1) Clear communication
Clear communication is the most important aspect, especially where instructions and expectations are concerned. Provide the office cleaners with clear and detailed instructions to ensure that your expectations are met. It is worth discussing and agreeing on any ad hoc or special cleaning needs (for eg. after a function or party) with them beforehand too. Providing them with a list of your instructions can help to avoid any miscommunications and misunderstandings. If you are not satisfied with the job, it is important to provide feedback as soon as possible so they can make changes accordingly.

2) Clear the clutter
Have a workplace policy for the employees to always keep their workstations tidy. Inform them on when the cleaners will be coming so they can tidy up the clutter on their desks before the scheduled cleaning day. Time would not be wasted trying to move files and stacks of papers out of the way to wipe down the desks. Most importantly, clearing clutter lowers the risk of misplaced items and losing any important paperwork. Clearing clutter off the floor would be helpful too. Carpet cleaning can be done easier too when there are minimal object/items left on the floor. This would certainly help the cleaners to do their job more efficiently and effectively.

3) Schedule cleaning time
The best time for office cleaners to clean is when no one, or few employees are around the office. It could be before/after business hours, or the weekends. Avoid having them over during normal working time. Employees would find the vacuum noises too loud and distracting. Some might need to move from their desks for the cleaners to wipe them down. It just makes more sense to give the cleaners and the employees the space they need to work without interruptions, a win-win situation for both parties.

4) Update any changes
Remember to update the office cleaners on any changes in your usual office schedule. For example, if you plan to have a function or a huge office party, there would certainly be more mess to clean up. Out of courtesy, it is also polite to inform your office cleaners beforehand. They will be well prepared to handle the cleaning task at hand and not be shocked by it when they arrive. Always keep them updated on the layout and upgrades of the office to assist them with their cleaning routine so they can make the most of their cleaning time.

5) Be realistic
Be prepared to pay for the type of cleaning services according to the needs of your office. Do remember that office cleaners are humans too. If the office is messier than usual, do not expect the job to be done in an hour. A thorough clean would need more time and effort. If there is a particular section or area that needs deep cleaning, give them more time or have it cleaned more frequently instead of once a week. By making the time frame more acceptable, your office cleaners would not feel too overwhelmed by the workload. You will also be able to maintain a good working relationship with them.

What can cleaners do to maintain workplace safety?

1. Keep skin hydrated
It's vital that cleaners practice good personal hygiene to ensure a safe working environment, protect customers from illnesses, and prevent a loss of reputation for your organisation.

Personal hygiene refers to all the things we do to keep ourselves clean and healthy and protect ourselves from gastric infectious diseases, colds, and the flu.

Cleaners should be provided with the right PPE. Single-use gloves, should be thrown away after each task. Remember, gloves are not a replacement for hand washing. Cleaners must wash their hands both before and after using gloves to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Tip: If skin comes into contact with an allergen or irritant, we recommend rinsing the affected skin with warm water and an emollient (lotion, spray, cream – to soothe and hydrate the skin) as soon as possible. Emollients help prevent patches of inflammation and flare-ups of skin disease.

2. Prevent slips by restricting access
Cleaners must assess the risk from slips and trips and take reasonable precautions. Some simple things cleaners might consider as part of their assessment are spillages and wet or dirty floors.

Most slips happen on wet or dirty floors4. Ensure cleaning happens at the right time and is carried out in the correct manner, using the right products and equipment for the job. Ensure wet floors signs are always used.

People often slip on floors that have been left wet after cleaning. Signs and cones only warn of a hazard, they do not prevent people from entering the area. If the spill is not visible, they are usually ignored.

Tip: If safe to do so, prevent access to smooth wet floors by using barriers, locking doors, or cleaning in sections.

3. Follow correct procedures
Following an effective cleaning procedure is vital for preventing health and safety risks. It ensures that harmful microorganisms are fully removed, and not inadvertently spread, and that any additional risks are minimised. This has been particularly true during the Covid-19 pandemic whereby people have focused on the importance of cleanliness even more so than usual.

As a minimum, the government recommends5 wiping down frequently touched surfaces twice a day, and one of these should be at the beginning or the end of the working day.

Cleaning frequency should increase as the number of people using the space increases, whether they are entering and exiting the setting and access to handwashing and hand-sanitising facilities.

After you have finished the six stages of cleaning, the surface will be fully cleaned and most, or hopefully all, microorganisms will have been destroyed depending on which cleaning products you have used.

Tip: Reducing clutter and removing difficult to clean items can make cleaning easier.

4. Use containers
It is highly unlikely that any adult would ever think of drinking a cleaning substance intentionally, but it is still common to find food or drink containers being used to store hazardous cleaning substances. This should not be done.

Many cleaning companies will buy their cleaning products in bulk, and then decant them into smaller containers to take onto sites and cleaning jobs. Cleaners must follow their organisations procedures for decanting hazardous products and ensure that the allocated containers are used.

Tip: Make sure that all containers are appropriately labelled, it is safe to decant the chemical substance in question, nothing is unlabelled, and nothing from an unlabelled container is used.

5. Training and supervision
Organisations have a legal responsibility to ensure cleaners have a safe working environment. This means that cleaners are given appropriate training and personal protective equipment where required.

Are you confident that your employees and colleagues know how to follow your cleaning procedures and manage work-related risks?

Tip: At The Access Group, we offer a range of eLearning courses, including a 30-minute Health and Safety for Cleaners Course and a range of courses on Chemical Hazards.

Access eLearning course libraries are designed to help you deliver the learning your employees need to stay safe, meet compliance requirements and drive their development.