Raise awareness by adding essential janitorial safety meeting topics to your next team rally.
When you think of professions with extremely high injury rates, you most likely imagine jobs such as commercial fishing, logging, or roofing. Cleaning may not seem like a dangerous profession, but janitors suffer over forty thousand non-fatal injuries each year according to a study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Losing a team member to an injury can result in decreased staff, elevated worker’s comp premiums, a reduction in quality control, and sometimes even death. Remaining employees are forced to pick up the slack, raising the chances of overexertion and additional injuries. It can create a domino effect of damaging events that can destroy your cleaning business.
The best way to prevent injuries is to raise awareness by discussing company safety awareness during weekly staff meetings. Choose new janitorial safety meeting topics to focus on each week. If you’re not quite sure where to start, review past injury claims to gather the information you need to determine your company’s most common accidents.
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10 Essential janitorial safety meeting topics that keep cleaners safe
1.Slips, trips, and falls
Second only to automobile deaths, slips, trips, and falls cause 15% of accidental deaths according to OSHA. Slip prevention topics to discuss would be:
- wearing footwear with enough traction
- keeping work areas clean and properly lit
- avoiding obstructions, such as cords, along walkways and entrances
- using proper caution signs or cones to block dangerous walking surfaces
2. Chemical safety
Janitors work with various chemicals, and it should never be assumed that employees understand their proper use. To increase chemical awareness, be sure to review all cleaning solutions you use and evaluate their risk to your team. Teach appropriate mixing and storage practices that prevent inhalation hazards or even combustion. Be sure to repeat training any time you hire a new employee, introduce a new chemical, or if there is a recent safety occurrence.
3. Personal protective equipment
PPE’s (personal protective equipment) help prevent injuries and are an essential janitorial safety topic to address. The right equipment can prevent severe injuries to the eyes, head, lungs, hearing, and skin. Show your team the proper use of PPE’s, and also discuss the importance of reporting damaged or faulty protective gear. For up-to-date PPE standards and other useful janitorial safety meeting topics, review OSHA’s Cleaning Industry Hazards and Solutions.
4. Musculoskeletal health
Repetitive motion can cause musculoskeletal injuries like sprains, strains, and back injuries. These types of injuries can be very painful, and some can create long-term pain that can be difficult to manage. To reduce these types of injuries, make sure your team is working ergonomically and with the right tools for their stature.
For instance, traditional vacuums require a lot of back and forth motion and bending to plug and unplug the machine. It’s not so bad if you are doing this task once, but most cleaners are doing this same task repeatedly, all day long. Backpack vacuums might help, but they’re not one size fits all. If they are too bulky or not harnessed properly, they can still cause injuries. Assess your company’s cleaning procedures and equipment and see where you can reduce repetitive motion or improve ergonomics.
5. Trash hazards
Every janitor should learn about proper trash handling to reduce injuries caused by sharp objects or bloodborne pathogens. Janitors should never push trash down with their hands or feet, and they should always check for tears, holes, or leaks. While schools and office buildings generally have trash cans full of paper, that’s is not usually the case with medical facilities or construction cleaning clients. Proper trash disposal methods can prevent severe injuries and illnesses like getting stabbed with a needle or stepping on sharp objects.
6. Electrical risks
It’s easy to forget how dangerous tasks can be when they’re part of a routine. Water doesn’t mix well with powered cleaning tools or extension cords, but they’re often used together to accomplish cleaning jobs. Reduce equipment failure, electrocutions, and even fires by encouraging employee awareness when working with electrical tools, power cords, and water.
7. Confined spaces
There are times your team will have to work in confined spaces, so it’s important to teach awareness about the risks involved. Lack of ventilation can put employees in grave danger. Cleaning chemicals can emit gasses that get trapped, increasing the chance of chemical combustion or fire. It also puts employees at risk of getting burned or inhaling toxic fumes. The CDC has helpful resources for working safely in confined spaces.
8. Reduce contamination risks
To keep your team and your clients healthy, talk to your cleaners about reducing the spread of germs and other illnesses. Cleaning isn’t always about visual appeal, but sanitation. While gloves can help prevent the spread of germs, they can also make things worse if your team isn’t following proper protocol. The CDC has some great tips on how to effectively reduce illness and infection, particularly with medical clients.
It’s not uncommon for janitors and cleaners to work at night when their client’s business is closed for the day. Teach employees that work alone or at night the right way to handle potentially dangerous situations such as an attack or robbery. Preparing your employees with a protocol for these situations will ensure they have the tools to stay safe if it ever happens.
10. Reporting on-site safety hazards
Part of reducing injuries and maintaining janitorial safety is to encourage your team to report on-site safety hazards right away. Whether it’s a problem with their janitorial tools or any other job-site risk, awareness is the first step in preventing safety hazards. By using an on-site inspections app, your team can make a note of any dangers they find so that they can be addressed and fixed as soon as possible.
Regularly presenting janitorial safety meeting topics is a great way to show your team and your clients that you care about their safety and well-being. Just remember to keep meetings short, but frequent, and always lead by example. It’s not realistic to expect your team to follow protocol without examples, accountability, and consistency.
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