Background

Housekeep is a technology provider connecting clients and cleaners in the UK home cleaning industry. Housekeep helps clients find trusted, local cleaners whilst assisting those cleaners with finding dense, local client routes. Over 1,000,000 cleans have been completed through the platform.

Introduction

  • Housekeep is committed to ensuring the safety of all our community, including our customers, our Housekeepers and our staff
  • We’ve worked alongside the Government, including Public Health England and the Health & Safety Executive, to draft safety guidelines for work in people’s homes (published here)
  • We’ve also consulted with customers and Housekeepers to gather their input
  • We’re committed to transparency and are publishing a specific COVID-19 risk assessment for cleaning in homes, which is in additional to other risk and health & safety measures we take
  • We’ve published a summary version of these guidelines to customers and to Housekeepers, plus provided a link to this detailed guidance
  • We’ve sought to use references to avoid repetition and to make this easy for anyone to read and understand
  • We will update this risk assessment regularly based on updated government or public health guidance
  • We welcome feedback and suggestions for improvement at any time. Please contact us at marketing@housekeep.com.

Thinking about risk

Section Government guidance Housekeep mitigating guidelines & actions
1.0 Objective: To reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures, in order of priority We’ve carried out this risk assessment and sought to reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. We’re also sharing this risk assessment with customers, Housekeepers and publicly, and inviting comments.
1.1.1 No work should be carried out in a household which is isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield - unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household or to public safety. Customers & Housekeepers should skip cleans or pause their account if anybody in their home has coronavirus symptoms, has been advised to self-isolate, or has been advised to shield.
1.1.2 When working in a household where somebody is clinically vulnerable, but has not been asked to shield, for example, the home of someone over 70, prior arrangements should be made with vulnerable people to avoid any face-to-face contact, for example, when answering the door. You should be particularly strict about handwashing, coughing and sneezing hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth and disposing of single-use tissues.

Vulnerable customers can only book cleans if they have not been advised to shield (i.e. they’re not extremely clinically vulnerable).

Vulnerable customers should take extra care in observing social distancing, for example isolating themselves to a single room while their Housekeeper is working, or scheduling the clean for a time when they are not at home.

1.1.3 Washing your hands more often than usual for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose. Housekeepers should thoroughly wash their hands with warm water & soap for 20 seconds, before, during and after their cleans, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing their nose.
1.1.4 Reducing the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue and throw the tissue in a bin immediately, then wash your hands. Housekeepers should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not their hands) when coughing or sneezing. Housekeepers should put used tissues in a covered bin immediately, then wash their hands with warm water & soap for 20 seconds.
1.1.5 Cleaning regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

Housekeepers should pay extra attention to 'high-touch' areas, such as; door and cupboard handles, light switches, TV remotes, tables, countertops. These surfaces should be cleaned using regular products, then disinfected using a product that 'kills 99.9% of germs' such as Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleaner Spray.

Housekeepers should use warm water (not hot or cold) when cleaning surfaces and mopping floors, to maximise the effectiveness of cleaning products.

Housekeepers should avoid shaking dirty laundry & soft furnishings such as bath mats and rugs.

Housekeepers and customers should wash cleaning cloths and mop heads at the highest recommended temperature (40C+) after every use.

1.1.6 Communicating with households prior to any visit to discuss how the work will be carried out to minimise risk for all parties.

Housekeep will notify customers and Housekeepers via email and other methods in advance about scheduled cleans.

Housekeepers and customers can fully manage their cleaning schedules via digital tools (e.g. app, online account).

Housekeepers and customers can communicate directly using the chat or call features in the customer’s online account and the Housekeeper App. They can also communicate with head office through digital channels including chat and email.

1.1.7 Maintaining social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) as far as possible.

Customers and Housekeepers should maintain social distancing at all times (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

Where possible, customers should stay in another room while their Housekeeper is working, or schedule the clean for a time when they are not at home.

1.2 Share your risk assessment We have done this via email, our website and this page.

Who should go to work

Section Government guidance Housekeep mitigating guidelines & actions
2.0

Objective: Employers should ensure workplaces are safe for anyone who cannot work from home.

It is recognised that for providers of in-home services, it is often not possible to work from home.

Housekeepers cannot practically work from home.
2.0.1 Finding digital or remote alternatives to physical, in-home work where possible such as video or phone consultations. Not applicable.
2.0.2 Discussing working environment and practices with householders and clients in advance to confirm how the work will be carried out, if a physical visit is needed. See 1.1.6.
2.0.3 Employers and agencies should keep in touch with workers, who they might usually meet with face-to-face, on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security.

