When facilities are not properly cleaned, everyone from building visitors to your own staff faces risks. In fact, many custodians perform their jobs without proper protection every day. These lapses in safety may lead to serious illnesses and, potentially, lawsuits brought against a company when custodians become sick or suffer injury on the job. Employee health should be a top priority in every workplace.
Employee Risks on the Job
Since the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002, the risk of contracting illnesses on the job has become an even more prominent concern for cleaning professionals, equipment manufacturers, and building managers alike. The risks for slip-and-fall accidents have always existed. Yet many other diseases can be hiding in restroom sinks, toilets, stall doors, and similar touch points that seem harmless at first. Hepatitis A, hepatitis C, and other viruses have the potential to impact custodians in any region, leading to serious disease outbreaks.
In fact, a story of one cleaning worker contracting hepatitis A reveals how easily the disease can impact a cleaning professional in the wrong set of circumstances. Restrooms in daycare facilities are often the breeding ground for a virus like this one, and hepatitis A kept the man bedridden for several months. He blamed his illness on a lack of education and the uniform he wore—two factors that employers might better address in order to protect their employees from on-the-job risks. Without protective gloves and clear procedures for washing hands and disposing of materials after cleaning, employees may come into contact with viruses like this.
Protecting Employee Health Effectively
Many of these serious illnesses can be passed without human-to-human contact, which means they can be left in restrooms and other places your team cleans daily. Touch points where germs live require attention from custodians multiple times during the day.
When your crew is cleaning, they should wear puncture-resistant gloves and avoid touching any area with dirty gloves because they could be carrying dangerous bacteria. Employees should also observe the proper "dwell time" when using cleaning chemicals in order to get the full benefits from the products. Finally, when gloves are safely removed, washing hands in warm or hot water is an essential last step.
Of course, there are better ways to clean that do not involve getting "hands on": no-touch cleaning systems. Using spray-and-vac systems that dispense chemicals automatically and then wash away soils and bacteria with a powerful stream of water, custodians can protect themselves and building visitors more effectively. When the cleaning of each room is complete, custodians dispose of the waste in sinks or toilets, ensuring there is no potential for cross-contamination or passing along viruses.
Take employee health risks seriously when you are managing a building's cleaning operation. Have the protective gear custodians need to stay safe, and instruct each employee on the proper cleaning procedures.
Click here for more information about how no-touch cleaning systems can help prevent disease.