Wiping away cleaning issues

25 January 2013

Products such as tightly-sealed dispensers, disposable nonwovens, pre-moistened wipes and colour-coded cloths all have a part to play in making manufacturing environments safer, as Mark Riley of SCA explains Cleaning

Products such as tightly-sealed dispensers, disposable nonwovens, pre-moistened wipes and colour-coded cloths all have a part to play in making manufacturing environments safer, as Mark Riley of SCA explains

Cleaning tasks in the manufacturing industry can be a risky business. Open containers filled with solvents or other strong cleaning fluids may be spilled on to the floor where they will swiftly become a slipping hazard.Meanwhile, health issues could occur if an employee were to inhale chemicals or come into skin contact with them.

Chemical dosing systems that dispense cleaning fluids in measured quantities can help to improve safety. However, such systems are not always practical - for example, in workshops there is often a need for spilled substances such as oil and paint to be removed immediately from surfaces or components.

Certain sensible health and safety precautions should be taken wherever strong chemicals are in use. Lids should be kept tightly sealed on containers of chemicals where possible to avoid any evaporation into the air, and sealed containers should also be used for solvent-contaminated waste.

Workers should be provided with protective clothing where appropriate such as gloves, aprons, goggles or respiratory protection.

Premises should be adequately ventilated during cleaning tasks and staff should be encouraged to report any damaged or defective ventilation or safety equipment to their employer.Workers should also have access to a safe and effective wiping system.

The traditional tool for wiping tasks in manufacturing environments used to be a textile rag or laundered cloth. However, rags may contain zips or hooks and eyes that can snag the skin or aggravate skin conditions.

When used in conjunction with solvents, rags can present other potential problems.

Some synthetic rags are not very absorbent while others are highly effective at soaking up solvents, but not so good at releasing them afterwards. Solvents retained within a cloth that is then left on the workbench can have health implications for employees. One solution is to use disposable wipers that are protected in a dispenser before use and then thrown away.

Tork Premium 530, for example, is suitable for heavy industrial cleaning since it is tough enough to be used with solvents but has been designed to efficiently release the solvent back on to the working surface. It is available in the W4 wall-mounted Tork Performance dispenser which protects wipers from dirt and contamination before use. The product is part of the Tork Premium Multipurpose 500 series of wipers which have low electrical charging for added safety.

The use of impregnated wipes can also help to improve workplace safety since it removes the need for using 'neat' liquid chemicals. For example, Tork Wet Wipes Surface Cleaning are impregnated with a detergent that has been dermatologically tested to be safe to use on the hands.Wipes are enclosed in a sealed container which removes the potential hazard of an open bucket of cleaning fluid, while protecting the wipes from drying out before use.

Different rules apply in food environments where the risk to employee safety arises not from harsh chemicals, but from bacteria from raw foodstuffs.When researching the market for our new Tork Performance dispensing system we came across food environments where centrefeed wiper dispensers had long since cracked, leaving the paper roll exposed to contamination.We also found loose wiper rolls on food surfaces where the trailing end could potentially become contaminated with bacteria.

In these environments tightly-sealed dispensers such as those in the Tork Performance range will protect the wipers from contamination. In food environments colour-coded cloths can help to ensure that cross-contamination is avoided. Tork Premium Specialist Colour-Coded Cloths for example allow staff to link each wiping task or surface with a specific colour of cloth.

An appropriate wiping system can play its part in the safety of any manufacturing or food environment. Pre-moistened wipers, colour-coded cloths, effective non-wovens and durable dispensers as part of a cohesive wiping system all have a role to play in minimising safety risks - while contributing to a more efficient working environment.