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Derby business, Irongate Group Ltd, talks about safety in the workplace.

Pam Wakefield, facilities supplies specialist at Irongate Group Ltd, the Derby-based business services and supplies company, talks about hazardous cleaning cupboards and how to keep them safe in the workplace.

Is your cleaning cupboard falling foul of the law?

It doesn’t matter where you work, you’ll probably have a cupboard or cabinet filled with cleaning products, and, you might be surprised to know that many will be hazardous.

It’s important to be aware of the different types of labels on each container so you can be in control of your cleaning cupboard.

If they’re specialist chemicals – used for deep cleans to reduce infection – managers will almost certainly have rules in place to ensure the safety of staff.

Chemicals used to keep hospitals, surgeries, offices and care homes clean, as well as chemicals for other applications, all come under The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 (known as COSHH).

COSHH is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health.

So, are your chemicals out of control?

Limiting the number of products in stock is one way to stay safe. Of course, there are many valid reasons for having a huge amount of chemicals – but things can get out of hand.

Investing in low risk products is a safe option and buying in small numbers can ensure that your cleaning cupboard isn’t bursting at the seams. Remember, there are limits to the amount of hazardous chemicals you are allowed. DON’T BREAK THE LAW…

How can I stay safe?

Literally, make a list. Sit down and compile an inventory of all the products you have on site. Remember to include hand cleaners and sanitisers. TIP: Even washing-up liquid should be on it.

Work out all the processes which require chemicals in the workplace and match them to individual tasks.

Once you’ve sussed out what is used, by whom and why, you will start to see the positives.

If there’s a duplication of products – which seemingly all do the same job – work out which individual product can be used the most and stop ordering the others. The smaller the range of products means the lower the risk your site carries in terms of COSHH materials.

Regular stocktaking can also keep a lid on the quantity which, in turn, will limit what needs to be re-ordered. You may even save money too!

Managing the risk

The easiest and simplest way to ensure you are keeping staff safe is to install an approved COSHH cabinet – which is lockable and located in a central space.

If you don’t have one of these, don’t panic. A lockable storage area is just as good as long as the COSHH products are inside. Having said that, you may have to remove other equipment from the area, like electrics and gas metres.

So, what’s a COSHH product?

Practically all your cleaning products fall into the category of a COSHH product.

COSHH covers chemicals, products containing chemicals, fumes, dusts, vapours, mists and gases and biological agents (germs). If the packaging has any of the hazard symbols then it is classed as a hazardous substance.

Know it all…

Businesses must protect staff – that’s a fact. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, managers have a duty to be aware of their business environment. Part of understanding risks is knowing what products are being used in the workplace and what effect they can have on staff.

Having the right supplier will help

Ordering materials from a central source will make it easier to manage your cleaning cupboard. Approved suppliers will be able to supply exactly the right products and you’ll be able to keep a list of what you’ve got.

IMPORTANT: It is vital that all products must remain in original containers where possible.

Accidents

They’ll happen – and there’s nothing you can do about it. But here at Irongate we can help. No workplace can be free from things going wrong.

Just remember that it’s your responsibility to assess the risks and decide whether there is a problem with certain substances. What’s important is to have suitable welfare facilities, like a fire extinguisher and spillage equipment for leaks, in place.

A risk assessment is always a good idea to decide whether there is a problem with the substances your company is using.

Support

Here at Irongate, we can create the best combination of products for your company and provide all the COSHH sheets and back up you need. We think making staff aware is also a good idea.

If they are directly responsible for the cleaning cupboard, they should have received instruction, training and supervision in all of their work. Training will include COSHH awareness and spillage safety.

If you want to know more after reading this, contact us. We’re here to help.


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