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What a health and safety culture means in practice

We protect our staff, our clients, and the general public through strict health and safety protocols in all our cleaning assignments

Robust health and safety culture at REACT Specialist Cleaning reduces risk
Risk mitigation and corporate responsibility sits at the heart of our health and safety culture

A few years ago, it was a familiar refrain in sections of the UK press that ‘Health and Safety has gone mad’. These stories portrayed health and safety legislation as a costly burden, an inhibitor to business growth, and even at times nonsensical. But these laws exist to protect employees of all UK organisations; employers have responsibilities for the management and mitigation of risks. And increasingly, organisations are being judged on how well they meet these objectives, as part of a focus on broader corporate responsibility. Here at REACT, we recognise the benefits of health and safety legislation, practice, and culture. After all, the specialist cleaning work we undertake is often intended to make life healthier and safer. To deliver these results, we must minimise risks for three groups of people: our cleaning operatives, our clients and their staff, and the general public. In this blog, we take a closer look at how our health and safety culture delivers.

The context: health and safety culture as a key part of contractor compliance

We know that our clients need to be able to understand and make conscious decisions about the risks inherent in the suppliers they choose to work with. They'll need to check suppliers comply with anti-bribery and corruption (ABC) and modern slavery legislation, and that they hold all relevant insurances They'll need reassurance that suppliers and their subcontractors meet data security requirements, and that they don't pose a financial risk. And critically, they’ll need confidence that suppliers meet health and safety responsibilities.

In the case of REACT, we work hard to meet all those criteria for corporate responsibility. Our cleaning operatives are on site with our clients for a range of specialist cleaning assignments. Many of these involve the use of complicated equipment and complex techniques. So when it comes to health and safety, we have robust processes that runs through everything we do. From dealing with biohazardous spillages to working with mobile elevating platforms, we go high and low to mitigate the risks inherent in the work we do.

Protecting our cleaning operatives: practicing what we preach

We take seriously our responsibilities as employers. Of course, we do this to comply with the law. The primary legislation covering occupational health and safety in the UK is the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, together with later amendments, as well as the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. There is also legislation covering reporting of accidents and incidents at work, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). It’s essential to have a rigorous policy that codifies your organisation’s policies and procedures around lone working, in line with these regulations.

But it’s also because we know it’s the right thing for us to do. Our staff are our most important assets. This is something that many organisations have recognised even more starkly over the past three years. For us, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) is a crucial element underpinning health and safety. We always ensure PPE is appropriate, fits the individual, and is maintained, cleaned, or replaced when needed. And critically, we train all our cleaning operatives in its proper use, as well as confirming that they’re using it properly. For instance, it’s no good just handing out facemasks and protective suits, without clear instructions on how to safely don and doff them.

Protecting our clients and their staff: risk assessments and mitigations

Before every cleaning assignment, we undertake a risk assessment of the work we’ll be doing. As in any risk assessment, we look at two axes of risk: the severity of impact and the likelihood of an event taking place. This is to make sure that we have a minimal impact on our clients’ premises and their workers. For some cleaning assignments, we’ll reduce risks and other impacts by cleaning during a quieter period. Usually, this means a night-time clean, in such situations as janitorial cleaning in schools, or regular cleaning at railway stations.

But for other more intensive cleaning regimes, this may not be an option. We may need to be operating during daylight hours to safeguard our staff and passers-by (for instance, in the case of rope access cleaning). Alternatively, there may not be a quieter period in cases where service is 24/7, such as hospital wards. Or we may be responding to an emergency, where a sudden spillage or incident on a transport network requires a rapid response. That’s when we’ll make sure we work to protect everyone on-site with clear warning signage, safety cordons, and other safety equipment. We’ll work to mitigate every risk.

Protecting the general public: preparing for every eventuality

In many cases, our cleaning operatives need to interact with the general public too. Especially in the aftermath of trauma, we certainly don’t want to add to other people’s problems. We’ll always work with emergency services that are on site, responding to instructions and focusing on limiting the risks for passers-by. Of course, some incidents may be beyond anyone’s control. That’s why we carry £20 million of relevant insurance cover (including for public indemnity). Our broad-based health and safety culture allows us to get results – and we’re prepared for every eventuality.

To find out more about REACT Specialist Cleaning and our commitment to a robust health and safety culture, contact one of the team today.

Post by Shaun D. Doak

Shaun is the CEO of REACT Group plc., a business dedicated to specialist cleaning, hygiene and decontamination. 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 sector.


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