September 06

The Primary Health Hazards In The Custodial Workplace

Facility cleaning and maintenance crews come across a wide variety of health hazards in the workplace. They range from risks that can cause physical pain from ergonomic hazards to risks that are more chemical that can cause serious illness. Recognizing the risks is the first step in being able to efficiently mitigate them.

The main types of health hazards that janitors and custodians face include:

Biological Hazards
Examples of biological hazards include infectious bacteria, viral bacteria, toxic molds, fungi, and bacteria. Biological agents can cause infections, allergies, poisoning, and toxic effects.

Toxic Chemicals
Examples of toxic chemicals include toxic liquids, toxic solids (dust), toxic fumes (mists and vapors), and toxic gases. Many of the toxic chemicals are included in the cleaning supplies that janitors and custodians use daily.

Physical Agents
Physical agents include noise, vibration, heat, sunlight, ergonomic risks, and radiation.

Poor Air Quality
Poor air quality is caused by inadequate ventilation, high temperatures, and humidity. Toxic air contaminants can include molds that can cause respiratory infections. Also, emissions from old furniture and flooring materials can cause poor air quality.

Psychological Stress
Stress caused by lack of training and communication, poor work organization, technological changes without appropriate staff training and orientation, overexertion and negative work environment.

The combination of biological hazards, toxic chemicals, physical agents, poor air quality, and psychological stress add up to present a fair amount of risk that is faced by facility cleaning workers day in and day out. Knowing the severity of these risks and actively taking the proper precautions to defend employees against these risks is one of the most effective forms of risk management. The nature of accidents, however, is that they will still happen even when every precaution is taken. Should one occur, it’s important to have an insurance program in place that is designed with the specific needs of facility cleaning crews in mind.

For more information, visit MaintenancePro.

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