Cleaning sector subject to more inspections

15th of June 2022
Cleaning sector subject to more inspections

Special supervisory efforts carried out in Denmark during 2021 continue in 2022, reports Lotte Printz.

“A healthy working environment is the Alpha and Omega of our labour market,” the Danish Minister for Employment said at the end of 2020 when the Danish government earmarked an extra €13 million to make sure Denmark meets national working environment targets by 2030.

Funds of around €53.78 million to improve working environments were already allocated in 2019.
Reducing work-related accidents and exposure to hazardous substances at the workplace, maintaining a safe and healthy ergonomic working environment and a healthy psycho-social working environment were the four goals agreed by all social partners in the Danish labour market model - employers and workers organised in associations and unions.

Now these funds and agreements start to show in the cleaning sector. From February 2021 to the end of the year, the Danish Working Environment Authority (WEA) carried out almost 800 so-called announced inspection visits in this industry, with a special focus on ergonomics. After the inspections eight cleaning sector enterprises were sanctioned with improvement notices, ie, they were required to solve the problems detected immediately. Six others were either required to draw up action plans to solve any detected problems or sanctioned otherwise.

Heavy lifting and carrying were the main issues addressed and sanctioned. However, several companies also needed guidelines in working positions and movements so they do not cause undue strain or repetitive strain on the same parts of the employees’ bodies.

Inspections like these also come with a general guide advising the companies visited on how
to prevent problems and ergonomic strains from lifting or carrying heavy tools, waste or furniture or from bending or twisting for instance.

Most ergonomic problems can be prevented with good planning, proper instruction and by using aids, the WEA guidelines suggest. And WEA recommends that employees, among other things, switch between tasks and that aids such as shafts adjusted to fit the height of the individual employee are being used.

As well as floor washing machines, of course. But it is also highly
recommended that companies do follow-ups making sure instructions and techniques are being followed. All of which, of course, is to avoid physical burn-out or fatigue among cleaning sector employees.

2022 focus on chemicals

After last year’s supervisory efforts, WEA was of the firm impression that there’s great prevention potential in the cleaning sector in general, so inspections focusing on ergonomics are being continued in 2022.

In a 2018 health and working environment survey, employees raised concerns about exposure to organic dust and chemicals, long-term effects of, primarily skin conditions caused by wet or damp hands and the use of latex gloves. Concerns were supported by data on occupational diseases or conditions reported. As a result of these concerns and data, the 2022 supervisory efforts in the cleaning sector will also pay special attention to chemicals.

As a rule, inspections performed by WEA also look at whether the companies live up to the general working environment rules.


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