Top Janitorial Safety Tips

Janitorial Safety First sign

It doesn’t matter what type of business you have; janitorial services are critical to a company’s overall success. It is essential to have a clean and hazard-free place of work for both staff and patrons, as failure to do so could result in unfortunate accidents and even hefty citations from The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). With the proper training and taking appropriate precautions to avoid injury, custodial workers can help upkeep a safe and sanitized environment for everyone.

Whether you are a business owner or a custodial worker, here are some top janitorial safety tips from the professionals!

1. Wearing Protective Equipment
One of the most crucial safety tips for janitorial work is wearing the right kind of personal protective equipment (PPE). It might come as no surprise that janitorial work can often be messy or dirty, including cleaning surfaces with germs or collecting trash to be thrown away. Not all custodial work is the same though, and some injuries can come from chemical, electrical, radiological, and mechanical hazards. Wearing personal protective equipment is vital to reduce exposure to potential risks that may cause injury or illness. All PPE should be safely designed and constructed while also being kept clean, maintained, reliable, and properly fitted.

Personal protective equipment, such as gloves, help protect the hands from touching chemicals or risking infections to open wounds, while others like hard hats and earplugs are beneficial to have when working in places such as construction zones. Additional equipment includes safety glasses, work boots, respirators, coveralls, vests, and full bodysuits. Having these items for the right occasion is essential for any janitorial job.

2. Communicate Hazardous Environments
Properly communicating a hazardous environment to those in the vicinity is another important safety tip. The most common one might be displaying a wet floor sign, often used when there is a spill or if the area has been mopped and has not yet dried. This will alert others not to walk where they might slip and fall, causing serious injury.

Some hazards can also come from the cleaning products used, with some chemicals producing toxic vapors, especially in poorly ventilated areas. Wearing a filter mask can help protect against the dangerous fumes these chemicals can create, and those who do not have one should clear out until it is safe to return.

Other common hazards that should be communicated can include falling debris, large holes, blocked pathways, unstable objects, and risk of burns or electrical shock.

3. Safely Handling Chemicals
It is not uncommon for custodial staff to purchase concentrated chemicals to later dilute as needed for cleaning as it is both cost effective and allows for longer lasting solutions. But if done improperly, it can result in either a too-weak or too-strong product. If not enough water is added, the cleaning solution can create those toxic vapors mentioned earlier. If too much water is added, the solution will not be potent enough to properly rid surfaces of harmful germs and bacteria, allowing them to linger and spread illness. Only trained janitorial staff should handle and dilute any chemicals used when cleaning.

Janitors should also accurately label each chemical, catalog where they are safely stored and used, identify their potential hazards, and never mix any of them together even if they are of the same kind. This helps ensure their intended use if others also have access to using them. When solutions or concentrates are no longer viable, they should be safely disposed of, which is usually specified and each bottle’s label.

4. Adhering to the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard
There may be occasions when janitorial staff have to clean up bodily fluids like blood, biohazard waste, or handle potentially contaminated objects. By following the OSHA standard, it can be done safely by a trained professional. This policy outlines the correct procedures that should be taken in these types of situations, and failure to learn or abide by them can lead to a OSHA citation.

5. Train to Use Heavy Machinery
Some janitorial tools like industrial vacuums can be dangerous to operate if not trained to do so, which often results in injury. If you find yourself having to use heavy machinery, you should first learn how to handle and work with them safely and familiarize yourself with similar ones to avoid any accidents.

6. Use Proper Lifting Techniques
A common injury among janitorial workers is back injuries, which is typically the result of improperly lifting and lowering objects. Workers should train and practice the right body form when it comes to lifting, which involves bending your hips and knees to squat and then straightening your legs to come up. Never bend forward and avoid twisting and turning when you are holding a heavy object.

7. Use Caution With Electrical Equipment
Always thoroughly examine electrical cords on all equipment before attempting to use it. Failure to do so could result in electrical shocks or even create fire hazards. If the tools or machinery you are going to be using has any frayed or damaged cords, it is best to avoid using them until they can be properly fixed or replaced.

Safety is the top priority for janitorial work, and as long as workers stick to their training and follow procedures correctly, they can create a safe environment for everyone. Use these janitorial safety tips as a resource for your company, but if you are looking for a professional commercial company that values safety, talk to the professionals at Coverall PCS!