A case study of a risk assessment for general office cleaning
A commercial cleaning service took on a new contract to clean an office complex. Before sending cleaning staff to the offices, the manager of the cleaning service carried out a risk assessment using guidance provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
To identify the hazards, the cleaning service manager visited the office complex and walked through the areas where cleaning staff would be working, noting things that might pose potential risks. Following this, he consulted the health and safety Q15 representatives of the cleaning service about these risks, taking into account the needs of any particular staff members, such as whether they were pregnant or aged under 18.
In order to gather further information, he then had a meeting with the client company during which a number of issues were discussed. These included the client company’s own standard of Q16 housekeeping, such as the immediate clearing up of spills and keeping walkways clear, as well as the action to be taken if a Q17 fire broke out. He also established what facilities and equipment would be available to the cleaners, including the amount of Q18 storage space available, as well as the availability of sinks and taps, etc. and agreed on a method of Q19 reporting near-miss accidents and risks discovered by cleaners (e.g. damaged floor tiles).
Following the meeting, the manager created a risk assessment document. He wrote down who could be harmed by each risk or hazard identified and in what way, and he then described what controls, if any, were in existence to manage these hazards. The manager then compared these to the good practice guidance set out on the HSE’s Q20 website and identified any areas where improvement was needed.
The manager discussed the findings with the cleaning staff, making sure they understood the risks of the job and how these risks would be monitored. One cleaner, whose first language was not English, had difficulty understanding this, so the manager arranged for translation to be done by a bilingual cleaner from another team. Finally, to ensure that all the cleaning staff had access to a copy of the risk assessment, the manager pinned a copy in the Q21 cupboard where cleaning equipment was kept.