Safe products, healthy bodies

23rd of June 2022
Safe products, healthy bodies

Christian Bouzols in France tells us about a cleaning company that’s been prioritising safety for its staff.

Launching a cleaning company using only green products back in 2009 was far from a safe bet. Omar Akaski had to use all his skills of persuasion to convince his first clients that bleach type products were not useful for sanitising tasks and as efficient solutions. He also had to convince his own workers.

“More experienced workers, those with some experience in the cleaning sector, are always the most sceptical,” explains Aurélie Mayeur, his wife and co-director of Verseau Nettoyage. “But it didn’t take long for us to get positive feedback from our own people regarding the efficiency of these products, whose first virtue was to be unaggressive in terms of smell and burns.”

Avoiding chemical exposure

Making sure clients are offered a save environment begins with not exposing cleaners to chemicals. There were only a few green cleaning products on the market when Verseau Nettoyage was launched. Today, Omar Akasbi and his wife cautiously contemplate the large number of labels and the huge choice of products. They see it as vital to train their workers on the proper use of products and to observe user instructions.

“It’s important to train our staff on the products, to make sure they know how to read the labels and don’t use them too intensively,” explains Aurélie Mayers. Before starting his own business. Omar Akasbi had worked as a cleaner himself and taken interim responsibilities in the field of industrial cleaning. He knows well how hard these jobs can be and is now making very sure the right products and equipment, which need to be both appropriate and comfortable, are used by his workers.

Making life easier

Last January, his whole team took a two-day training course entitled “Ménage-toi” (Take care of yourself) organised by an outside provider in Brittany. “It seemed important to us that we should all re-learn those movements and positions of the body that will keep us in good shape,” says Aurélie Mayer. “This ties in with our approach”.

During those two days, each worker was given the opportunity to present his or her particular task (such as office cleaning, window cleaning, technical work with machines), to place him or herself in the relevant situations and talk about his or her aches and pains. This meant all the participants could adapt their body postures and movements in ways likely to physically ease their work.

“An interesting aspect of this training was that it didn’t only concern work situations, but also situations from daily life, such as the need for mothers to carry their children, to heave shopping bags… It’s the combined effects of the various physical positions taken during work and personal life that creates all those aches and pains.” Thus a kind of choreography was put into place, involving a proper sequence of muscle movements which each participant could practice at work and at home.

“We’re in a line of business where there’s a high labour turnover, where workers aren’t properly appreciated, and where one is just not supposed to open up and  complain,” observed Aurélie Mayers. Her company’s field results prove her point. In 2020 it registered just one work absence for musculoskeletal problems, and in 2021 there were none whatsoever to report.


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