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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Cleaning safely at work is more than a quick wipe!

Maralyn Kastel - Friday, August 16, 2013

When discussing cleaning safety, most people immediately think of slips and falls from wet floors. While this is a leading cause of injury, there is much more to cleaning safety than just preventing slips and falls. This is especially true when you look at industrial and manufacturing businesses.  

Cleaning in these and many service businesses is not just a simple matter of wiping the counters and cleaning windows. It often involves cleaning large and potentially dangerous equipment as well as using strong and hazardous chemicals.  Because of this it is important that all workers are aware of the hazards involved in cleaning in your workplace and be thoroughly familiar with the up to date safe work methods, PPE and safety data sheets.  

Hazardous chemicals
Many industries need to use hazardous chemicals in order to clean equipment properly. Workers need to be familiar with the chemicals; what hazards they present and what to do in case of spills or accidently splashes on clothes or eyes. They will also need to know what chemicals can be safely mixed and how to do it. They must be familiar with the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) which provides the information on the hazards as well as how to best protect against them and what to do if it goes wrong. Safety Data Sheets need to be stored where workers can easily access them for quick reference in case of emergencies.

Personal Protective Equipment
Having the correct personal protective equipment and knowing how to use it is required so that workers’ exposure to hazards is minimised. PPE can include protective goggles, gloves, rubber boots and aprons or respirators and the equipment needed for working in confined spaces depending on the job task.

Cleaning in a confined space
If cleaning is in a confined space, such as a flour silo, then a risk assessment is required, and workers must be trained in confined space work.  Follow through on this with confined space entry permits, specific job task training, correct PPE including respirators, using a spotter, locking out all equipment and work method statements

Isolation, lock-out, tag-out
It is also important to know the correct isolation, lock out, tag out procedures with all cleaning equipment.   Anything that has a moving part can crush fingers and hands, or more.  Just turning the equipment off is not safe enough.  It needs to be turned off, isolated, and then locked out to make sure that someone does not inadvertently turn it back on while you are cleaning.  

Cleaning is an important and critical part of just about every business. Make sure that regular toolbox talks are held with workers and that up to date information and training is provided.  This will help meet your compliance duties under the Work Health & Safety legislation.

Contact us to learn more about cleaning safety as well as other workplace safety issues.  

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