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Cleaners

Cleaners often work alone and after usual daytime business hours. They may work at different workplaces, and if they are contractors, at workplaces owned by someone other than their employer.

PCBU responsibilities

If you’re a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), you must manage the risks to health and safety of your workers. This includes by:

  • checking the workplace regularly for anything that may harm workers and fixing any problems as soon as possible
  • providing workers with the information, instruction and training they need to do their job
  • talking to workers or to their health and safety representatives about health and safety issues.

Person with management or control of the workplace (also a PCBU) responsibilities

With contract cleaning, the employer may not be the owner or the person responsible for the workplace. So there may well be hazards in the workplace that the employer (the holder of the cleaning contract) has no control over.

If you’re the person who is in control of the workplace, it’s important to know any hazards that may affect the health and safety of workers. You must also inform contractors and workers of known hazards, and of any site-specific safety rules and what to do in an emergency.

Common hazards and possible solutions

For full details of these hazards and possible solutions, see Resources and solutions below.

Chemicals

The chemicals and substances that cleaners use could cause skin irritation, poisoning, burns, occupational asthma, and other respiratory conditions/illnesses. Adverse conditions can happen from the individual or combined use of chemicals.

Solutions and safe work procedures include:

  • ensuring all chemicals are correctly labelled and have a safety data sheet readily available for them
  • providing training in how to use the chemicals
  • using personal protective equipment at all times.

Electrical hazards

These hazards include damaged electrical cords on vacuum cleaners, floor polishers and other equipment. They could cause electric shocks, burns and possibly death.

Solutions include:

  • getting a licensed electrical contractor to fix damaged or faulty cords
  • inspecting and maintaining equipment regularly.

Slips, trips and falls

These hazards include walking on slippery floors after mopping, and carrying equipment on stairs. They can result in fractures, sprains and significant musculoskeletal injuries.

Solutions and safe work procedures include:

  • using barricades/signage to separate people from wet areas
  • providing/wearing non-slip footwear
  • providing a set of essential equipment on different levels so workers do not need to carry it up stairs.

Hazardous manual tasks

These hazardous tasks include lifting heavy cartons or equipment, and doing work in awkward positions. They could result in significant musculoskeletal injuries including back injuries and muscle strain.

Solutions and safe work procedures include:

  • using machines or trolleys to lift and move heavy items
  • buying products in smaller packages that are safer to handle.

Sharp objects

These hazards include sharps hidden in bins. They could lead to cuts and infections, including significant ones like hepatitis B, C and HIV.

Solutions and safe work procedures include:

  • using garbage bags made of tough canvas instead of plastic
  • carrying all plastic garbage bags in trolleys, not by hand.

Resources and solutions

Hazardous chemicals safety

Hazardous manual tasks

Managing electrical risks in the workplace code of practice

Slips, trips and falls

Updated: 29th October 2019