Employers’ main risk assessment duties under the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations are to:
■ Make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk to the health and safety of their staff, and others who may be affected.
■ Identify the preventative and protective measures needed (as far as is reasonably practicable).
■ Review the assessment if there is a reason to believe that it is no longer valid.
■ Keep a written record, where there are five or more employees, of the findings of the assessment and any groups of employees particularly at risk: for example, cleaning staff who work alone.
■ Have arrangement for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventative and protective measures.
■ Provide any health surveillance required.
■ Appoint ‘competent’ people to assist them.
■ Establish procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger.
■ Provide health and safety information, instruction and training for all employees.
■ Consult with safety representatives.
Any risk assessment must be wide-ranging and take into account the different types of tasks carried out by cleaners. This includes using, moving, lifting and carrying materials and equipment (such as vacuum cleaners, floor buffers, buckets, mops and rubbish bags); the chemicals used for cleaning and disinfecting; and any personal protective equipment supplied. The assessment should also take into account the layout of the work area, including the cleaning staff’s access to storage areas and to electrical power points when using electrical equipment such as vacuum cleaners.