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Example risk assessment for cleaning large retail premises

Important reminder

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 (Retail) provide commercial cleaning services to businesses. They employ 100 cleaners, some full-time and others part-time. They have recently won a contract to clean all areas of a supermarket. 

Smith’s cleaners provide the supermarket with a 24-hour cleaning service, across three shifts: 6.00 am – 2.00 pm (three cleaners on site), 2.00 pm – 10.00 pm (three cleaners on site) and 10.00 pm - 6.00 am (ten cleaners on site). A supervisor is in charge of each shift.  If a regular cleaner is sick or on holiday, an agency worker is used. One member of staff has some learning disabilities, and can’t read or write.

The day shifts cover the cleaning of toilets, high-maintenance areas such as the butchery and bakery sections, general tidying and litter picking and clearing spillages. The night shift will undertake a full clean of car parks, entrances, machine cleaning of hard floors, offices etc.

The contracts manager did the risk assessment.

How was the risk assessment done?

The manager followed the guidance in Controlling the risks in the workplace.

  1. To identify the hazards, the manager:
    • looked at HSE’s website for free advice and guidance on controlling risks in the cleaning industry, on health and safety for disabled people and their employers and at Business Link for advice and guidance on employing temporary workers;
    • walked the areas where cleaning staff will be going, noting potential risks and taking HSE guidance into account;
    • talked to safety representatives and other staff, including the worker with learning disabilities, to learn from their experience and to take into account everyone’s needs;
    • talked to the supermarket managers and agreed issues such as:
      1. lines and frequency of communication between the cleaning company and the supermarket;
      2. facilities and equipment available to the cleaners, including the amount of storage space available, access to welfare facilities for staff etc;
      3. the system for reporting to the supermarket near-miss accidents and risks discovered by cleaners (such as damaged floor tiles) that can cause accidents in the supermarket;
      4. the security of cleaning equipment and substances, to ensure only trained cleaners can access and use them; and
      5. making sure that all cleaners know what they must do if there is a fire.
  2. The manager wrote down who could be harmed by the hazards and how.
  3. 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 in HSE’s publications and website. Where existing controls were not considered good enough, the manager wrote down what else needed to be done to control the risk.
  4. The manager discussed the findings of the risk assessment with the staff, making sure they understood the risks of the job and how these risks would be controlled and monitored. He also asked a supervisor to go through the risk assessment with the man with learning difficulties, to make sure he fully understood what it contained and what he had to do. He put a copy of the risk assessment up in the staff room for all staff to see and made it part of the induction process for new staff, including agency workers. Putting the risk assessment into practice, the manager decided to tackle the most important things first. He decided when actions would be done by, and who would do them. As each action was completed, it was ticked off the plan.
  5. The manager decided to review and update the risk assessment every year, or straightaway if there were major changes in the workplace – including in the use of equipment or chemicals.
Updated 2014-09-01