Cleaning operatives often work unsociable hours and on their own. This places them in potential physical danger and at risk of false accusations if something untoward happens during their shift. Neil Ricketts, Technical Services Director at Trigion, explains how the right security solutions can safeguard your operatives and reputation.
Although there is an increasing acceptance of day-time cleaning, the majority of cleaning contractors still do most of their work outside normal working hours, so that they don’t disrupt their clients’ operations.
Under cover of darkness
Working alone late at night, especially in the dark winter months, means that cleaning operatives can be at risk both travelling to and from a site, especially if public transport is limited or unavailable. There is also the risk that someone will try to gain access to premises while the cleaning operative is working, perhaps even forcing them to allow access. This was the case in Australia recently when a cleaner was threatened with a knife as they left an Adelaide bank at about 1.30am. Thankfully in that case no-one was hurt and a man was subsequently arrested and charged with aggravated robbery.
All reputable cleaning firms will have rigorous vetting processes in place when recruiting staff, but that isn’t enough to place them above suspicion if a theft takes place or property is damaged; a situation that is potentially reputation-damaging for the individual concerned and the company employing them.
A further area of potential concern is that working alone can mean cleaning operatives are at risk if they have an accident. Slips, trips and falls are still the most common form of accident in the workplace. If no-one is aware that an accident has happened it could be hours before help arrives.
Duty of care
Many security solutions will be the responsibility of the building owner. However, anyone employing cleaning operatives has a duty of care for their employees and they should look to implement any solutions they can and discuss other options with the property management.
Security no longer means just a guard sitting behind a desk. Guards are able to offer a variety of services to assist businesses. However, it is likely that electronic solutions are more appropriate, and cost effective, for keeping cleaning operatives safe for isolated work.
Keeping an eye out
Remote access systems can ensure that only authorised people can gain access to a building using proximity, swipe card or biometric access control systems. These give employees peace of mind in and around the building or premises, and ensure that out of hours staff are managed successfully and securely.
Staff identification cards, with magnetic swipe facilities, bar code reading technology and photographic identification allow for the monitoring and – if required – tracking of personnel.
Specialist security companies, like ours, can also install proactive CCTV systems that prevent crimes occurring by actively connecting with the site using visual and audio tools at the point of intrusion; providing real security control and preventing theft or damage to your property.
Technology can help protect the cleaning operatives too. We have developed the ‘TRIGILINQ’ system, a highly accurate, real time GPS tracking device which allows our remote team to keep an eye on lone workers. The system includes a non-movement alarm, panic button and two-way radio so that the control room can escalate the situation if problems arise.
Shifting the risk
Shift work is unlikely to go away in the near future, but that doesn’t mean people working unsociable hours should be at risk. Flexible technological solutions now offer the chance to keep your cleaning operatives safe and enhance your attractiveness as an employer.