With increased hygiene standards and practices expected across all workplaces, chemicals are more prevalent than ever at work.
Research has found that one in five people (1) have a chemical sensitivity that ranges from fragrance sensitivity to asthma-like reactions. Therefore, ensuring your workplace is healthy as well as safe is the key to a successful return to work.
Proper management and use of chemicals critical to ensure a safe environment. Safe Work Australia provides an excellent guide to consider when reviewing your practices. In addition to this, we recommend these 5 considerations to ensure your workplace is not only safe but healthy:
Five steps to a safe and healthy workplaces
1. Understand what chemicals you are using
Many cleaning chemicals don’t have complete ingredients listed on the packaging. Ensure you really know what you are using by requesting the Material Safety Data Sheet from the manufacturer. This will tell you all the ingredients, along with toxicity and environmental concerns about the product.
2. Identify opportunities to reduce and replace harsh chemicals with safer alternatives.
Today we are fortunate to have a wide range of safe alternatives to many cleaning chemicals. Many of the chemicals that end up by default in your cleaning store can be replaced with safer and more environmentally friendly alternatives.
eWater one good example of a natural and safe solution being able to support businesses replacing many chemicals – including – food sanitisers, surface disinfectants and cleaners, floor and window cleaners and more.
3. Swap out fragrant chemicals to reduce instances of asthma and sensitivities.
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) including formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, esters, and alcohols can be found in many cleaning products causing asthma and other air pollution sensitivities.
If your cleaning products have a strong fragrance or chemical smell, ask your supplier to swap them out for an alternative. Your team and customers will thank you for it!
4. Make sure your team understands the importance of cleaning before disinfecting or sanitising.
This is a simple one, always clean before you disinfect/sanitise a surface. Dirt, grime, fats and grease harbour microorganisms and significantly reduce the ability of sanitising and disinfectant products to kill bacteria and viruses.
5. Check the contact time required for your disinfectant or sanitiser.
All sanitising and disinfectant products have a minimum contact time to achieve the kill claim they promote. Be sure to read the instructions for the product you are using to find out how long the solution should be left on a surface before wiping clean.
Don’t be surprised to find out that your product recommends a 10 or even 15-minute contact time.
Steinemann, A. International prevalence of chemical sensitivity, co-prevalences with asthma and autism, and effects from fragranced consumer products. Air Qual Atmos Health 12, 519–527 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11869-019-00672-1