Industrial cleaning is about more than ticking boxes

A rigorous cleaning schedule that’s designed to prevent the build-up of grit, grime and dirt is one of the most significant keys to ensuring workplace safety, according to experts

Having clean and orderly workplaces in an industrial setting such as a warehouse serves a purpose beyond meeting health and safety standards, according to Emma Corder, managing director of Industroclean.

“There are two important factors to take into account when it comes to warehouse maintenance,” she says. “The first aspect is investment. If you have laid out capital and bought your own premises, you’d want to protect your asset. By implementing proper maintenance processes and keeping the warehouse clean, you will protect your capital layout.

“Companies are also protecting themselves against other forms of loss – such as damage to reputation – caused by negligence that results in a workplace injury or fatality. That could easily lead to reputational harm, lost business and productivity, as well as creditworthiness with insurers. And, without liability cover, a company’s operations could literally come to a grinding halt.”

Workplace safety is a key area of focus for labour and industrial inspectors tasked with monitoring compliance. Industrial firms – from manufacturers to logistics providers – come under close scrutiny because of their work environments have heightened threats of injury. Corder suggests a rigorous cleaning schedule to prevent the build-up of grit, grime and dirt.

“When applying this approach to a warehouse floor, for example, always start with clearing out loose debris with a floor sweeper. Follow this up with a scrubber dryer that will give a deep clean to remove hard-to-lift dirt and grime. These machines simultaneously dry the floor, thereby reducing the possibility of slips on a wet floor.”

When it comes to the maintenance and cleaning of floors, Corder says safety remains a big concern in every workplace environment. “Here, a clean environment keeps everyone safe. A build-up of dust can affect machinery, which could then damage the floor.

Scuffmarks are another common issue on warehouse floors. It is important to remember that flooring is a costly investment. Some industries prefer epoxy coating over concrete floors, but if this is neglected, it may need to be redone in five years,” she says.

If cleaning is done by an in-house team, Corder recommends investing in suitable sweeping, scrubbing and vacuuming systems. “The most important step in the cleaning process is sweeping. This should take up about 80 percent of cleaning time. Wet cleaning, which includes scrubbing, should take up 20 percent of the time.

“It is also important to curate the right chemicals, as this affects whether the cleaning will be effective, and may also have an effect on the well-being of staff members if the wrong product is used.”

According to Lee O’Reilly, Industroclean’s SHEQ manager, risks increase when no proper maintenance measures are in place. She advises warehouse managers to conduct regular safety audits of their workplaces.

“There are plenty of risks,” she explains. “There is an increased risk of fire in a cluttered environment. Make an effort to separate items that are in use from those that could be moved to a storage section. The more hazards there are in a workplace, the more vulnerable employees become to injury.”

Simple cleaning schedules will go a long way to ensuring that warehouse spaces are kept clean and free of grime and dust. Naturally, an organised and clean work environment promotes productivity and prevents loss of tools and stock.

Corder says the simplest way to ensure that cleaning is done regularly and to the standard required is to consult with a company that has the expertise to provide advice on these tasks.

“We have many years of experience within a multitude of different industries, so we have a keen understanding of the pitfalls and what is required. It is advisable to focus on procurement of the right equipment from a compliant supplier,” she says.

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