Office cleaning standards in focus as workplaces reopen

Office cleaning standards in focus as workplaces reopen

While many Australians begin to return to their office workplaces with an eye to personal hygiene, many may not realise the steps employers are taking. Many workplaces are undertaking high-quality cleaning to protect their workers, and in turn, protect the businesses from liability if a worker should contract COVID-19.

SafeWork Australia and relevant state safety bodies have released guidelines for PCBUs to ensure workplaces are safe, in light of the global health situation. The recommendation is that all workplaces be cleaned daily, but workers are concerned that it may not be to the standard required to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A survey conducted in May, which took into account the opinions of more than 500 cleaners, found that almost all of them (91%) believed they had to rush to complete jobs in the given time frames, while 80% said they didn’t have the appropriate equipment to clean adequately.

Two other independent investigations have been conducted to determine the standards across the industry, and the 2018 survey by the Fair Work Ombudsman reported that it is “…not uncommon for cleaners to report that they do not consider they are afforded sufficient time to complete all the required specifications to a high level.”

In April, a further survey of cleaners working in premises that have been certified by the Cleaning Accountability Framework found that “94 per cent felt adequate precautions are being taken to protect their health and safety, 92 per cent were given enough personal protective equipment, 97 per cent were being provided with enough chemicals and equipment and 84 per cent were able to take paid sick leave.”

The Cleaning Accountability Framework works with cleaners, tenants, contractors, property owners and investors to ensure that cleaners are afforded decent work, sustainable procurement and best practises.

Such a framework could be extended across Australian businesses, or at the least, a cooperative arrangement put in place that prioritises the work of cleaners while working to ensure they are treated fairly and are paid enough.


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