COSHH Risk Assessment for the Cleaning Industry
Updated: Sep 21, 2022
As a cleaning company, it goes without saying that you use substances that are hazardous to health all the time.
It's imperative then that you do everything you can to ensure your employees, and anyone else in the vicinity is protected from the chemicals you are using.
Using the information you will find on the substances' safety data sheet, and information you gather yourself about the area you will be working in, you must carry out a COSHH risk assessment.
It is not enough to simply read the safety data sheet and assume you know everything that could happen.
Each area you clean will be different. There will be different hazards in different places and you need to properly assess each activity your company will undertake to properly protect your employees.
Conducting a full COSHH assessment for every task will help you to identify the risks associated with using a particular chemical in each area you will be cleaning.
Whether it's a slip and trip hazard or an enclosed space hazard, your COSHH assessment will identify it.
Also, bear in mind that you need to ensure your chemicals are safe from the moment they are delivered to you, up until the moment you dispose of them.
Any risk associated with the delivery, storage, usage, or disposal should be assessed before a substance can be safely stored or used:
Delivery: Assess the area the delivery will be made, how it will be removed from the delivery vehicle and how your employees will handle it before it goes to storage.
Storage: Assess the storage area to ensure that the environment is safe for the storage of particular substances. Certain substance will require separate storage areas and special containers to ensure they're stored safely. Check their safety data sheets and assess each storage area.
Usage: Your COSHH risk assessment will identify the control measures you need to implement to protect your employee's health, ensuring the hazardous substance is used in as safe a manner as possible.
Disposal: As well as the information regarding disposal contained on the safety data sheet, an assessment of the disposal storage area is very important. The substances will sit for a period of time and your assessment will highlight any problems you might have with the disposal of a substance. Certain substances will require special disposal containers to ensure they remain safe while waiting for collection.
The steps to a correct and complaint COSHH risk assessment are as follows:
Identify any hazardous substances To begin your COSHH risk assessment you will need to identify which hazardous substances you will be using for the work. Again, checking the COSHH data sheet and products label is important. Now move around the area you will be cleaning and identify anything that might present a risk as you clean the area with chemicals. For instance, cleaning a floor with a large mop covered in a cleaning chemical will create splashes when the direction of the mop is changed at speed, or where it meets a corner.
Identifying who is exposed to the risk, and how: As a cleaning company, this will be quite straightforward. You will know who you have assigned to clean each area, but you need to identify how each person will be exposed to the chemicals you use. Bearing in mind the routes-to-entry a hazardous substance can take into the body. You should also be aware of people who are not a part of your staff, but who many still be exposed to the risks your cleaning chemicals present. How long will they, and your employees, be exposed to the risks?
Evaluate the risks identified and implement the control measures Once you complete identifying the risk presented by your work and the hazardous substances, who will be exposed and how it threatens their health you need to plan how to prevent the exposure. Some control measures are simple, while others are can be large and complex. As a cleaning company, it's likely your controls will be fairly simple. Substituting the chemical for a safer alternative may be all that is required for some work, but others will require that you erect barriers around the area, hand out PPE and ensure that it is properly used.
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