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Bathroom ventilation Domestic cleaning products Hygiene Shower floors

Introduction

Decisions about workplace facilities (which include toilets and showers) will depend on the industry the business is operating in, the nature of the work carried out, the size and location of the workplace and the number and composition of workers at the workplace.

All workers, including those who have particular needs or disabilities, must have access to adequate facilities while they are at work. However, it may not always be reasonably practicable to provide the same types of facilities for a temporary, mobile or remote workplace that are normally provided for at a fixed workplace and access to external public toilets is sometimes required.

Workplaces and facilities should be cleaned regularly, usually on a daily or weekly basis. The cleaning schedule of facilities such as dining areas, toilets, hand basins and showers should take into account shift work, the type of work performed, the likelihood of contamination and the number of workers using them.

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Ventilation

Ventilation is the process of removing and replacing air in the building. Sometimes supplemental ventilation can be provided by exhaust fans in showers and toilets.

Tips

  • Vent odours to the outside atmosphere.
  • Use extractor fans in showers to remove steam.
  • Shower quickly.

Potential harm

Breathing issues
Unpleasant odour
Identified Hazards and Controls

Odours

Cause

  • Unpleasant odours permeating adjacent areas.
  • Use exhaust fans where available.
  • Report any maintenance issues to your building maintenance team such as blocked drains, toilets or mould build up.
  • Install extractor fan that vents odours to the outside air and prevents odours being drawn into the office air conditioning system.Sometimes deodorisers or automatic air fresheners are installed in bathrooms. These can bring new risks to persons susceptible to breathing issues or allergies to scents. Check with workers before introducing air fresheners to check no-one has an allergy.
  • Follow up on maintenance reports.
  • Clean showers regularly to prevent mould build up.

Steam

Cause

  • Excessive condensation from steam generated from hot water.
  • Lack of visibility.
  • Use exhaust fans provided.
  • Try not to shower for too long with the water too hot.
  • Report any issues.
  • Install an extractor fan or appropriate vents to disperse steam appropriately.
  • Use thermostat to control hot water temperature.

Further information

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Domestic cleaning products

The risk to users of the showers and toilets is in residual chemicals not being washed off thoroughly (when being cleaned) or entering the area just after it has been cleaned (strong odours of ammonia).

Chemicals which are generally for domestic use and considered safe in the home may present greater risks in the workplace depending on the frequency, duration and the way in which they are used. This is particularly relevant, for example, where domestic cleaning chemicals are purchased from a supermarket and used in a workplace environment. You should always follow label directions. However, if you are using a domestic chemical in a manner different to normal household use, you should also obtain the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) in order to determine the level of risks to workers and the appropriate controls. The SDS should contain more detailed information on hazards and risks, for example on incompatibilities with other chemicals and risks from use in enclosed areas.

Read more

Tips

  • Use cleaning chemicals for intended use.
  • Follow instructions & handle with care.
  • Do not use an unlabelled product.

Potential harm

Allergies
Poisoning
Identified Hazards and Controls

Storage and handling

Cause

  • Chemicals stored above head height may spill on the worker lifting them down.
  • Chemicals not securely contained potentially producing odours / fumes.
  • Chemicals not stored in original containers.
  • Always read and follow usage instructions.
  • Know who the first aid officer is and how to contact them quickly.
  • Be aware that some individuals can suffer asthma or allergic reactions from certain types of spray cleaners, perfumes and liquids.
  • Keep the original label on each container.
  • Obtain Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all chemicals used in the workplace.
  • Chemicals stored in bulk form will require labelling under the Globally Harmonised Labelling System (GHS).

    Consumer products

    A hazardous chemical does not need to meet the labelling requirements under the WHS Regulations if the chemical is a consumer product with the original label on its container and if it is reasonably foreseeable that the hazardous chemical will be used in the workplace only:

    • in a quantity that is consistent with consumer household use
    • in a way that is consistent with consumer household use, and
    • in a way that is incidental to the nature of the work carried out by a worker using the chemical.

    The following example shows how to distinguish between a consumer product and a workplace hazardous chemical:

    Toilet cleaner is sold in 750 ml bottles for domestic use and is sold in 20 L containers to commercial cleaning businesses. The 750 ml bottle is intended for domestic use and does not need to be labelled in accordance with the WHS Regulations.

    However, it is reasonably foreseeable that, due to the package size of the 20 L product, it would be used in a workplace rather than in a domestic situation. Therefore, the 20 L product must be labelled according to workplace labelling requirements.

  • Provide training and instruction and supervision for the decanting, storage and handling of chemicals.
  • Conduct regular inspection to check that chemical containers are appropriate for storage and accurately labelled.
  • Where possible substitute hazardous chemicals with less toxic alternatives.

Labelling and identification

Cause

  • Substances kept in containers without proper labels.
  • Do not use an unlabelled product.
  • Only decant in accordance with procedures.
  • Record details of all substances kept.
  • Maintain a file of Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for all substances used / stored by the workplace.
  • Maintain strict controls on decanting of substances.
  • Ensure all substances are clearly and correctly marked and labelled.
  • If the contents (of the container) cannot be identified, they should be disposed of in accordance with relevant local waste management requirements.
  • Conduct regular inspections.

