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Cleaning and Hygiene

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 19 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Cleaning Hygiene Health Safety Executive

Cleaning and hygiene are vital for ensuring occupational health and well-being. Sanitary conditions must be maintained at all times both for employees and members of the public. From a public perspective, cleaning and hygiene are obviously particularly important in the catering sector. Regardless of the type of business concerned, however, the preventing contamination of materials and goods (particularly food) is crucial.

Legal Responsibilities

There are a number of pieces of legislation concerning cleaning and hygiene in the workplace. This was originally particularly concerned with factory sanitation in order to combat unsatisfactory working conditions after the Industrial Revolution, but has since been extended to encompass all sectors of employment. This cause was furthered significantly by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations. Sections of these Regulations stipulate that sufficient cleanliness is required in every workplace. This includes fixtures and fittings; walls and ceilings; and furniture. Furthermore, it is stressed that waste materials must be separated from non-waste materials, and that they should be removed regularly.

Health and Safety Plans

Accident avoidance and the maintenance of occupational health rely in great partly on the establishment and effective management of a cleaning schedule. The first step to developing a plan and schedule for maintaining sanitary premises is an initial survey, which should identify potentially unsanitary areas. These areas should be tackled individually in the plan, which should then be reviewed regularly. Annual reviews are generally sufficient, but more frequent investigations may be necessary if sanitation is a continued problem.

The plan itself must follow a predetermined system. It should be displayed as a table, including seven different column headings. The first column should outline the object or area that is to be cleaned, which should be followed by its location. The third column should stipulate whose responsibility it is to clean this item. After that, the remaining columns should explain the equipment that the cleaner is expected to use, such as a vacuum cleaner; any additional materials such as detergent; the method that should be used (this may be self-evident, for example in the case of vacuuming the floor. In some cases, however, more detailed instructions should be given); and any special precautions that the cleaner should take, such as ensuring that related electrical appliances are unplugged from the mains.

It is vital that the management of the organisation in question is clear with regard to where the responsibility lies for actually carrying out the instructions contained in the plan. Staff who take responsibility must be sufficiently trained for the job; this also relates to safe place strategies, which are covered in more detail elsewhere in this section. Furthermore, regular inspections are required in order to ensure that the cleaning regime is being followed, and that it is sufficiently rigorous to produce sanitary conditions.

It should be remembered that the Health and Safety Executive (the body that enforces health and safety law) are entitle to make on-the-spot inspections, unannounced, at any time. On some occasions they will choose to give notice, but they are not obliged to do so. As such, aside from the moral obligations to maintain sanitary conditions in the workplace, there is also an incentive to ensure that sufficient cleaning and hygiene standards are always met.

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