A Guide to Safe Practice in Art & Design

4.15   Cleaning

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992) and Approved Code of Practice have significant implications for the cleaning of rooms where art activities take place. Risk assessments must be made and due regard taken of the COSHH Regulations concerning cleaning materials. Cleaning staff must be made aware of safety requirements.

In contrast to the organisation of cleaning services, which are part of whole school management, the daily routines that should apply to classrooms and studios are largely the responsibility of the teacher in charge. Common sense is again the best guide. Clean working conditions are part of the general environment needed for good teaching and learning.

Pupils should be taught that cleaning up, care of tools and equipment, and respect for materials are an essential part of safe and efficient practice in art, crafts and design activities. As far as possible pupils should be encouraged to assume responsibility for clearing their own work space. The aim should be to reach a stage where they do it automatically as soon as they complete their work.

Clay and materials such as plaster create particular problems. Unless the cleaning is done thoroughly, residues will accumulate and clay dust will eventually become a health hazard. A good system is to ensure that pupils wipe down work surfaces thoroughly after use or, in general teaching rooms, that the surfaces are properly covered with newspaper or other disposable material.

Dry sweeping of floors in ceramics studios should be avoided. In rooms where clay has been used, it is recommended that floors should be washed or damp-cleaned and vacuumed using an approved industrial wet/dry vacuum cleaner. Any clay dropped on the floor should be removed as soon as possible and the floor checked at the end of each session.

All glaze and slip buckets should be wiped down after use and lids washed. Everything used during a lesson should be washed at the end of the session, including tools, cloths, stools, wedging slabs, wheels and so on.