Risk Assessment Policy

  1. Risk Assessment means identifying the hazards in the workplace and assessing the likelihood that these hazards will cause harm to employees and others.
  2. It is part of the systematic approach that employers are now required by law to adopt in order to manage health and safety effectively. It helps spot the prevention or control measures needed to protect workers and the public from harm.
  3. Employers are obliged by law to ensure that all aspects of all jobs have been vetted for hazards and that “reasonably practicable” measures have been taken to ensure that workers are not put at risk. But remember, no one knows the problems of a job better than the worker who has to do it.
  4. If risk assessments are done correctly they can mean that workers are properly informed about their working conditions, the risk and how to avoid them.
  5. Five Steps to Risk Assessment
    1. Look for and list the hazards
    2. Decide who might be harmed and how
    3. Evaluate the risks arising from the hazards and decide whether existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done.
    4. Record the findings
    5. Review the assessment from time to time and revise it if necessary
  6. A Hazard is anything that may cause harm such as, electricity, fire, chemicals, an open drawer, working from ladder, etc
    1. What are the Hazards in your workplace?
      1. Fire
      2. Electricity
      3. Noise
      4. Slips, trips and falls
      5. Machinery
      6. Awkward/fixed postures
      7. Display screen equipment
      8. Chemicals-liquids, dusts, mists, fumes, gases
      9. Paints
      10. Stress
      11. Bullying
      12. Violence
      13. Work overload
      14. Long hours
    2. 6.2 The Risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.
    3. 6.3 Common hazards, risks and health outcome include:
      1. risks of slips, trips and falls, particularly during “wet work”;
      2. exposure to dangerous ingredients in cleaning materials;
      3. exposure to hazardous substances being cleaned, which can include biological hazards such as moulds or human wastes;
      4. psychosocial issues including work related stress, violence and bullying;
      5. risk of musculoskeletal disorders;
      6. risks, such us electric shock, from work equipment
    4. Workplace environment factors with working as a cleaner and their possible influence on health:
    5. Factors likely to cause accidents
      1. ladders possibility of an injury resulting from falling from height
      2. Slippery and uneven surfaces-a possibility of injuries caused by falling, slipping or stumbling
      3. sharp tools, scrap metal, broken glass-possibility of injuries caused by a prick, cut or puncture.
    6. Physical agents
      1. excessive noise from cleaning machines- a possibility of hearing impairment. Chemical agents and dusts
      2. chlorine in cleaning and washing preparations (usually sodium hypochlorite)- possibility of poisoning.
      3. widely used chemical substances (solvents, cleaning, rinsing, and disinfecting agents) may cause skin and eye irritations as well as irritations of nasal and throat mucous membranes.
    7. Biological agents
      1. fungi allergens contained in dust- may cause allergies and pneumonia with asthmatic symptoms.
      2. rodent excrement containing micro- organisms- possibility of infection with contagious diseases.
      3. ergonomic psychosocial
  7. There are many examples within the cleaning industry of accidents involving working at height, for example: whilst working on stepladders, overstretching from ladders whilst window cleaning, standing on benches or chairs to clean high surfaces. With a little planning and by using competent people (who have the right experience and training) and the right equipment, these accidents could have been avoided.
    1. Work at Height Regulations 2005 (as amended) place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person that controls the work of others (for example facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height).
    2. As part of the Regulations, duty holders must ensure:
      1. all work at height is properly planned and organised;
      2. those involved in work at height are competent;
      3. the risks from work at height are assessed and appropriate work equipment is selected and used;
      4. the risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled; and
      5. equipment for work at height is properly inspected and maintained.
    3. There is a simple hierarchy for managing and selecting equipment for work at height. Duty holders must:
      1. avoid work at height where they can;
      2. use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where they cannot avoid working at height; and
      3. where they cannot eliminate the risk of a fall, use work equipment or other measures to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall should one occur.
