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Cleaners, security and custodial personnel are likely to have access to all parts of the University's facilities, including restricted access areas. In doing so they may be exposed to a wide variety of hazards ranging from unknown substances in laboratories through to falling from height and entanglement in machinery. These staff may not be aware of hazard management principles applied by the daytime occupants. Furthermore, solo working in remote parts of buildings, or on the campus after dark introduces the hazard of assault.

Cleaners will also use chemical cleaning materials and electrical apparatus in their work, which present further hazards. They are also likely to be involved in repetitive manual tasks which may give rise to muscle discomfort.

Managing hazards

  • It is essential to ensure good communication between all users of a facility. Hazard management principles used by the daytime occupants are likely to be equally as necessary to those present outside normal working hours. Consequently the effects on cleaners, security and custodial personnel must be considered when developing hazard management strategies. As these staff are likely not to have an active involvement in processes etc, this may be achieved simply by the use of warning signs or memos, but may require denial of access or other means to isolate such staff from hazards.
  • By contrast, these staff must also go about their work in such a way as to minimise their exposure to possible hazards. Not touching apparatus or materials unless it is clearly safe to do so is a basic rule. Where potential hazards are encountered, they should be 'flagged', and brought to the attention of the Departmental Health and Safety Officer as soon as practicable.
  • Cleaners must ensure they are familiar with the hazardous properties of the materials they use, and possibly harmful reactions when two or more come into contact. Where required, protective clothing (gloves, eye protection and filter respirators) must be used.
  • Portable electrical apparatus must be served by a residual current device (RCD) or similar to prevent the possibility of electrocution. That apparatus used must be regularly checked for damage or wear, and maintained or replaced as necessary.
  • Where solo working is practised, staff should have a pre-arranged rendezvous with others at the completion of their work or at agreed periods throughout the shift.
  • It is important to have an effective means of emergency communication for after-hours staff. All staff should have access to a telephone and be familiar with the after hours security number.
  • A specific Health & Safety inductions is done for all cleaners working at the University of Otago. Please contact the Health & Safety Office for further details.

Emergency procedures

Where a person does not report to a predetermined rendezvous, steps should be taken to trace them. If no trace of the person is discovered via a preliminary search, assistance from Security Staff should be requested.

Key contacts

Andrea McMillan
Head, Health and Safety Compliance

64 3 479 7380

Nevan Trotter
Health and Safety Advisor

64 3 479 5389

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