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Putting safety at the heart of cleaning

23 April 2015

Lee Baker, media and communications manager for the British Cleaning Council, explains how the Council is working to make cleaning and maintenance a safer and healthier industry for all

Companies have a duty of care for all staff in their workforce. Of course, it’s in everyone’s best interest to make working environments as safe as possible, but it’s also important to take into account the welfare of employees, and invest in their training and equipment. 


Health and safety is at the heart of everything the BCC does, and where possible, we like to support new ideas and innovations with our grants program. Last year we were able to do just that with a grant to the Federation of Window Cleaners (FoWC).

The FoWC applied for a BCC grant so they could develop a new safety standard aimed solely at window cleaners. The SAM Scheme (Safety Accredited Member) is already being recognised by local authorities and other entities as a necessity for window cleaners, and some now even require it before procuring services.


Daytime cleaning

Another area the BCC has been campaigning for is daytime cleaning, and again, we have offered support and help where we can to raise standards and change attitudes.

The concept of daytime cleaning has been around for many years, but facilities managers were reluctant to move ahead with it, as they believed it could potentially be hazardous for the building’s occupants. There were concerns, for instance, about people slipping on wet floors, tripping over electric cables, or breathing in toxic chemicals.

But the cleaning industry has been able to tackle these issues and change attitudes with innovations like cordless vacuums, the development of floor scrubbers and driers that leave no damp or residue on floors, as well as the introduction of ‘green cleaning.’ 

At the same time there has also been massive investment in staff training so operatives use the correct products for the job they’re doing, dress appropriately and adhere to the risk assessments and health and safety requirements of the building.


New regulations

But the drive for safer working environments never stands still in a sector like cleaning, and there’s another huge change coming over the horizon with the COSHH regulations (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) becoming law this June.

The changes have come from the Europe Parliament’s Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation legislation of 2009 (CLP). CLP is also introducing major changes to the way cleaning chemicals are manufactured  in new guidelines called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals). These are to be implemented in stages till they become law in 2018. Former British Cleaning Council chairman Mark Woodhead, and sales director at Selden Research, explains more opposite.

Attitudes to health and safety and staff well-being are changing all the time, and we, as an industry, have to do our best to stay ahead of the curve. To this end the BCC is currently looking for new ideas that can make the industry safer, and has a number of grants available to get these projects off the ground. The cleaning industry is a lot safer than it was, but it is a never ending journey, and we must constantly strive to make it safer still.