IPC1 Minimise the risks of spreading infection by cleaning and maintaining environments in health and social care settings


This standard concerns minimising the risks of spreading infection by cleaning and maintaining environments in health and social care settings, including community and domiciliary settings, and ambulance vehicles, but not including specialised settings, such as laboratories, pharmacies, or operating theatres, where more specialised methods may be required. The standard focuses specifically on activities for infection prevention and control, and it should be used alongside relevant health and safety policies, including national and local policies and other relevant standards. Health and social care settings contain a diversity of microorganisms. Areas can become contaminated with blood, other body fluids and skin dispersal during care delivery which can become reservoirs for microorganisms that are harmful to individuals who are susceptible to infection. Extra care must be taken when cleaning the environment to minimise these risks.

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 1

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:

  1. relevant standard infection control precautions legislation and policies
  2. health and safety regulations covering your area of work
  3. COSHH regulations concerning hazardous substances
  4. the chain of infection
  5. how to access facilities for hand hygiene
  6. cleaning schedules and other occasions when cleaning should be carried out
  7. cleaning machinery and equipment
  8. techniques for maintaining hand hygiene
  9. the appropriate personal protective equipment to use when cleaning different spillages or working in different environments
  10. how to safely put on, remove and dispose of personal protective equipment
  11. the uses, dilutions, methods of application, storage, transportation and safe disposal of detergents and disinfectants used to deal with spillages
  12. how to segregate different categories of waste
  13. the different colour-coded bags and waste containers available and the correct use of each
  14. how to distinguish between single-use, single-patient use, and reusable equipment and how to dispose of them, or launder/clean or store them, safely
  15. your own role and responsibilities, and the responsibilities of others
  16. how to complete the records required in your area of activity
  17. how to report adverse events, accidents and incidents
  18. how and when to report issues that are outside your job role

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:

  1. Carry out cleaning:
    1. on a routine, scheduled basis, following national and local procedures
    2. when the environment is visibly dirty, or as required
    3. immediately following a spillage of body fluids
    4. whenever a patient/client is discharged or transferred from their care environment, to ensure the environment is safe to receive the next patient/client
  2. Consider the potential risk of exposure of yourself and others to infectious microorganisms, before and during each activity you undertake
  3. Use appropriate personal protective equipment for the activity, and carry out hand hygiene before and after the activity
  4. Use cleaning agents recommended by standard infection control precautions, and follow the manufacturers’ instructions for use
  5. Ensure your cleaning equipment is clean, fit for purpose, appropriately colour coded, in a good state of repair, and is stored in a clean, dry, designated place
  6. Ensure all areas are thoroughly cleaned and free from dust and grime, paying particular attention to
    1. all upward-facing surfaces
    2. those areas that are frequently touched or used
    3. areas that are hard to reach and may be overlooked in routine cleaning
    4. sanitary areas
  7. Dispose of spent or unused cleaning solutions safely in a designated area
  8. Where items (such as chairs, mattresses or furnishings) are split, torn or damaged, report them, and remove them for repair or replacement, as they represent an increased infection risk
  9. Seek advice from your manager or from Infection Control staff if you are asked to clean environments where specific infections or microorganisms are known to be present, or where another adverse incident has occurred
  10. Report to your manager any issues arising in relation to
    1. any problems with facilities or supplies
    2. infection risks or hazards that are beyond your responsibility to handle
  11. Complete cleaning records and schedules accurately and promptly as required by local policies

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health, in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing and Health Protection Scotland.

This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004):

This Dimension: Core 3 Health, safety and security
IPC1 Minimise the risks of spreading infection by cleaning and maintaining environments in health and social care settings
Final version approved June 2010 © copyright Skills For Health
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