Home cleaners risk assessment to become mandatory in Belgium

Home cleaners risk assessment to become mandatory in Belgium
Credit: Belga

Anyone wanting to hire a home cleaner in Flanders may soon need to undertake a risk assessment for their home, De Standaard reports.

"Working conditions are often unsafe," complain the unions. Cleaners say that they often face a number of occupational hazards, including harmful objects, shaky ladders and toxic cleaning chemicals. However, no efforts have been made to track these risks and prevent them. The ABVV trade union wants this to change.

"A prior visit [to the property] seems logical to us," said unionist Issam Benali. "How else can you guarantee safety as an employer?" Similar recommendations were issued by the External Directorate Supervision of Welfare at Work at the start of the year.

Cleaning service companies regularly fall foul of labour inspectors: out of a total of 175 inspections, 159 written warnings, 19 recommendations and one official report were issued. Notably, inspectors complained of the absence of risk evaluation in the work of home cleaners.

"Employers are not doing enough to ensure the safety of their domestic helpers," the ACV and ABVV unions complain. Meeting with the Flemish Minister for Work Jo Brouns on Thursday, they expressed their concerns. The Minister now wants to force home cleaning companies to conduct an interview before accepting new clients. This may also include a formal risk assessment.

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The unions propose using older domestic cleaners to go ahead of their colleagues to conduct risk assessments. This would include identifying risks such as dangerous staircases, toxic cleaning products and improper equipment.

There are also calls by the unions for improved mandatory health screening of domestic helpers, due to the propensity to injury. This issue will be discussed during a consultation with other ministers in the future.

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