Health and safety in care service businesses

Hygiene and hazardous substances in care service businesses

If you run a care service business, such as a care home or crèche, you need to pay particular attention to hygiene practices and procedures.

Elderly and young clients may be more vulnerable to infections and to harm from spillages and other accidents. Businesses providing care to them may face particular issues of workplace hygiene.

Hygiene hazards in care homes

Look at all the tasks being carried out in your business and see which ones involve potential hygiene risks. You need to ensure:

  • food preparation areas are clean and uncluttered
  • spillages are mopped up immediately
  • kitchen waste is properly stored and disposed of
  • laundry is appropriately bagged, with soiled laundry separated
  • clinical waste and sharp objects are segregated from general waste
  • hand-wash facilities are plentiful and clean
  • bathrooms and lavatories are clean

Staff will often also require training and equipment to prevent the spread of infections in businesses such as child day care centres or care homes for the elderly. For instance, a crèche or playgroup may need procedures to prevent the spread of head lice.

In care homes, steps may be needed to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases. The biggest risk of blood-borne infection comes from needlesticks where sharps are infected. See diseases, infections and allergies in the workplace.

Hazardous substances in care homes

You're required by law to ensure that risks from hazardous substances used by your business are assessed and managed effectively. These substances may include things such as:

  • cleaning products
  • latex
  • medicines
  • blood
  • asbestos
  • solvent-based paint and ink
  • solvents
  • chemical waste
  • pesticides

Exposure to hazardous substances should be minimised and staff should be trained in how to handle these substances safely and how to deal with accidents and spillages according to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). Download COSHH guidance (PDF, 264K).

You must also comply with laws covering the disposal of hazardous waste. See dealing with hazardous waste.