Fire drills, training on fire risks and the testing of fire alarms often take place when cleaning staff are absent from the premises. Cleaners may therefore not be aware of the procedures to follow if a fire occurs.
Many cleaners are required to use electrical equipment such as vacuum cleaners on a regular basis. In some cases, the machines may be old, worn-out and inadequately maintained.
Electrical cord that trails across wet floors while cleaners are using the equipment is an additional risk. The use of circuit breakers should be considered to ensure the safety of staff in such conditions.
Employers are legally required to carry out regular testing and examination of electrical equipment under the Electricity Regulations 1989. In addition, under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, they must ensure that the work equipment provided is suitable and maintained in efficient working order and in good repair.
Cleaners should also be trained to identify defects in equipment and wiring. Where damage is identified, the equipment must not be used.