Too many Australians tasked with cleaning workplaces during pandemic

A new study has found that three in every five Australians have been expected to clean their workplaces this year at the height of a global pandemic.

Throughout the tumult of 2020, many road transport companies have been required to work right through the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic mitigating safety risks as best they can.

Shared spaces of transport depots and truck cabins, long considered the office of the heavy vehicle operator, have naturally come under additional scrutiny as workers and management have had to take a non-negotiable attitude to reducing the chances of spreading the virus.

New research has found that 59 per cent of employees in a recent survey admitted their organisations have asked them, or their colleagues, to clean areas of their workplace.

The findings come from an independent survey of a nationally representative panel of 1000 Australian employees, commissioned by Cleancorp (cleancorp.com), a specialist anti-viral commercial cleaning company.

According to the survey, more than half (55 per cent) of Aussie workers have been asked by management – or think they will be asked when they get back to work – to take responsibility for sanitising their own workspaces so that it becomes a normal part of their workday, and doesn’t burden the company with additional cleaning costs.

It also appears the larger the organisation, the more regularly their workplaces are being cleaned.

More than half (54 per cent) of respondents in organisations of 501-1000 employees and 51 per cent of respondents in organisations of 51-500 employees said their workplace is being cleaned more regularly. This compares with 44 per cent of those in small organisations (15-50 employees), and 34 per cent micro-businesses (up to 15 employees).

Forty-four (44) per cent of respondents indicated that their workplace is being cleaned more regularly, while 15 per cent say their workplace is being cleaned more thoroughly, and a fifth (20 per cent) reveal it is being cleaned more regularly and more thoroughly.

Those working in the media and entertainment, healthcare and retail industries are more likely to have been tasked with such responsibilities.

Sixty four per cent in healthcare and retail are taking responsibility for the sanitisation of their workspaces while that figure climbed to 73 per cent of those in the media and entertainment industry.

This compares with 46 per cent working in IT, energy and telecommunications services, and 40 per cent in financial and insurance services.

No figures had been provided from the logistics and road freight industries where staff are often, as part of COVID-19 best practice, required to disinfect and sanitise shared facilities from warehouses to mobile equipment.

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents also said their workplace is being cleaned daily. In fact, a higher proportion of those working in the education industry say their workplace is being cleaned every day, at 79 per cent, along with 74 per cent of those in healthcare. This compares with 56 per cent of those in IT, energy and telecommunications, and 54 per cent of those in the building and construction industry.

Despite Safe Work Australia advising workplaces clean frequently touched surfaces – such as counters, door handles, light switches, elevator buttons and taps – at least once daily, a concerning 34 per cent of respondents admit their workplaces are not cleaned that often. Concerningly, more than a fifth (22 per cent) say they have not seen any additional cleaning efforts to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in their workplace.

According to Lisa Macqueen, Co-Founder and Director at Cleancorp it is cause for concern to see such a high number of workplaces asking their own employees to do the cleaning work as many are not implementing daily cleaning practices.

“Given the current climate, cutting corners by using untrained staff and failing to enforce appropriate measures in the workplace can have a devastating impact on your organisation, as it not only opens staff up to the risk of contracting COVID-19, but to injury as well,” she said. “Organisations have a responsibly to keep their staff safe and it is extremely important to hire a professional anti-viral cleaning service to undertake the cleaning of the workplace on a regular basis.”

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