Introduction to this document

Safe use of basic cleaning materials

The misuse of basic cleaning materials can prove harmful, leading to skin conditions as well as other forms of ill-health. Where such materials have warning labels on their packaging, they will require a full assessment under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (COSHH). However, this risk assessment deals with the general precautions to be taken when storing, using and disposing of such materials to prevent harm to members of staff who may come into contact with them.

Managing the risks

To help you to identify the common hazards associated with storing, using and disposing of basic cleaning materials and the appropriate ways of controlling them, use our example Risk Assessment - Safe Use of Basic Cleaning Materials. It covers the generic hazards associated with these types of activities and suggests control measures to reduce such risks to an acceptable level. You should ensure that your document only addresses “significant” hazards, i.e. any that could, and more importantly are likely to, cause an accident or injury.

Make your instructions clear

Don’t include activities in your document that simply don’t need to be there. Work to the principle that if there is any chance of your staff being unaware of the safe way of doing something, then you will need to make it clear in your document. Finally, always ensure that any control measures you identify and follow are decided upon the principle of “so far as is reasonably practicable”.


Note. The list of potential hazards is not exhaustive. However, for your risk assessment to be considered suitable and sufficient in the eyes of the law it must accurately reflect the “significant” hazards found when using basic cleaning materials.

Note. This risk assessment only deals with the general risks associated with basic cleaning materials. Where chemical-based cleaning materials are considered to be hazardous, then a separate assessment conducted under COSHH will be needed.