Maintaining your custodial handbook will help keep your employees safe and your business out of trouble.
Having a custodial handbook is more than just a formality. These manuals contain essential information about your cleaning policies, safety protocol, legislated protocol, and a host of other things that are important for you and your employees to know. Without one, you may find yourself struggling to enforce policies or worse—you may have trouble if a lawsuit comes your way.
A custodial handbook doesn’t save you from employee relations issues or potential legal action, but it does serve as an important document for your business because it defines expectations. If you require all employees to read it at the start of employment, whether they do or not, you’ll have covered yourself should a dispute of some sort arise.
4 Tips for creating an ideal custodial handbook
1. Contents and compliance
Inside a custodial handbook, you should find several topics. Common sections include cleaning procedures, OSHA regulations, equipment policies, safety, job descriptions, and quality assurance. You may also include sections on employee policies, including wages, benefits, conduct, and more.
While most of these sections won’t cover specific regulations, some of them, such as cleaning procedures and OSHA regulations, do have rules that you need to follow at all times. These are the sections that are most important to maintain, ideally on a quarterly basis.
Also keep in mind that any policies within your handbook do need to comply with federal, state, and local laws. This includes any information about wage practices, sick leave, handling of hazardous materials, and safety practices.
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2. Keeping it current
Generally, a human resources department or a legal department will update and maintain the custodial handbook. However, if you run a smaller operation, you may relegate the task to an office manager or even undertake it yourself. Regardless of who is in charge, it’s important that person reviews the policies and stays current on changes to legislation that may require an updated handbook.
Of course, to keep it updated, you have to know where to find current information. The OSHA website is a great place to stay on top of federal regulations regarding health and safety in the workplace. You can also learn about changes to custodial protocol by reading trade magazines, talking to other people in the business, surfing the web, or checking in with legal counsel.
Speaking of legal counsel, you don’t *need* to have an attorney write or review your handbook. However, since the contents of the handbook can be used to help resolve legal disputes, it’s a good idea to have someone with a background in law to at least give your custodial handbook a once-over. When possible, it’s also best to have an attorney write the handbook since they know what language to use, what can and cannot be said, and what should and should not be said.
3. Where to begin
Let’s say you’ve decided to write a handbook yourself. Great! But where do you start? Writing out a custodial handbook can be a daunting task. First, list the sections you want to include, then think about subsections, what order they should all go in, and how long you want each section to be. Then comes the writing, of course, which also seems like a bit of a mountain to climb, especially if you’re short on time and staff.
To help get you started, we’ve compiled a few resources. For step-by-step breakdown of the handbook format, there’s this helpful guide. If you want to improve cleaning efficiency and get a few handy checklists, this book serves as a great resource. Or, if you just want an example of a handbook, New Life Cleaning Company has made one of their older manuals available online for free.
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4. Things to keep in mind
Creating a custodial handbook will take some time, if you don’t already have one. Don’t worry. Just chip away at it slowly, and you’ll be done before you know it.
Also, if you require your employees to read the handbook, it’s a good idea to include an acknowledgment page that each employee signs, indicating the handbook has been made available to them and that they will adhere to the policies within.
Finally, always keep two electronic copies of the handbook on file in case something happens to one of them. Each time you update the first copy, just make a second copy to replace the old one!