Risk Insights: Cleaning Contractors’ Cover Considerations
Regardless of the industry or environment, every organisation values a clean, safe and sanitary workplace. Whether it be ensuring a clean waiting room in a health care facility or washing windows on a high-rise, many workplaces would truly be a mess without the aid of cleaning contractors like yourself.
However, given that the nature of this profession is often unpredictable and your work location or job responsibilities can frequently change, there are a variety of potential risks to consider as a cleaning contractor. Be aware of the various risks you and your customers may encounter during the cleaning process and equip yourself with robust cover options to protect against a possible disaster.
Potential Cleaning Contractor Risks
The list of possible risks for cleaning contractors is extensive, and varies depending on both the environment and required tasks. The following categories encompass some of the greatest risks within your profession:
Chemical exposure—It is common for cleaning contractors to work with various cleaning products. Many of these products can be dangerous if inhaled, ingested, spilt, mixed or used incorrectly. Chemical exposure risks include:
- Severe skin or eye irritation and burns from contact with acids, solvents, detergents and disinfectants
- Respiratory infection or failure from inhaling the fumes of acids, solvents and detergents
- Nervous system, kidney or liver complications from contact with solvents and detergents
- Allergic reactions or skin disease from contact with disinfectants, fragrances and colouring agents
- Severe injury, respiratory failure or death from mixing incompatible chemicals
- Injury, death or property damage from using the wrong chemical products for a task
- Fire hazards from flammable cleaning products
Slips, trips and falls—In the process of cleaning, both you and building inhabitants are at risk of serious injury from slips, trips and falls. Potential hazards include the following:
- Fractures, bruising or broken bones from slips, trips and falls on unmarked wet surfaces, in areas with improper lighting or due to spillages
- Serious injury from slips and trips caused by objects, such as cleaning equipment or cables
- Serious injury or death from slips and trips on flights of stairs, either while cleaning or in the event of an unmarked, wet surface
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)—Cleaning contractors may suffer from serious back and neck complications due to repeatedly lifting objects that are too heavy or awkward to carry, or from completing tasks with poor posture.
Machine and equipment hazards—Machine failure or improper use can result in severe injuries for both the operator and any nearby pedestrians. In addition, employees may suffer electric shocks from misuse or faulty electrical equipment. Not to mention, improper use or storage of machines and equipment can cause substantial property damage.
Working at height—In some cases, cleaning contractors may have to work at height to complete a task, such as cleaning windows. This activity generates a risk of severe injury or death in the event of falling from height, either from poor safety practices or faulty equipment.
Lone working—It is common for cleaning contractors to complete tasks when there are few or no people in the building, such as outside normal business hours. As a result, you may encounter the risk of lone working. When working in quiet or remote areas, you are at a higher risk for suffering verbal abuse or physical assault from members of the public or a potential attacker.
Work-related illness—Especially in the cleaning industry, a variety of work-related illnesses can occur due to contact with bacteria, viruses, insects, waste and bodily fluids. These complications include:
- Blood-borne viruses—Cleaners may suffer from hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV when working in environments where needle sticks are present. Needle stick exposure is common for employees that discard of waste or work in health care settings.
- Asbestos exposure—When cleaning buildings, employees may come across asbestos, typically within insulation, pipes, roofing materials, or ceiling and floor tiles. Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis.
- Pathogen exposure—Cleaners that deal with human or animal waste are at risk of exposure to pathogenic organisms, like salmonella or E. coli.
Creating a Robust Cover
Although the potential risks you face as a cleaning contractor are extensive, you can provide yourself with ultimate peace of mind by purchasing robust cover. Consider these options for your business:
- Public liability offers cover against a negligent injury or property damage that you cause to a member of the public because of your work.
- Employers’ liability offers cover against claims of negligence made by employees who suffer injury or ill health due to their work.
- Commercial vehicle provides cover for liability risks on your company’s vehicles, such as a van.
In addition, consider these key industry extensions:
- Damages to property being worked on—this is a common exclusion in many policies, which says that you will not be covered should you accidentally damage property while cleaning
- Loss of customers’ keys
- Misuse of customers’ telephones
- Treatment risks
- Temporary removal of customers or of customers’ goods
- Damage to third-party plant being used
- Failure to secure customers’ premises
- Tools insurance
- Insurance for cleaning equipment
- Financial loss and fidelity bonding
For more guidance, contact Business Insurance Service today.