Spillages

Cause

  • Containers not secured properly.
  • Secure lids properly after use.
  • Do not clean up spills if you are unsure what the liquid is.
  • Report spills to your employer.
  • use Personal Protective Equipment as required to protect health and safety.
  • Set up signage indicating that there has been a spill.
  • Do not puncture or otherwise damage pressure containers.
  • Have SDS for all chemicals held on the premises and available to workers.
  • Have personal protective equipment appropriate to the requirements of the SDS available (eg. face masks/ breathing apparatus etc).
  • Provide workers with instruction in dealing with spillages of substances, including the name of contacts to arrange clean up.
  • Warn others to stay clear of spillage site.
  • Update emergency response plans.

First aid treatment

Cause

  • Contact with a substance.
  • Follow recommended first aid information provided on the SDS (where available).
  • Ensure you know how to contact the first aid officer.
  • Check that the first aid officers are familiar with the types of chemicals in use at the workplace and what the appropriate response to a spill. Provide Emergency First Aid Officers with information for the appropriate treatment of the skin, eye, or internal organs for the substances used at the workplace.
  • Display first aid and emergency contact number in obvious positions in the workplace.
  • Make SDS readily available.

Further information

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Hygiene

Toilets and showers require regular cleaning to prevent the build-up of mould, grime, and infectious and transferable diseases. However, washing your hands is the best defence against many ‘bugs’ that may be lurking. Your mobile phone probably contains more germs than the toilet or shower!

Number of toilets: For workplaces within buildings, the National Construction Code of Australia sets out the ratio of toilets to the number of workers, and the specifications for toilets. Generally, separate toilets should be provided in workplaces where there are both male and female workers. However, one unisex toilet may be provided in workplaces with both male and female workers where:

  • the total number of people who normally work at the workplace is 10 or less
  • there are two or less workers of one gender.
Read more

Tips

  • Use your own towel.
  • Wear footwear when showering.
  • Clean facilities regularly.

Potential harm

Allergies
Sharps injuries
Identified Hazards and Controls

Transfer of fungal disease

Cause

  • Build up of grime and mould in showers.
  • Personal hygiene lacking.
  • Use your own personal towel and toiletries.
  • Wear waterproof footwear in the shower to avoid catching or passing on fungal disease.
  • Thoroughly dry your feet and toes. Use a powder to make sure they are dry.
  • If you have a fungal infection, avoid using the showers until the infection has cleared.
  • Clean up after yourself. Don’t leave wet towels or clothes lying around.
  • Recommend people shower wearing footwear such as sandals, waterproof shoes or flip flops.
  • Put up signage warning shower users of the risk of fungal infection and how to prevent it.
  • Showers should be cleaned regularly, usually on a daily or weekly basis. The cleaning schedule of facilities such as toilets, hand basins and showers should take into account shift work, the type of work performed, the likelihood of contamination and the number of workers using them.

    At least one shower cubicle for every 10 workers who may need to shower should be provided. Usually separate facilities should be provided for male and female workers. However, in small or temporary workplaces where privacy can be assured, it may be acceptable to provide one unisex shower.  (source: Work Health and Safety (Managing the Work Environment and Facilities) Code of Practice 2015 (Cth))

  • Consider using antibacterial cleaning solutions.
  • Provide alcohol based hand sanitiser, and encourage good hand hygiene.

Needle stick injury

Cause

  • Sharps and syringes not disposed of properly.
  • If you require the use of needles (to administer medication at work) then dispose of such items appropriately so as not to cause risk to others (use the sharps bin where provided, usually located in toilets or first aid rooms).
  • Provide sharps bin for safe disposal of needles and blades (out of reach of children).
  • Where possible, restrict access to facilities after hours to deter non-workers entering the facilities and using them for illicit purposes.

Allergies

Cause

  • Cleaning products used in showers and toilets.
  • Fragrances and air fresheners.
  • Other worker’s deodorant, perfumes, colognes.
  • If you have known allergies to cleaning products or perfumes you should advise your employer so they can make appropriate decisions about what cleaning products are used and when.
  • Check if other people are nearby before spraying deodorants and perfumes.
  • Act on any concerns raised about the use of fragrances in the office by consulting with staff to ascertain the issue.

Further information

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Shower floor

One of the simplest methods for employers to promote healthy work life balance is to make it easier for workers to ride their bicycles or walk to work and exercise during breaks. Providing shower facilities at the office can encourage employees to move more and incorporate fitness into their daily routines.

Tips

  • Keep the floor clear of objects.
  • Rinse the shower cubicle to remove soap residue.
  • Dry off before moving around the room.

Potential harm

Slips Trips Falls
Identified Hazards and Controls

Slips and falls

Cause

  • Slippery or wet floor surface.
  • Items left on the floor.
  • Pick up after yourself.
  • If you notice the floor is wet report it to the maintenance or property management team to mop it up if it is too big for you to quickly wipe up.
  • Dry yourself before walking around the change area to avoid dripping water.
  • Don’t leave behind shampoo or soap residue for others to slip on.
  • Choose a non-slip floor material or one with a textured surface that can be wet-mopped.
  • Use only non-slip floor cleaners or polishes for floor maintenance.
  • Provide appropriate drainage.
  • Conduct regular inspections to ensure that the drainage is operational.
  • Provide appropriate storage (e.g. bins, towel racks, dispensers).
  • Display appropriate signage to encourage good housekeeping habits (e.g. picking up towels after use, disposing of paper towels appropriately etc.).
  • Provide regular cleaning of the showers and toilet floors.

Further information