PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and refers to any kinds of special clothing or items you have to wear or use to carry out a certain task. Of course, it’s important in janitorial and contract cleaning because of the potential harm to people from cleaning substances such as bleach, or cleaning activities such as mopping floors. That means it’s vital to protect our workers – and the wider public – from the risks associated with these materials.
Of course, for some of our specialist cleaning jobs, there are also hazardous and biohazardous materials involved, and the PPE kit ionvolved there is another story. Indeed, for some jobs we need to deploy the highest levels of skin, respiratory system and eye protection.
But for the more day-to-day jobs, at this time of year, it can be a difficult balance to strike a balance between safety and health. There’s a danger that workers will overheat if using PPE which is poorly adapted to specific weather conditions. We thought we’d give some insight into some considerations when choosing some of the basic cleaning PPE.
Specialist cleaning PPE: the legislative framework
Within a work context, there is a specific requirement to consider PPE under The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. Essentially, when when there is a risk to workers, PPE must be used and maintained. So there is a duty to consider this form of protection in general compliance legislation. But much of this health & safety is also common sense, such as wearing gloves when dealing with bleach.
Of course, PPE legislation is intended protect both the person doing the cleaning and the people using the cleaned area. This generally becomes more involved the more potentially dangerous or sensitive a cleaning activity is.
Items to consider for specialist cleaning PPE in summer
Practically, we always look for a ‘CE’ mark on any equipment we purchase such as gloves, as this provides verification that the PPE is fit for purpose and meets European Safety Standards. Indeed, the PPE regulations were tightened in April 2018, so we reviewed all our procurement processes then.
We’re going to focus on three of teh basic areas for janitorial and contract cleaning PPE in summer: gloves, eye cover (goggles and glasses) and body cover (aprons and shoe covers).
1. Gloves clearly help protect hands from substances and harm. They can also help prevent pathogens from people’s hands being directly transferred onto items being cleaned and used. Therefore cleaning without gloves should be very infrequent, and they should be used by default in most cleaning activities. The most popular types are vinyl and latex, which can be powder coated to allow them to fit to the contours of the hand. Vinyl is helpful for smaller jobs but can cause irritations for those with allergies. Nitrile is another type which are more durable than, say, latex gloves but without the risk of allergies. Where possible, we will try and find breathable fabrics, as long as they don’t impact on protecting our workers against harm.
2. Goggles and glasses can be used to protect potential eye contact with substances, generally for more major cleaning activities rather than general light duties. In addition to obvious scenarios like sprays contacting eyes, they can help prevent any accidental spillages and splashes from when you move substances somewhere else. It’s vital to ensure they clean themselves and don’t cause a visual hindrance if they get spray and substances on them. In the summer too, they can also protect against over-exposure to high UV levels.
3. Body coverings have the obvious benefit of protecting people from spillages or marks. But aprons and pinafores can also help store cleaning items like cloths and sprays in those which have pockets in them. Again, we would look where possible for breathable fabrics, as long as these don’t impact negatively on coverage. Shoe covers typically go over existing shoes and boots to protect them from spillages and cleaning, particularly involving potentially messy floor cleaning. We will always risk assess the situation to determine whether we need specialist footwear rather than just covers over existing ones.
Specialist cleaning PPE that’s sustainable
One other vital consideration for us is sustainability and environmental management. One element in choosing PPE and products is to ensure that we can follow the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ model as far as possible. For instance, we would avoid disposable gloves (although for certain cleaning jobs, these are optimal). But ultimately, our choices for seasonal specialist cleaning PPE are about providing the highest levels of safety and health for our workers and the broader public.
Find out more about how we approach Specialist Cleaning PPE in our range of cleaning services by contacting the team today.
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Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the Managing Director of React Specialist Cleaning. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sectors.