Janitorial Health & Safety

Before focusing on how to maintain proper health and safety practices among the janitorial staff in your building, it's important to understand the necessity of a health and safety risk assessment. This assessment is considered to be a legal requirement in the UK and should be performed when you're planning a cleaning job or project. An assessment such as this one is designed to determine if there are any risks associated with performing the cleaning task.

In the event that any hazards or risks are identified, safety measures must be taken to ensure that the risks are removed or at least reduced until they are at an acceptable level for your cleaning staff. When creating the risk assessment, the amount of details you put into the report depends on the severity of the hazard. If the hazard is a minor one that doesn't take much work to correct, there's no need to put much detail into the assessment. However, more substantial hazards that require larger fixes should be properly addressed in the assessment.

Employing Contractors

When you're bringing in contractors to work on the premises, they need to be provided with comprehensive information that details any of the risks that are currently found on the property. If they are not informed about potential risks, you leave yourself and your company open to liability. It's at this time that the contractors should also be informed about what measures they can take in order to ensure that they remain safe while inside the building.

Hazardous Substances

The most important facet of janitorial health and safety is protection from materials that are deemed to be hazardous. The UK has a Control of Substances Hazardous (COSHH), combined with Health & Safety Regulations that are designed to make sure that staff are kept safe from hazardous materials that they might encounter while working. All of the cleaning and janitorial staff at hand must have a full understanding that certain chemicals used for cleaning can be harmful to the body and can enter the body via the inhalation of vapours, sprays, dust, and gases, absorbing the chemicals through the skin, and ingesting the chemicals by eating or drinking them.

All of the janitorial staff must have extensive training that allows them to:

  • Properly read labels on containers in order to identify any kinds of hazards, which is important to understand if it's dangerous to mix two or more chemicals
  • Use personal protective equipment like masks goggles and gloves while handling any kind of a chemical
  • Use chemicals solely for their main purpose
  • Store chemicals properly in a manner that matches the manufacturer recommendations

The full information about harmful and hazardous chemicals that can be used by the janitorial staff should be available within safety data sheets that are provided by the suppliers. These safety data sheets should provide your cleaning staff with a substantial amount of information that includes:

  • How to properly use a substance or chemical
  • How to store and transport a specific substance
  • If there are any fire hazards or health risks pertaining to the substance
  • Advice on possible first aid or emergency action that could be taken if the chemical is used improperly
  • How to properly dispose of the substance

In any situation where chemicals are being used for the purpose of cleaning, only the janitorial staff should be in the area where the chemicals are being used. All other employees or anyone who uses the building should be kept away from this area. Any possibly dangerous equipment, cleaning products, and chemicals must be used solely by individuals on the janitorial staff who have received the proper training. These staff members must also be supervised while the cleaning is ongoing. The chemicals and equipment that are used for the cleaning projects should always be locked in a storage area when they aren't in use.

There are a wide range of cleaning products and chemicals that are used in the janitorial industry, which include irritants like multi-purpose cleaners. While these cleaners aren't corrosive, heavy amounts of contact with a person's skin can cause harmful health issues, which is why this should be avoided at all times. Whenever corrosive substances are being used, it's important that these substances don't contact the skin. This problem is best avoided by wearing personal protective equipment. When these chemicals do contact the skin, living tissue could be destroyed, which poses serious health risks.

When your cleaning staff are using harmful substances like seal strippers, health problems are possible if the substances are ingested or inhaled. As with corrosive substances, it's also important that harmful substances don't contact the skin and that personal protective equipment is always worn when one of these substances is being handled. There are also times when toxic substances will be used in the course of performing a cleaning project. These substances can include something like white disinfectant. If ever these substances are ingested or inhaled, severe health complications and even death are possible. The same is true if the substance penetrates directly into the skin. Along with the standard wearing of personal protective equipment and avoiding contact with the chemical, all cleaning staff should wear some form of breathing apparatus in order to ensure that exposure to vapours or dust is prevented.

