Your janitorial safety manual may not make it onto the bestseller list, but you can create one that your team will read all the way through.
Have you ever read a janitorial safety manual? Or any safety manual, for that matter? Let’s be honest; they aren’t exactly the kind of reading material you get excited about picking up. And we’re pretty sure there are no plans to make a Hollywood blockbuster out of any of them.
Despite how many yawns a janitorial safety manual can pack into each page, they are vitally important. A safety manual covers all manner of things that keep you and your team safe in what can be a more hazardous profession than many people realize.
On any given shift, you’re handling strong chemicals, working in slippery environments, using potentially flammable products, and contending with biohazards if you have contracts with medical facilities. Add to that the fact that some janitorial equipment can be cumbersome, and you have a high probability of unsafe conditions to develop.
It’s not only about safety, either. Your insurance rates, payroll, and equipment maintenance expenses all depend on keeping your workplace as safe and healthy as possible. And while a poor safety record won’t necessarily make clients reluctant to hire you, it certainly can’t help. After all, they have their own employee safety to consider.
No doubt, every janitorial operation addresses these issues in training manuals. Similarly, many of those manuals aren’t being read. Aside from sitting down with every new employee and asking them to read the safety manual out loud, it’s almost impossible to guarantee that anyone reads it. There are steps you can take to change that.
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How to create the best janitorial safety manual ever
1. Keep it relevant
You can always add more to your janitorial safety manual if you need to, but for now, keep it relevant. Stick to the issues you know your team will come across.
2. Keep it short
The longer your safety manual is, the less chance that people will read it all the way through. Don’t leave out important information, of course. Just make sure you share what you need to in as little space as possible.
3. Keep it specific
Similarly, don’t get lost on tangents. Sure, the science behind how the traction on your shoes can help you avoid slipping on a wet floor is fascinating. Save it for a team meeting. For now, it’s enough to remind your team that proper footwear is essential for avoiding slips and falls.
4. Keep it clean
Only a little bit of a pun intended here. However, making your manual easy to read will help ensure that people actually read it. Use bullet points, keep your sentences and paragraphs short, and break up your text into logical sections.
5. Keep it interesting
Obviously, there is information that needs to go into your manual, but you can do it in exciting ways. Here’s an example:
- To maintain optimal levels of cleanliness, ensure the area you are working in is well lit.
- Too dark? Can’t see very well? Turn on some lights. Dust bunnies grow in dark spaces, and soon they will be big enough to steal your lunch.
6. Keep it visually interesting
No one said your entire manual has to be text. Use graphics to enhance the message and add some visual appeal to your pages. Or go all out, like Zappos. One of their employee handbooks is written in the style of a comic book.
7. Keep it easy to access
Create a super-streamlined version of your janitorial safety manual and add it to your janitorial software. Then when employees need a refresher on something, they can open up the app and review safety protocols for a specific janitorial tool, cleaning chemicals, or questionable situations.
Bonus tip: Make sure your safety manual is in the correct language
Diversity flourishes in the custodial industry, and you can’t assume everyone will know how to read and understand the same language. Of course, you can’t be expected to know how to communicate in multiple languages, either. (Although, kudos to you if you are able to do that!) The solution? The Janitorial Manager messaging app, JM Connect, can automatically translate information into your desired language.
What goes in your janitorial safety manual
Once you’ve decided on a format that’s more user-friendly and engaging, you need to determine what information should go into your manual. Again, relevancy is key here. Stick to topics that will directly impact your employees, and they will be more likely to read through everything.
Start with an overview of why safety is such a big deal. Include scary statistics (maybe even with a “scary” font). For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported almost 43,000 non-fatal injuries in the janitorial industry. And their most recent data points out that, as an industry, janitors and cleaners have the third-highest rate of injuries and illnesses that result in days away from work. That’s more than construction workers, registered nurses, or police and sheriff’s patrol officers, to name a few.
You could get more specific, too. Just look at the safety labels of your cleaning equipment and supplies for inspiration. Cleaning solutions could cause shortness of breath, dizziness, coughing, or even fatalities if you misuse them. Using equipment incorrectly could cause falls, injuries, or possible electrocution. If you don’t use proper protective gear, you could get cleaning chemicals in your eyes or on your skin. Certainly, not everything in your janitorial closet is hazardous, but there’s enough there to warrant some caution.
Once you’ve set the stage, dive into the details. What precisely that includes will depend on your operations and where you work. As long as you do your best to keep it entertaining and fun, your employees will appreciate the effort you put into making a janitorial safety manual worth reading.
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