What is the key to good chemical applications?
Tommy Taylor, Operations Director, MEATAC, expounds…
Any form of training is important not only for the operative but also the employer and the end user. When it comes to chemicals, there is a lot of misuse – over use, under use and wrong use all together. Any service provider that has all the right parameters in place, can save a lot on cost, chemicals and labour as the correct portion control will ensure that optimum level of cleanliness is achieved. There are several different methods of portion control and, where possible, the service provider should ensure that the right method is employed for the right application. Service providers should encourage clients to select appropriate chemicals based on the location and surfaces they have been designed for and not for the smell or colour.
At MEATAC, we ensure that all manual methods are employed. Each candidate is given the opportunity to dilute a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 4 chemicals into different colour-coded receptacles. A candidate would have to select the right chemical and match it to the environment in which it needs to be used. Candidates are then taught how to use a dilution rate chart, which helps them get the exact amount of chemicals in proportion to water. They are taught to understand how to use COSHH and Safety Data Sheets, which are very important in the commercial cleaning environment.
During the COSHH training, we cover the following 8 steps:
- Carefully consider what hazardous substances are used in the workplace and find out the health risks associated with using these substances.
- Decide what precautions are needed before starting work with hazardous substances.
- Prevent people from being exposed to hazardous substances, but where this is not reasonably practicable, control the exposure.
- Make sure control measures are used and maintained properly and that safety procedures are followed.
- If required, monitor exposure of employees to hazardous substances.
- Carry out health surveillance where your assessment has shown that this is necessary or COSHH makes specific requirements.
- If required, prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies.
- Make sure all employees are properly informed, trained and supervised.
We also cover the 16 sections on an SDS with emphasis on where to find relevant information that related to day to day use. Finally we align all of the above with Risk Assessments.
At MEATAC, we encourage all participants to renew their qualifications after 3 years. When they return to us, we test their understanding of chemical dilution. They are re-trained and have to answer 20 questions. Having said that, any form of refresher training is good just to ensure that the operative is maintaining what they have been told and shown. It would also be good to have tool box talks that give a short snap shot of what the company would expect.
Repercussions of not using chemicals properly
If chemicals are not used in the right manner it will have a detrimental effect on the health of both the user and end users. Over use of a chemical can and will damaged surfaces. It can discolour surfaces, deteriorate them and therefore shorten the life of a surface/finish; it can also increase the risk of slipping and have a detrimental effect on the outcome if conducting a barrier-clean in a medical environment.
Compliance is key to any cleaning operation. The application of training is crucial to meet and exceed the needs of health and safety. Good training, robust documentation, good and experience supervision are key. The following documents should be made available to all; Safe systems of work, Method statements, COSHH data, Task risk assessment, Company COSHH assessment and tool box talks. Break the chain, and this could result in problems for all concerned. At the end of the day, good or bad documents are not the only thing that will help to ensure compliance, but the key factor is going to be good, effective communication with all staff and at all levels.