How common are cleaner injuries?
It is particularly difficult to estimate how many cleaners are injured at work. Many domestic and commercial cleaners are self-employed, sub-contractors or casual workers, so injury statistics cannot easily be compiled through employers.
The nature of cleaning work exposes workers to hazardous chemicals, the health effects of which can be cumulative over time. Prolonged exposure can make it more difficult for a cleaner to attribute an injury to a specific period or event.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that most cleaners work for numerous clients, in a variety of properties, in any given period.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is also a risk as cleaning work requires repetitive motions to be carried out - often in difficult physical positions.
Manual handling also poses a risk of injury as cleaners are often expected to carry or move heavy and awkward items.
A risk of slips and trips is also present as wet floors and newly polished surfaces are part of the job.
Cleaners may, unwittingly, find themselves working in hazardous environments. There may be asbestos present in the building or they may be asked to clean up hazardous chemicals.
Cleaning broken glass can result in cuts and lacerations, particularly if suitable protective equipment is not used. Dusty environments can lead to respiratory illness.
What to do if you have been injured while working as a cleaner
Seek immediate medical attention
Your health is the priority. All other steps can be dealt with after you have sought medical attention. Even if you are initially helped by a first aider, you should still visit A&E or your GP, as appropriate.
You should also ask the medical professional for a written record of your visit. The record should include the time and date and details of your injuries, prognosis for recovery, prescriptions, treatments and any other relevant information. Make sure you retain a copy of the medical report as it may be vital evidence, should you decide to make a claim.
Find out more: Key things you need to do when getting medical help for a work injury
We recommend that you don’t rely solely on the official accident book report. As soon as you feel able, you should write down your own account of how your injury or illness happened.
Even a detailed accident book report may miss key points and may not include full details of your injuries. Although unlikely, accident books can go missing or may not have been filed properly in the first place. Ask for a copy of the accident book record of your injury.
You should also ask witnesses for their accounts of the accident. Make a note of their contact details.
Find out more: Gathering evidence after a work injury - checklist
Report your accident
Your employer should also record staff injuries (or anyone injured on company premises) in the company accident book. Accident book records are confidential, and you can, and should, request a copy of your report.
Whatever the circumstances of your work injury, either you or a colleague should inform your manager as soon as possible. The sooner an incident is reported, the more detailed and useful the information recorded in the accident book is likely to be.
Can I claim injury compensation for a cleaning injury?
If you were injured in the last 3 years and someone else was to blame, you may be able to claim financial compensation.
You can make a cleaning injury claim if your accident happened for reasons like:
- You were told to do something that you had not been trained for
- Another worker, contractor or site visitor did something dangerous
- You were not given suitable PPE
- You reacted to hazardous chemical
- You were injured by poor-quality or broken equipment
I am unable to work and need financial help
After an accident at work, you may be able to claim for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) and other benefits, depending on your circumstances.
You may also be able to make a work accident compensation claim. A compensation award will include loss of wages as well as any future anticipated loss of earnings.
If you are unable to meet your living costs after the accident, it may also be possible to get an interim payment in advance of the final claim settlement.
How will my employment status affect my right to claim?
If you are employed and have a valid claim, making a claim against your employer is relatively straightforward. If you are self-employed, working as a cleaner through an agency placement or on a zero-hours contract, a claim may still be possible but the process will be different.
Read more about claiming if you are:
How much can I claim?
The compensation you can claim following an accident at work will depend on what injuries or illness you have suffered, and how serious those injuries are.
The final amount will also factor in:
- What impact the injury or illness has had on your life and ability to work
- Any financial losses or expenses that were caused by your injuries
The Work Accident Advice Centre online calculator sets out what you can claim for, and how much compensation you could claim.
No win, no fee
Legal aid is not available when claiming compensation from an employer. Instead, a cleaner injury compensation claim can be made through a solicitor under a No Win, No Fee agreement.
Under a No Win, No Fee agreement, you pay nothing upfront and nothing at all if you don't win your claim.
If you do win, your solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation after you receive it. Under a No Win, No Fee agreement, a solicitor will receive a success fee of up to 25% of a claimant's compensation.
Compensation awards are, however, increased for claimants on a No Win, No Fee agreement in order to reduce the impact of the success fee.
Our work injury advisors will:
- Offer free, impartial advice
- Explain how No Win, No Fee works
- Recommend the right solicitor