Effective cleaning management systems need suitable cleaning methods, schedules, equipment, trained cleaners and reliable communication and consultation.
Assess the risk
While good cleaning reduces contamination, bad cleaning increases contamination.
Check your workplace for any of the signs that indicate a poor cleaning system:
- floors are not fully dry and can be accessed
- spills and contaminants are left unattended
- a build-up of cleaning product residues (reduces slip resistance)
- cleaning equipment and cords left across walkways
- cleaning is ad hoc, unplanned and reactive
- poor, inappropriate or dirty cleaning equipment used
- incorrect cleaning products and procedures.
Decide on control measures
There are a range of strategies that have been proven to control the risk of slips, trips and falls, while also leaving floors and other surfaces clean and free from contaminants. The best cleaning requires a combination of important elements, as listed below.
- leave a clean and dry surface, free from moisture or dry waste – e.g. 'clean-to-dry'
- do not leave a build-up of cleaning products
- maintain the slip resistant properties of the floor/surface (if non-slip flooring)
- are based on advice from the flooring supplier
- are tailored to the specific flooring and contaminants – i.e. type and concentration of chemicals etc. For example, the time detergent is on the floor has been shown to have a significant effect on cleanliness. It is also noted that flooring that is slip resistant can be cleaned to be as hygienic as other flooring.
- are systematic and well planned
- have routine daily cleaning conducted during quiet/slow periods
- include periodic deep/comprehensive cleaning
- provide a rapid/urgent response to spills
- include indoor and outdoor areas
- include customer/visitor areas
- accommodate for periods of bad weather.
- suited to the task, environment and the users
- don't spread the problem (e.g. paper-towel instead of wet mop for small spill, or 'spill-kit' materials for oil leaks, spill stations where resources are kept etc.)
- includes barriers and signs to keep people off any wet areas if 'clean-to-dry' is not possible.
Personnel responsible for cleaning:
- cleaners are trained, equipped and supervised to do routine cleaning
- all workers assist in spot cleaning/spills management
- supervisors are trained and able to oversee work practices
- workplace visitors and others encouraged to report hazards where appropriate.
Details regarding the correct cleaning system may be provided in a Safe Work Method Statement or other procedural guidance.
Cleaning methods to consider
The cleaning method you use will depend on a number of factors. This is best decided in consultation with the flooring and cleaning equipment suppliers based on the workplace's requirements. A combination of methods may be used across the workplace. The following table is from a review of cleaning options for health settings, and may be relevant to other similar settings.
Correct and timely floor cleaning is a major part of reducing slips. Cleaning using the wrong methods and/or wrong chemical solutions can make surfaces slippery and can reduce the slip-resistance of some flooring. For example polish can build up and some methods can leave excessive residues. Talk to your cleaning manager or contractor and/or flooring supplier to ensure that the cleaning methods are working well for all areas.
Effective systems also ensure that staff, contractors and others are aware of and follow their roles and responsibilities in slips and trips prevention.
As part of the risk assessment, check that:
- cleaning methods for all floors and paths are fully specified and recorded or updated
- cleaning contractors have been instructed on the required methods and standards
- cleaning is scheduled when there is minimum foot traffic in the area
- workers have been provided with training in the procedures for dealing with slip, trip and fall hazards
- accountability for floor quality and housekeeping is clearly specified and known by all staff
- supervisors have been adequately trained and are able to appropriately supervise work practices
- a reliable spot-cleaning system is in place and known by all staff.
If any of the above are not in place, add these to your Risk Control Plan for action.