Various safety warning labels on canisters of hazardous materials

3 Potential Health Risks of Using Cleaning Products

Maintaining a hygienic work environment has never been more important, especially following the COVID-19 and Monkeypox outbreak. Statistics show that proper commercial cleaning reduces the risk of employees catching common viruses like the flu by an impressive 80%.

Keeping your office clean is crucial, but did you know that cleaning products can be bad for your health?

In this blog post, we will discuss the health risks associated with cleaning products and how you can keep your employees safe.

What are the potential health risks of using cleaning products?

The chemicals in cleaning products can be toxic and exposure may lead to various health complications. Here are some potentially dangerous chemicals found in cleaning products:

  • Phosphates
  • Chlorine
  • Ammonia
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate

Three potential health risks of using cleaning products

  1. 1. Skin and eye irritation

    Many of the chemicals in cleaning products are toxic or corrosive. Exposure can cause eye irritation and a variety of skin allergies including dermatitis.Some strong cleaning products may cause chemical skin burns and serious eye damage if suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) is not used.

  2. 2. Breathing difficulties

    There is evidence to suggest that cleaning products can increase the risk of developing occupational asthma.

    According to a report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), various chemicals in cleaning products have been reported to cause respiratory symptoms, particularly chlorine agents and bleaches.

    Inhaling cleaning products symptoms

    Inhaling cleaning products can be extremely dangerous and lead to a wide variety of breathing issues. Some common side effects of inhaling cleaning products include:

    • Coughing
    • Headaches
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Sore throat and nose
  3. 3. Cancer

    Various cleaning products – including disinfectants and air fresheners – contain potentially carcinogenic compounds that could increase your risk of cancer.

    For instance, one medical study found that women who used cleaning products regularly were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with breast cancer when compared to women who didn’t use cleaning products.

How can I protect employees from the chemicals in cleaning products?

Most of the chemicals in cleaning products have low toxicity and will only cause mild symptoms. However, strong cleaning chemicals can cause serious health complications which is why you must take steps to protect your employees.

Identify potential health hazards

The first thing you need to do is identify what health risks are associated with the cleaning products you use in your workplace. You should also carry out a risk assessment to highlight specific hazards and decide what steps you should take to reduce the risk.

You can find lots of useful information by visiting the COSHH website.

A risk assessment form

Provide suitable PPE

Providing suitable PPE is one of the most effective ways to minimise exposure to potentially hazardous cleaning chemicals.

For instance, wearing a face mask will help your employees avoid the unpleasant side effects of inhaling cleaning products. While safety gloves can protect users from chemical burns and skin irritation when handling cleaning products.

A group of cleaners wearing PPE stand in front of an aircraft

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

Regulation 4 of the legislation states:

“Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to his employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work except where such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.”

Read our recent blog for PPE safety tips to help cleaners stay safe in the workplace.

Provide training for employees

It is essential that you provide employees with all necessary safety training before allowing them to handle potentially hazardous cleaning chemicals. You must teach your staff how to use PPE and handle cleaning products safely in the workplace.

The more training you provide, the less likely you are to have to deal with accidents and health issues caused by chemical hazards.

Ben Giles instructing crime scene cleaning students

Use natural cleaning products

It is possible to make your own natural cleaning products using everyday items like lemon juice and baking soda. You can also purchase natural cleaning products that do not contain any chemicals that cause significant health risks or pollution.

There is a common misconception that the best cleaning product will contain lots of strong chemicals. However, most natural cleaning products are just as effective, without posing a risk to your employees’ health.

If you want to find out more about natural cleaning products, check out our blog: What is green cleaning and what are its environmental benefits?

Environmentally friendly cleaning products

Where should cleaning products be stored?

The safest way to store your cleaning products and supplies is to keep them in a dedicated room or cupboard.

Five storage tips:

  1. Store cleaning products in their original containers and keep them tightly sealed.
  2. Keep cleaning chemicals in a secure and well-ventilated room.
  3. Inspect cleaning products regularly for signs of damage.
  4. Keep flammable substances in fireproof containers.
  5. Never mix cleaning products.

Summary

Cleaning products remove dirt, kill bacteria and viruses, and help you maintain a hygienic office environment. However, the chemicals in cleaning products can be harmful to human health and you must take steps to minimise the risk and keep your employees safe.

At Ultima, we offer a wide range of quality cleaning products from industry-leading brands like Byotrol. Visit the Ultima Store to browse our collection of professional sanitation products or get in touch with our specialists if you would like expert cleaning advice for your business.

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