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Meeting your responsibilities for keeping staff safe

In every household there are cleaning chemicals being used on a daily basis, but what precautions have you taken to ensure that your domestic and/or household staff know the appropriate procedures for safe use?

It is a fact that we have all become so used to having cleaning materials in the home that it is easy to forget that there are always risks attached to their use.

Your staff will be using such materials on a regular basis. But no matter how normal this procedure, you should never forget that many cleaning products in the home, garage or shed are potentially dangerous and should be treated accordingly.

In some instances that risk maybe high, in others low, in some very visible, in others less obvious. However, as an employer you have a responsibility to ensure you are not exposing employees to unnecessary risks.

The issue was recently brought under the spotlight when a company’s health and safety advisor failed to assess and manage risks from handling materials which led to an employee contracting allergic contact dermatitis.

Even if you employ just one member of staff, you should still assess such risks and take care to ensure that member of staff is made aware of safe working procedures.

So how can you keep your domestic/household staff safe?

The simplest thing you can do, is to create an easy to use guide for your staff to follow. To make life easier, below are some sensible recommendations from both the UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive and ourselves.  It is a good idea to print something like this out, hand it to your staff member and obtain a dated signature as evidence that they have received this.

Suggested wording:

For your own safety and well being, please follow these guidelines for safe working practice.

1) Always read the instructions for use on containers and packets of cleaning and other chemicals before use and ensure you understand them. If in doubt seek advice.

2) Wear appropriate clothing, chemical resistant rubber gloves, perhaps a plastic apron protecting the chest and lower body areas, appropriate shoes (sandals and no socks will not protect you from a cleaning product spillage).

3) Ensure you have appropriate cleaning up materials with you in case of spillage.

4) Ensure all chemicals are properly stored.

5) Do not mix chemicals in the thought that you might enhance their effectiveness (THIS CAN BE LETHAL)It does not take long to create this guide and pass it on to your staff and you will all be better protected.

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