How to Ensure Chemical Safety in the Hospitality Sector
Updated: May 4
If you work in the hospitality business you'll know that the safety of your guests, and the cleanliness of your hotel is vitally important.
Common cleaning products are often disregarded as low risk but these products are still chemicals and they're extremely bad for human health, if handled or stored incorrectly.
Even the most common products are, or have, chemicals in them that can cause respiratory problems, skin and eye irritation and chemical burns. If they happen to be ingested, the problems get much, much worse.
In fact, research over the years suggests that up to a quarter of all UK workers are exposed to some form of hazardous substance while in the workplace, and thousands of those are diagnosed with health issues that can be traced to exposure to those substances. Every year.
Making your hotel chemical safe
The very first thing you should do is make sure you and all of your staff are properly COSHH trained to handle the chemicals they need to use.
COSHH is a statutory body of regulations in the United Kingdom, that places certain requirements on businesses to ensure that employees and visitors are protected from hazardous substances.
Taking COSHH training will teach you and your employees how to properly identify and assess the risks that come with many hazards, including the common cleaning products and seemingly innocuous dust.
All hazardous substances are required to include certain documents on the safe use, handling and storage of these chemicals and COSHH training will teach you how to create and use the information provided on them.
This training will not only safeguard your hotel and guests, but also you and your employees.
Keep your chemicals behind locked doors
How and where you store your chemicals is vitally important.
Generally, chemical storage rooms should be spacious, ventilated and sufficiently well-lit. Chemicals should also be stored well away from guests or food preparation areas. Even away from the items that may be used near food preparation.
However, to be able to safely store chemicals there are certain things that must be done beforehand.
These include risk and COSHH assessments which lead to the creation of a safety data sheet which will then dictate how to properly store your chemicals.
It's important to make sure that your chemical containers are undamaged and closed properly, that your shelving is strong, undamaged and sturdy and that there is enough space between them that there is very little risk of unsettling more than the container you need.
If you find damaged containers or shelving you need to report it and remove it safely, as soon as possible. While cleaning and removing the hazard you need to ensure everyone in the vicinity is aware of the hazard and is directed away or around it via the proper control measure.
Signage and labeling should be obvious
One of the easiest way to identify a hazard is to have a big, obnoxious sign placed right in front of you. You see the hazard danger warning and immediately know to avoid it.
Your chemical storage areas should be marked so that they are obvious enough to your guests that they know to stay away from there.
The chemicals you store will also come with specific labels and danger warnings that are designed to provide enough information in a short glance that the hazard is immediately recognisable.
When storing your chemicals, ensure that these warning labels are pointing out front where they are easily visible. This is especially important to prevent mixing or handling mishaps.
Equip your employees with the right equipment
The health and safety of guests and employees is usually the top priority of a hotel management team and they will continue to assess the hazards in an ongoing process to make sure all current and new risks are met, and all control measures are maintained or replaced where needed.
Personal protective equipment is one of those control measures and is usually the last line of defence. Make sure you are providing it and that your employees are using it.
PPE is enforced when there is no other possible way to prevent injury. I have heard many excuses as to why workers don't want to wear their PPE; "It's too hot, it's too heavy, it's in the way and slowing me down." Granted, they're right. It's bulky and heavy. But it's better than receiving a life-changing chemical burn or lungful of fumes, yeah?
If you want to make ensure your hospitality business is properly chemical safe and COSHH compliant you can take the new COSHH Risk Assessor Certification™. I teach this course completely free and you will learn how to properly identify and controls risks.