How to minimize health risks in your building?
Learn more about common hazards that can lead to civil liability suits.
Organic waste can produce spores and fungi, while chemical waste can cause cancer or respiratory or skin lesions. Chemicals, biomedical waste, and other hazardous materials such as ammonia or bleach-based products should therefore be disposed of properly—and never along with regular household waste.
Waste must be kept isolated in a room with the minimum fire-resistance rating to contain fires. The temperature should also be controlled to slow decomposition and control foul odours. The room must be regularly cleaned and disinfected. It goes without saying that waste must be removed regularly.
Waste is usually stored outside. It’s a good idea to place the container a safe distance from the building to prevent risks from accidental or intentional fires.
Mould and the toxins it produces can cause a variety of health problems, including respiratory and skin conditions. Mould grows in warm, humid environments containing the right nutrients. It can’t grow in dry conditions.
High humidity can be caused by:
- Plumbing leaks
- Water seepage from outside. Damaged to the building structure can cause leaks at ground level or through the walls or roof
- Inadequate ventilation
The best way to prevent unwelcome guests such as insects and other vermin from making an appearance is to take strict sanitary measures. For example,
- Make sure all exterior doors have screens in good condition.
- Install appropriate traps for flying insects.
- Eliminate these unwelcome guests permanently and safety by hiring a pest control firm.
Dry food storage areas must be appropriate, clean and in good condition. It’s also a good idea to go above and beyond maintenance and hygiene regulations required for other products:
- Expired food
- Signs of vermin
- Dust, rubbish, or waste accumulation
- Damaged containers or containers without lids
- Spills (risk of contamination or vermin)
- Inadequate separation (e.g., food storage must be separated from prep areas because when boxes or packages are opened, staples could get into the food being prepared)
- High humidity
- Inadequate ventilation or unsuitable temperatures
- Water leakage (roof, ceiling, ground, pipes, equipment, etc.)
Make sure perishable foods that require refrigeration or freezing are stored appropriately. They must be kept at the correct temperature. Regularly tested thermometers can quickly detect any failure in the refrigeration system.
- Prepare foods such as meats and dairy products in a temperature-controlled environment to prevent rapid spoilage and contamination. Cold preparation areas must also be entirely separate from preparation areas for hot food.
- Use work surfaces and equipment made of stainless steel, which is corrosion-resistant and easy to keep clean. Wood is porous and harder to clean, so it presents a higher risk of contamination.
- Avoid risks related to food allergies by preventing cross contamination. Thoroughly clean all work surfaces and equipment that have come in contact with potentially allergenic ingredients.
- Require food preparation staff to wear an appropriate hair net to cover hair, beards, and moustaches. They must not wear jewellery in food prep areas.
- Enforce strict personal hygiene, which includes frequent hand washing, especially after using the washroom.
- Rooms should be wheelchair accessible.
- Keep these areas clean and sanitary by disinfecting them daily to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
- Make sure lidded metal garbage containers are available and emptied regularly.
- Provide adequate heating and ventilation for user comfort.
- Install non-slip flooring to prevent accidental falls caused by wet floors. Alternatively, consider installing rubber mats in high-risk areas.
- Place “Caution – slippery floor” signs in areas being cleaned or where there is a risk of a fall.
- Ensure benches and other furniture don’t have wood splinters that can cause slivers. Check them regularly to promptly identify and eliminate nails or screws that might be sticking out.
- Only use safety glass in shower stalls or bathtubs.
- Install ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets to plug in electrical appliances.
- Washrooms with automatic-flush urinals must also be equipped with floor drains.
- There must be at least one sink in washrooms with one or two toilets or urinals. Install at least one more sink for every two additional toilets or urinals.
Pay particular attention to keeping fitness facilities clean and well maintained to prevent the spread of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or Staph A, and reduce the risk of infectious disease spread via materials and accessories.
Equipment and machines
- Equipment and machines must also be installed, maintained, and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Run-down, broken, or poorly maintained equipment can be dangerous. Make sure all equipment and machines undergoes a visual inspection every day to avoid injuries. Pay particular attention to load-bearing parts such as screws, bolts, and cables that support weights.
Instructions such as the following should be posted where necessary:
- Athletic shoes, pants/ shorts, and T-shirts (no tank-tops) must be worn.
- Boots, coats, and sports bags must be kept in lockers or the changing room.
- Towels must be laid on machine seats or benches and damp surfaces must be wiped down after use.
Water analyses and maintenance
- Make sure pools, spas, and whirlpools are clean and safe. To prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria, viruses, and mildew, they must be sanitized regularly using automated equipment to maintain safe chemical levels.
- Make sure water is tested at least daily and record the test results.
- Some chemical products used to maintain pools, spas, and whirlpools are corrosive. It’s therefore important to check the products’ material data safety sheets to find out about any dangers, warnings and specific precautions. The safety sheet can also tell you how to deal with spills and splatters, and what to do if the product is accidentally ingested.
- To prevent any harmful chemical reactions, chemical products must be stored in a dry place away from organic or combustible materials.
Temperature of a spa or whirlpool
- Spa water temperatures should be kept at safe and comfortable levels and should never exceed 40°C. It’s important to check the temperature regularly, and heaters and thermostats must not be accessible to users.
- Perform sanitation treatments to reduce the quantity of micro-organisms and bacteria.
Power outlets and electrical equipment must not be installed within 1.5 m of pools, spas or whirlpools.
Check out our other prevention fact sheets:
Follow our tips to optimize the performance of your heating system and slash your heating costs!
The more customers you have, the more likely an incident will occur…
Want to learn more?
See our complete list of prevention fact sheets.
In collaboration with
JEAN-JACQUES FOURNEL, safety expert
The information in this fact sheet is of a general nature and is provided for information purposes only. It is not exhaustive. Any action taken after reading this fact sheet should be carried out safely and, if necessary, by an experienced and authorized person.