Housekeep will send regular updates on working arrangements and ways of working to both Housekeepers and customers.

Housekeepers can contact Housekeep via telephone, chat or email anytime if they need support, whether about work, mental health or any other aspect of their wellbeing.

Housekeep is also proactively reaching out to gather feedback individually and collectively. Further, we are providing advice about support schemes that might be available, such as the SEISS, Universal Credit and ESA.

Housekeep will use simple, clear messaging to explain guidelines to Housekeepers and customers.

2.1 Objective: To support those who are at a higher risk of infection and/or an adverse outcome if infected.
  • Providing support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include advice or telephone support.
  • See current guidance for advice on who is in the clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups.

We are asking Housekeepers to pause working and not attend cleans if they are clinically vulnerable, clinically extremely vulnerable, shielding or need to self-isolate, or if anyone in their home is in such a group.

See 2.0.3 for support we’re providing to Housekeepers.

2.2 Objective: To make sure individuals who are advised to stay at home under existing government guidance to stop infection spreading do not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19, those who live in a household or are in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms and those who are advised to self isolate as part of the government's test and trace service.
  • By law, from 28 September employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
  • Enabling workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate.
  • See current guidance for employees and employers relating to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19.
  • Ensuring any workers who have symptoms of COVID-19 - a high temperature, new and persistent cough or anosmia - however mild, should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when the symptoms started. Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken. Where a worker has tested positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develop symptoms during the isolation period, they should restart the 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms developed. This only applies to those who begin their isolation on or after 30 July.
  • See current guidance for people who have symptoms and those who live with others who have symptoms.
  • Ensuring any workers who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace follows the requirement to self-isolate. See current guidance for those who have been in contact with, but do not live with, a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
See 2.1 and 2.0.3.
2.3.1 Objective: To make sure that nobody is discriminated against.
  • Understanding and taking into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics.
  • Involving and communicating appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or might make any steps you are thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them.
  • Considering whether you need to put in place any particular measures or adjustments to take account of your duties under the equalities legislation.
  • Making reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage, and assessing the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.
  • Making sure that the steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example, those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.
We treat everyone in our community with respect and fairness. We do not gather much of this special category data so do not see any additional discrimination risks here.

Social distancing at work

Section Government guidance Housekeep mitigating guidelines & actions
3.0 Objective: Ensuring workers maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable), wherever possible, including arriving at and departing from work, while in work and when travelling between sites. Housekeep is recommending that cleans only go ahead where social distancing can be maintained, and that Housekeepers seek to travel by private transport. Housekeepers typically work in single-person teams. Further details are below.
3.1 Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, including on arrival and departure and to ensure handwashing upon arrival. See below.
3.1.1 Consider travelling to sites alone using your own transport, where insurance allows

Housekeep’s technology helps Housekeepers to find local clients, minimising travel time. We recommend walking, cycling or driving to clients, and where public transport is necessary; to avoid peak travel times. Our technology is also asking customers to choose flexible time slots which allows Housekeepers to avoid peak travel times.

Housekeepers should use a face covering if they do use public transport.

Housekeepers attending recurring cleans and normal one-off visits, work individually. Housekeepers should not take any other person (including children) with them to cleans, unless agreed with their customer.

