The occupational safety and health of cleaning workers


This report provides an overview of the most important issues related to occupational safety and health (OSH) for cleaning workers in terms of working conditions, risks and prevalence of exposures and health outcomes, and identifies information gaps and challenges. Cleaning includes a broad range of activities performed in different work environments across all sectors. The risks to which cleaners are exposed therefore depend on the tasks they perform and the premises they work in. As most of the cleaning work is performed as contract cleaning, employers sometimes face difficulties in controlling the OSH conditions in the "host companies" where their staff work. Accessing information on occupational accidents and diseases remains challenging as cleaning workers are spread over different sectors and it is therefore difficult to put monitoring systems in place. In addition, a significant part of the cleaning workforce is undeclared, especially in private households, which also complicates data collection. Studies on work-related diseases indicate that MSDs, respiratory diseases, including asthma, skin diseases and mental ill health are the most common work-related health effects found in cleaners, and suggest a higher prevalence of health problems in cleaning workers than in other sectors.

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