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Joy Gateley – Head of Advice.

Housekeeping in the Workplace

In a work setting, the word “housekeeping” means much more. Housekeeping is crucial to safe workplaces. It can help prevent injuries and improve productivity and morale, as well as make a good first impression on visitors.

From traditional offices to industrial workplaces, including factories, warehouses and manufacturing plants that present special challenges such as hazardous materials, combustible materials.

All workplace safety should incorporate housekeeping, and every worker should play a part. In addition, housekeeping should have management’s commitment, so workers realise its importance.  Slips, trips and falls, all workplaces should be “kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition”. includes passageways, storerooms and service rooms. Floors should be clean and dry. Drainage should be present where “wet processes are used.”

Employers should select adequate flooring (e.g., cement, ceramic tile or another material), as different types of flooring hold up better under certain conditions, develop and implement housekeeping procedures using appropriate cleaners.“Things like oils and grease – if you don’t use the right kind of cleaning protocols, you’ll just spread slipperiness around rather than getting it up and off the floor.

To help prevent slip, trip and fall incidents:
• Report and clean up spills and leaks;
• Keep aisles and exits clear of items;
• Consider installing mirrors and warning signs to help with blind spots;
• Replace worn, ripped or damage flooring.
• Consider installing anti-slip flooring in areas that can’t always be cleaned.
• Use drip pans and guards where appropriate and;
• In addition, provide mats, platforms or “other dry standing places”.

Every workplace should be free of projecting nails, splinters, holes and loose boards. Employers should audit for trip hazards. A cluttered workplace can lead to ergonomics issues and possible injuries because workers have less space to move. When an area is cluttered, you’re not going to have as much room to set up your workstation like you should and move around. You’re going to be twisting your body rather than moving your whole body.

Keep aisles, stairways, emergency exits, electrical panels and doors clear of clutter, and purge untidy areas. Empty trash receptacles before they overflow.

Eliminate fire hazards

Unnecessary combustible materials, employers are responsible for ensuring the work area is kept clear of accumulating waste. Keep combustible materials in the work area only in amounts needed for the job. When they are not needed, move them to an assigned safe storage area.

Keep passageways and fire doors free of obstructions. Stairwell doors should be kept closed. Do not store items in stairwells. Keep materials away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers and sprinkler controls.

All workers should participate in housekeeping, especially in terms of keeping their own work areas tidy, reporting safety hazards and cleaning up spills, if possible.

Every worker does have a role in housekeeping, if they see something is becoming a problem, they need to report it.

Housekeeping should be more than a one-time initiative – it should continue through monitoring and auditing. Keep records, maintain a regular walk through inspection schedule, report hazards and train employees to help sustain housekeeping.

Housekeeping issues are very common. They can be easy to fix.

The Avensure Health & Safety team are happy to talk you through the health and safety procedures businesses need to have in place and how to start the process, so please contact us if you want to discuss your health and safety needs in more detail.

Please quote your Client Account Number on all correspondence and telephone calls. 24-hour client advice line: 0330 100 8704

Prosecution

Swimming school fined after child suffers chemical burns

A three-year-old child suffered severe burns after sitting in a puddle of corrosive cleaning fluid while learning to swim, a court has been told.

The company, which operates a purpose-built teaching pool in Colchester, pleaded guilty at the Magistrates’ Court to breaching three health and safety offences under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as well as a failure to comply with two improvement notices, following the poolside incident in May 2018.

The District Judge heard how the company failed to properly assess the pool water treatment and cleaning chemicals used at the site and failed to supervise the work of contractors.

The case was brought by Colchester Borough Council, following an investigation by its health and safety officers.

Unknown quantity

The court was told how the child had been attending a swimming class and was sat by the side of the pool waiting for their lesson to start. They began to complain their leg was hurting. The child was taken to hospital by their mother, where medics confirmed they had first- and second-degree burns. The mother also reported pink bleach marks on her clothing where she had carried their child.

The company admitted a contractor had undertaken maintenance work earlier in the day using the company’s own supply of Sodium Hypochlorite to hand-dose the pool water – tipping an unknown quantity from a 20-litre container into each end of the pool. It was alleged a small amount of the chemical had spilt onto the side of the pool where the child later sat.

In July 2018, council officers served the company two improvement notices for its lack of COSHH assessments and no safety system for hand-dosing the pool with water treatment chemicals.

Although the company later provided several policy documents, they were received after the expiry of the improvement notices, and neither the COSHH assessments nor the hand dosing procedure submitted were deemed suitable enough by the investigator to demonstrate compliance with the improvement notices.

A Councillor, who is Portfolio Holder for Communities, Wellbeing and Public Safety, said: “Health and safety regulations exist for good reason, and businesses and employers have a responsibility to protect their staff and customers’ safety and welfare. As a result of failures to implement simple procedures to protect the public from exposure to hazardous substances, a vulnerable child was harmed.”

“The public should be reassured that we take a very dim view of any business that fails to put health and safety first and whose actions lead to personal injury. We will always investigate any breaches of health and safety regulations reported to us and where they meet the required legal threshold, those found to be breaking the law will be prosecuted.”

The Judge fined the company £10,500 and ordered it to pay Colchester Borough Council £2,350 costs and a £170 victim surcharge – to be paid in four monthly instalments.