Cleaning is the key to a safe and healthy workplace

23rd of April 2014 Article by Torsten Deutzmann
Cleaning is the key to a safe and healthy workplace

Torsten Deutzmann - strategic business unit director of Unger Professional Worldwide and managing director of Unger Europe - writes his latest exclusive blog for ECJ.

Workforce well-being is an issue that all responsible employers take seriously. Looking after workplaces, and the people that work in them, makes sense across the board: because healthier, happier people make more motivated and productive employees - helping to boost output and profits, while also improving customer service and increasing client satisfaction. Put like that, only the most foolhardy organisation would neglect to ensure that workplace well-being was not near the top of their agenda.

Health and safety is a phrase of which even more of us are aware. This can sometimes elicit an extremely negative response about ‘red tape' and rules. However, when you separate the two words out, you realise their importance to the wider issue of workplace well-being. Keeping employees, customers - and cleaning operatives - safe and healthy is paramount.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) states that. ‘Good safety and health is good business', and it goes on to list some of the benefits this can bring:

· Healthy workers are more productive and can produce at a higher quality
· Fewer work-related accidents and diseases lead to less absence. In turn, this results in lower costs and less disruption of production processes
· Equipment and a working environment that are optimised to the needs of the working process and that are well-maintained lead to high productivity, better quality, and less health and safety risks
· Reduction of injuries and illnesses means less damages and lower risks for liabilities.

Skilled and dedicated cleaning operatives, using equipment that harnesses the latest technology to make their jobs quicker, safer and more efficient, can greatly enhance the workplace in terms of welfare. A regime that keeps the environment clean, but is responsive enough to deal with unexpected spills or incidents, is a key factor in any on-going well-being campaign.

A grubby, smelly, neglected workplace does not inspire worker loyalty or encourage employees to go that extra mile. Appearances aside, an uncared for workplace can also be a breeding ground for germs, causing illness and staff absence; and poor maintenance is also a precursor to accidents such as slips, trips and falls. When looked at in this way, it becomes obvious that professional cleaning contractors provide an essential service, whose work can make a much wider contribution to the success of an organisation or company.

One good example of how cleaning operatives are providing better and safer services is the adaptation of outdoor window cleaning tools for use inside buildings. Indoor window cleaning systems, incorporating telescopic poles, allow customers to clean places that were previously out of reach, such as glass atria, escalators, conservatory roofs and elevators.

Ordinarily, this would require specialist cleaning and logistics to arrange - increasing financial outlay because of the high cost of hiring equipment such as scissor lifts, and causing disruption to the working day because areas have to be closed off while cleaning takes place. As building design has evolved, so cleaning tool manufacture has followed suit, making workplaces cleaner, healthier and safer.

In parallel, the health and wellbeing of cleaning operatives is just as important, and cleaning equipment has evolved along ergonomic lines to put less of a strain on workers. Tools are now designed to fit easier in the hand, items such as mops or sweepers can be adjusted to the height of the person using them, and equipment is lighter and more manoeuvrable than ever before.

These developments have improved the lives of cleaning operatives, which in turn has upgraded the cleaning services provided to workplaces, and this has, inevitably, enhanced the well-being of the employees who work there. So don't be too quick to dismiss ‘health and safety'.

Taken as separate entities they are essential to worker well-being, and are factors that will influence the development of cleaning equipment and practices for years to come - which can only improve the quality of life for us all.

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