting equipment and warning signs. Safety and risk reduction could be reduced considerably by doing more – for example by having more fire extinguishers and smoke alarms than are necessary.

Regarding signs, add more to warn against fire hazards and display fire exits signs, and keep abreast of new signage legislation.

General workplace equipment such as electrical items including computers and photocopiers – even the office kettle – can become a fire hazard. Overheating and frayed cabling presents a risk, so inspections such as PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) should be kept up to date. If no such inspections are currently in place then it’s worthwhile implementing them.

The Employee’s Role

Often overlooked, but employees should take an active part in fire safety measures. As they’re familiar with their specific work area, they should be able to spot risks as they develop – companies could do more to install a culture of ongoing vigilance amongst their employees.

Encouraging tidiness is a help; rather than letting hazardous items build up, such as stacks of paper or that heater hastily wheeled in to add a bit of extra warmth during a cold spell, ask your employees to monitor their workplace fire risks frequently.

Training is linked to fire safety; companies should review more regularly the training and safety procedures in place for those employees working in a hazardous area or with flammable materials. What are the latest safety procedures and are they being implemented?

Less Obvious Fire Risks

More thought could be given to materials and substances that can provide a fire risk over and above the obvious. Substances such as petrol, thinners and certain chemicals are obvious risks but what about less obvious ones such as dust, grease and packaging materials?

For example, large amounts of dust could prevent electrical equipment ventilating properly so causing a fire risk. These should come under the general risk assessment but make room for the ‘less obvious’ risks.

Doing A Little Extra

It’s tempting to do the minimum necessary when it comes to fire safety checks and monitoring; after all, there are many demands on the working day. That said, more businesses could add to their fire safety regime and make their workplace much less of a fire hazard.

Learn More