Most businesses rely on janitors and other cleaners to ensure that their workplaces stay orderly and safe. However, these jobs can come with their own hazards, and employees need to be aware of these risks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that custodial workers had one of the highest rates of nonfatal injuries, with tens of thousands of workers injured every year. These common injuries can cause long-lasting damage to workers’ bodies and to their ability to do their job.
Cleaning often requires custodial employees to work with potentially harmful chemicals. Exposure to these chemicals can cause:
- Irritation to the skin and eyes
- Respiratory issues like asthma
- Chemical burns and rashes
- Increased risk of cancer and other diseases
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to inform workers of the dangers of these chemicals and to train them on how to handle them safely.
Chemical exposure is not the only potential exposure that could harm custodians. Exposure to bodily fluids as a part of cleaning duties also puts them at risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens. Just as the law requires employers to train their employees to handle chemicals properly, employers must train employees to handle contaminated materials.
Slips and falls
For custodians, falls can be a common danger. Mopping these areas, putting salt on icy sidewalks and placing warning signs to protect other employees also require janitors to work on slippery surfaces. Changing lightbulbs can involve time on a ladder, increasing the risk of a fall.
The physical requirements of custodial work can put significant strain on the body. Custodians are often required to lift heavy buckets, walk throughout their workday and perform repetitive motions to complete their day-to-day tasks. Over time, this physical exertion can cause sprains, strains and other injuries.
If you or a loved one experienced an injury while working as a custodian, explore your legal options with an attorney. Filing for workers’ compensation or pursuing a claim against employers who contributed to the danger could be an essential way for injured custodial workers to get the financial and medical support they need after they experience a work injury.