Ensuring Safe Practices While Working

Managers of janitorial staff are required to make sure that all of the staff have received the necessary training that allows them to use janitorial equipment like floor scrubbers, stepladders, and buffers. The members of the cleaning staff should also be encouraged to make use of safe working practices. The safe working practices that the janitorial staff should abide by include:

  • Lifting equipment and supplies properly
  • Using safety warning signs effectively, which can include placing a sign in an area where a spill has occurred
  • Not leaving electrical leads on the building floors
  • Using certain equipment only in the event that they've received the proper instruction and training on how to use the equipment
  • Not tampering with defective equipment
  • Not blocking staircases or fire exits with waste or other equipment
  • To always follow usage guidelines provided by the supplier or manufacturer

Using Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment refers to any kind of equipment that helps to ensure safety when using chemicals and other cleaning items. This can include gloves, goggles, uniforms, and safety shoes. The manager of the janitorial staff must make sure that all members of the janitorial staff have an adequate amount of personal protective equipment on hand. These staff members should also know how to properly use the equipment and what their responsibilities are when handling the equipment. These responsibilities include regularly inspecting the PPE, using the PPE correctly, and only using this equipment when at work.

Slip and Trip Incidents

The problem with cleaning floors is that doing so can heighten the risk of falls, slips, and trips by anyone who walks on the floors in the immediate aftermath of the cleaning. This can be a risk to members of the cleaning staff as well as to anyone else who uses the building, which is something that must be protected against. There are a range of ways in which cleaning the floors of a building can cause such issues. Whether a member of the cleaning staff leaves a corded vacuum cleaner in an area where employees or customers regularly walk or a member performs standard mopping duties, there are a large number of possible causes for these incidents.

In order to safeguard against these incidents, members of the janitorial staff should prevent access to the area until every possible hazard has been removed or at least place warning signs in the immediate vicinity until the floor has dried or the work site has been properly tended to. Members of the cleaning staff should only wear shoes and footwear that have a good amount of traction to them, which should help to prevent slips and falls. This is particularly important in dining areas and kitchens where spills are very common.

Proper Use of Power Equipment and Containers

The members of your janitorial staff will need to be able to carefully use and maintain any electrical equipment that they use. This maintenance can include:

  • Making sure that the equipment is cleaned after every use
  • Checking to ensure that the equipment isn't damaged before using it
  • Replacing any power leads in equipment storage facilities
  • Making sure that power cables aren't strained and are lengthy enough to accommodate their primary uses
  • Checking to ensure that all cables and plugs are in good working condition, which also means that any defective equipment should be removed from the area
  • Adhering to instructions provided by the manufacturer on how to safely use the power equipment

It's possible that managers will also be required to purchase certain cleaning substances and chemicals, which are typically provided in very large containers. These substances will then need to be decanted into containers of a smaller size. If these agents need to be decanted before use, managers must make sure that it's safe to go through the decanting process, that containers are labelled correctly, that no unlabelled container is used, and that chemicals are never placed in containers that aren't labelled.

Setting Up a Proper Janitor Closet

There are several main requirements that are essential when creating a janitor closet, which includes having enough storage space for the cleaning supplies and chemicals, having enough space for the janitorial cart, having a janitorial sink units installed in the room, and having enough floor space to store some of the larger equipment that doesn't fit well on shelves. For instance, the room will need a large amount of floor space if ladders, mop buckets, bucket sinks, vacuum cleaners, steam cleaners, and floor buffers are stored in the room.

The door to the janitor closet should be able to swing out 180 degrees when being opened. The narrow end of the sink should be placed against the far wall of the room with the taps mounted on the specific wall. You might also want to place a wall-mounted bracket on the wall that's situated to the side of the sink, which can be used when drying a mop. The liquid from the mop will fall into the sink, which means that additional cleanup isn't necessary.

The shelves that you select should also be floor-set for better convenience. These shelves should be made from a durable metal and should be adjustable if possible. Standard janitor carts have measurements of 30 inches wide and 48 inches long. If the janitor closet is large enough, you may want to select two carts. With all of these guidelines in mind, you'll be able to create the perfect janitor closet.

Further Information...

Find out more about us and our products by calling us on 01327 311144 or emailing us at sales@die-pat.co.uk

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