  8. Cleaners’ work is associated with considerable physical effort; the job is often done in a forced posture (bending, kneeling) and often requires repetitive actions (e.g. swabbing floors) which may cause musculoskeletal disorders
    1. The process of cleaning as mentioned above can create slips, trips hazards for those entering the area being cleaned, both you and your clients; for example smooth floors left damp by a mop are likely to be extremely slippery and trailing wires from a vacuum or iron can present hazards. Stop pedestrian access to smooth wet floors by using barriers, locking doors, or cleaning in sections.
    2. Top tips for floor cleaning:
      1. Use the right amount of the right cleaning product
      2. Detergent needs time to work on greasy floors
      3. Cleaning equipment will only be effective if it is well maintained
      4. A dry mop or squeegee will reduce floor-drying time but whilst the floor is damp there will be a slip risk.
      5. A well-wrung mop will leave a thin film of water sufficient enough to create a slip risk on a smooth floor.
      6. Spot clean where possible.
    3. How people act and behave in their work environment can also affect slips and trips.
  9. Individual behaviour:
    1. A positive attitude toward health and safety, a “See it, sort it!” mentality can reduce the risk of slip and trips accidents e.g. dealing with a spillage, instead of waiting for someone else to deal with it.
    2. What footwear is worn can also make a difference e.g. wearing high heels at work will make you more vulnerable to a slip.
    3. Things that prevent you from seeing or thinking about where you are going can also increase the risk of accidents e.g. rushing about, carrying large objects.
    4. Becoming distracted whilst walking e.g. using a mobile phone
  10. Hazards of cleaning products
    1. Always read the warning labels on products and follow the instructions for use very carefully to avoid any major health risks.
    2. Many cleaning products are corrosive which means they can cause serious burns if they make contact with your skin or eyes. Vapours and gases released by sprays and other cleaners are known to cause asthma as well as other upper respiratory irritation and infections especially in children and the elderly
    3. Because of all the major health hazards related to the chemicals used in common cleaning products care should be taken whenever they are in use. Making sure that the house is properly ventilated during and after the use of a chemical cleaner will help clear out some of the toxic pollution that could build up in the home. Always use a facemask and gloves when cleaning with a hazardous cleaner. All pets and children should be removed from the area that the cleaner is being used in until all traces of the cleaner itself are gone.
  11. Steps to risk assessment
    1. Appoint “competent people” such us your customer or the management
    2. Identify hazards
    3. Identify the harm that could arise from the hazards
    4. Identify those at risk
    5. Evaluate the likelihood of the harm occurring
    6. Evaluate the effectiveness of the control measures
    7. Record the assessments
    8. Monitor the effectiveness of control measures
  12. From risk assessment to risk prevention
    1. The purpose of the risk assessment is to enable the employer to identify the preventive and protective measures needed- and then to take them. So risk assessment should be seen as just the first step in deciding a programme of action, identifying the problems and setting out a clear timetable for remedying them.
    2. The working conditions and control measures in the cleaning sector may be the responsibility of more than one employer (the service provider and its various clients)
    3. Employers have a legal obligation to protect the health and safety of their workforce.
    4. The employer must evaluate the risks for safety and health within the workplace(and then improve the standards of safety and health for all workers (and any others) who may be harmed. If employees of two employers work together, the employers must coordinate the work.
    5. A good risk assessment should, therefore, form the basis for the selection of work equipment and cleaning detergents, personal protective measures, the training of the workforce and the organisation of the work in collaboration with the owner or operator of the premises to be cleaned. It should cover all standard operations and it should reflect how the work is carried out. To make sure that all aspects of the job are considered, the workers should be involved in the risk assessment process.
  13. Workers
    1. You are an important part of the management system of the organisation. Pass on your experience, improve communication channels and enhance your skills by attending qualification courses in technical, health and safety aspects as well as language issues.
    2. Take part in risk assessment, discuss the necessary preventive methods and apply the measures decided upon.