3.1.2 If workers have no option but to travel together, for example delivery teams, the following should be encouraged: Housekeepers typically work and work in single-person teams. There are some occasions, such as via deep cleaning partners, where teams might work together. See below for details.
3.1.2.1 Journeys should be with the same individuals and limited in the number of people travelling per vehicle. When travelling to deep cleans, partners should minimise team size and limit the number of people travelling per vehicle, travelling separately where possible.
3.1.2.2 Maintaining good ventilation, for example keeping windows open and passengers facing away from one another to reduce risk of transmission. When travelling to deep cleans in vehicles, partners should open vehicle windows for ventilation, and do their best to observe social distancing, including facing away from one another where possible.
3.1.2.3 Vehicles regularly cleaned using gloves and standard cleaning products, with emphasis on handles and other areas where passengers may touch surfaces. Housekeepers or deep cleaning partners should travel to cleans in their own vehicle, and should regularly clean it using gloves and standard cleaning products, with an emphasis on handles and other areas where passengers may touch surfaces.
3.1.2.4 Where possible, employers or agencies should match workers to households local to them to minimise transportation. When customers book a regular clean, they are matched with the same local Housekeeper for every visit.
3.1.2.5 Wash hands on arrival and maintain social distancing when entering the home. See 1.1.3.
3.1.2.6 See government guidance on travelling to and from work. See 3.1.1.
3.2 Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible while performing work in the home. See below. These points have been communicated to customers and to Housekeepers, plus are integrated in email notifications, the Housekeeper App and the customer online account.
3.2.1 Discussing with households ahead of a visit to ask that social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable) are maintained between workers and householders, if possible. See 1.1.7.
3.2.2 Asking that households leave all internal doors open to minimise contact with door handles. Customers should leave all internal doors open to minimise Housekeeper contact with door handles.
3.2.3 Identifying busy areas across the household where people travel to, from or through, for example, stairs and corridors, and minimising movement within these areas. Customers and Housekeepers should minimise movement in corridors and stairs while the Housekeeper is working.
3.2.4 Bringing your own food and drink to households and having breaks outside where possible. Housekeepers should bring their own food and drink to cleans, and take any breaks outside where possible.
3.2.5 Limiting the number of workers within a confined space to maintain social distancing. See 3.1.2.
3.2.6 Using a fixed pairing system if people have to work in close proximity. For example, during two-person assembly or maintenance. See 3.1.2.
3.2.7 Allocating the same workers to a household where jobs are repetitive. Employers and agencies should introduce fixed pairing to have the same individuals allocated to a household where jobs are repetitive in nature. See 3.1.2.4.
3.3 Objective: To reduce transmission due to face-to-face meetings and maintain social distancing in meetings. See below.
3.3.1 Using remote working tools to avoid in-person appointments. Not applicable.
3.3.2 Only absolutely necessary participants should physically attend appointments and should maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable, is acceptable). See 1.1.7 & 3.1.2.4.
3.3.3 Avoiding transmission during appointments, for example, from sharing pens and other objects. Customers and Housekeepers should wash their hands before and after handling any cleaning products provided by the customer, including; sprays, cloths, vacuum cleaners & mops.
3.3.4 Holding meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible. Housekeepers and customers should open windows where possible and turn on extractor fans for ventilation.
3.4 Objective: To prioritise safety during incidents. In an emergency, customers and Housekeepers do not have to comply with social distancing guidelines if it would be unsafe. They should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards, including washing hands.

Interacting with householders

Section Government guidance Housekeep mitigating guidelines & actions
4.0 Objective: To make sure people understand what they need to do to maintain safety.
  • If you are an employer or agency, providing your workers with information about how to operate safely in people’s homes
  • Communicating with households prior to arrival, and on arrival, to ensure the household understands the social distancing and hygiene measures that should be followed once work has commenced.
See this document, and particularly 1.1.6.

Cleaning the work area

Section Government guidance Housekeep mitigating guidelines & actions
5.0 Objective: To keep work areas in a home clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces. Housekeepers are in the home to conduct this cleaning.
5.1.1 Objective: To keep work areas in a home clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.
  • Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your usual cleaning products.
  • Arranging methods of safely disposing waste with the householder.
  • Removing all waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift and at the end of a job.
  • If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of coronavirus then you should refer to the specific guidance.
  • Maintaining good ventilation in the work environment, for example keeping windows or doors open.
  • Using non recycling bins to dispose of single use face coverings and PPE. You should refer to guidance for information on how to dispose of personal or business waste, including face coverings and PPE.

See 1.1.5 & 3.3.4.

Customers should ensure that the ‘cleaning instructions’ in their online account are up to date, including the location of the bins. At the end of a clean, Housekeepers should dispose of the household waste in the location stated in their App. Housekeepers should also ensure they take all belongings with them and dispose of any single-use PPE in a non-recycling bin.

Customers should book a deep clean after a known or suspected case of coronavirus, and should make Housekeep aware of the possible contamination at the time of booking. Housekeep will send a specialist team for these cleans.

5.2.1 Objective: To help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day.
  • Washing your hands more often than usual for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.
  • Reducing the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands. Throw the tissue in a bin immediately, then wash your hands.
  • Cleaning regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
  • If handwashing facilities are not accessible, you should carry hand sanitiser.

See 1.1.3, 1.1.4 & 1.1.5.

Where no handwashing facilities are available (e.g. on public transport), we recommend Housekeepers should carry and use hand sanitiser.

5.3.1 Objective: To reduce transmission through contact with objects that come into or are removed from the home.
  • Ensuring social distancing and hygiene measures are followed when supplies or tools are needed to be delivered to a home, for example building supplies.
  • Collecting materials in bulk to reduce the frequency of needing to visit shops to buy or collect materials.
  • Removing waste in bulk if possible.
Customers or Housekeepers should sanitise spare keys where they are being transferred from one party to another. Otherwise, not applicable.

