Example risk assessment for general office cleaning
This example risk assessment shows the kind
of approach a small business might take. It can
be used as a guide to think through some of the
hazards in your business and the steps you need to
take to control the risks. Please note that it is not a
generic risk assessment that you can just put your
company name on and adopt wholesale without any thought. This would not satisfy the law - and would not be effective in protecting people.
Every business is different - you need to think through the hazards and controls required in your business for yourself.
Setting the scene
Smith’s Cleaners provide commercial cleaning services to businesses, and employ 20 part-time cleaners. They recently won a contract to clean two floors of an office complex in a city centre, Monday to Friday. Three cleaners, working every day from 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm, machine clean hard floors in the reception, kitchen and toilet areas and generally clean the offices. If a regular cleaner is sick or on holiday, a temporary worker from an agency is used. The offices have 24-hour security cover.
The contracts manager did the risk assessment.
How was the risk assessment done?
The manager followed the guidance in HSE’s Five steps to risk assessment.
- To identify the hazards, the manager:
- looked at HSE’s website for free health and safety advice and guidance for the cleaning industry;
- walked the areas where cleaning staff will be working, noting things that may pose potential risks and taking HSE guidance into account;
- talked to workplace health and safety representatives and cleaning staff about the risks, taking into account the needs of any particular staff members, such as whether they are pregnant or aged under 18;
- talked to the client company and agreed issues such as:
- lines and frequency of communication between the cleaning company and the client company;
- the client company’s own standard of housekeeping, eg clear walkways, spills cleared up immediately etc;
- facilities and equipment available to the cleaners, including the amount of storage space available, location of sinks and taps etc;
- the system for reporting near-miss accidents and risks discovered by cleaners, eg damaged floor tiles, that can cause accidents in the client company;
- the security of cleaning equipment and substances, to ensure only trained cleaners can access and use them; and
- making sure that all cleaners know what they must do if there is a fire.
- The manager wrote down who would be harmed by the hazards and how.
- For each hazard, the manager wrote down what controls, if any, were in place to manage these hazards. The manager then compared these controls to the good practice guidance set out on HSE’s website. Where existing controls were not considered good enough, the manager wrote down what else needed to be done to control or eliminate the risk.
- The manager discussed the findings with the staff cleaning those offices, making sure they understood the risks of the job and how these risks would be controlled and monitored. One cleaner, whose first language was not English, had difficulty understanding this, so the manager arranged for a bi-lingual cleaner from another team to translate. The manager pinned a copy of the risk assessment in the cleaning cupboard for all staff to see. When putting the risk assessment into practice, the manager decided to prioritise and tackle the most important things first. This included identifying when the actions should be done and who would do them. As each action was completed, they were ticked off the plan.
- The manager decided to review and update the risk assessment every year, or straightaway if major changes happened in the workplace – including changes in the use of equipment or chemicals.