PPE and face coverings

Section Government guidance Housekeep mitigating guidelines & actions
6.0

Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

Housekeepers should remove shoes, or wear shoe covers when at cleans, and should use disposable or machine washable gloves when at cleans. Disposable gloves and shoe covers are available for free from the Housekeep office.
6.1

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and in a number of indoor premises.

People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off.

Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and before and after removing it.
  • When wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands.
  • Change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it.
  • Continue to wash your hands regularly.
  • Change and wash your face covering daily.
  • If the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste.
  • Practise social distancing wherever possible.

Housekeepers should wear face coverings when it is required, such as on public transport. Housekeepers are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, when it is not possible to practice social distancing. Social distancing should be observed at cleans, so Housekeepers do not need to wear a face covering during the clean. Housekeepers can wear a face covering during the clean if they prefer. Customers can request that their Housekeeper wears a mask during cleans, by requesting this in the 'cleaning instructions' in their online account.

We’re directly passing on the government’s advice on face coverings to Housekeepers.

Workforce management

Section Government guidance Housekeep mitigating guidelines & actions
7.1.1 Objective: To change the way work is organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each worker has.
  • Where multiple workers are in a home, creating fixed teams of workers who carry out their duties in those teams, and minimising contact between each team.
  • Identifying areas where people need to hand things to each other (such as shared tools and domestic appliances) and finding ways to remove direct contact, for example, by using drop-off points or transfer zones.
  • Allocating the same worker to the same household each time there is a visit, for example, the same cleaner each time.
  • You should assist the Test and Trace service by keeping a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks.

See 3.1 for details.

When required, Housekeep will schedule in-office key transfers in such a way that Housekeepers can avoid rush-hour traffic, and minimise contact with other Housekeepers.

When Housekeepers are booked for an in-office key transfer, they should attend this transfer at the scheduled time.

Housekeep will keep a record of staff shift patterns to assist NHS Test and Trace if needed.

7.1.2 Objective: To provide guidance in an event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.
  • As part of your risk assessment, you should ensure you have an up to date plan in case there is a COVID-19 outbreak. This plan should nominate a single point of contact (SPOC) where possible who should lead on contacting local Public Health teams.
  • If there is more than one case of COVID-19 associated with your place of work, you should contact your local PHE health protection team to report the suspected outbreak.
  • If the local PHE health protection team declares an outbreak, you will be asked to record details of symptomatic staff and assist with identifying contacts. You should therefore ensure all employment records are up to date. You will be provided with information about the outbreak management process, which will help you to implement control measures, assist with communications to staff, and reinforce prevention messages.

Housekeep has a plan for what to do in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace. In this scenario, Housekeep's single point of contact for PHE is Lisa Pirrett (hello@housekeep.com).

7.2 Objective: To avoid unnecessary work-related travel and keep workers safe when they do need to travel between homes.
  • Follow the social distancing guidelines outlined in Section 2.1 –‘Coming to and leaving a home for work’.
  • Where workers need to move between different homes and locations to complete their work, social distancing and hygiene advice should be considered, especially before entering other homes.
  • Walking or cycling where possible. Where not possible, you can use public transport or drive. You must wear a face covering when using public transport.
  • Where workers are required to stay away from their residence, making sure any overnight accommodation meets social distancing guidelines.

See 1.1 and 2.1.

There are no overnight stays.

7.3.1 Objective: To make sure all workers understand COVID-19 related safety procedures.
  • Providing clear, consistent and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of ways of working amongst your workers.
  • Engaging with workers and worker representatives through existing communication routes to explain and agree any changes in working arrangements.
See 2.0.3.
7.3.2 Objective: To make sure all workers are kept up to date with how safety measures are being implemented or updated.
  • Ongoing engagement with workers, (including through trades unions or employee representative groups) to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments.
  • Awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Using simple, clear messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language, with consideration of groups for which English may not be their first language.
  • Communicating approaches and operational procedures to households to help their adoption before work commences.
See 2.0.3.

Deliveries to the home

Section Government guidance Housekeep mitigating guidelines & actions
8.0 Objective: To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave a home.
  • Minimising contact during deliveries wherever possible.
  • Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles.
  • Where possible, using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed.
  • Minimising the contact during delivery, for example, by calling to inform of your arrival rather than ringing the doorbell.
  • Minimising the contact during payments and exchange of documentation, for example, using electronic payment methods and electronically signed and exchanged documents.

Not applicable.

Customer billing and Housekeeper payments are all electronic, including tips.

Updated: 5 November 2020, following updated government guidance (published here).