The work of professional cleaners is dangerous. When janitors aren’t facing a public health crisis, they may be struggling with workplace injuries. Ergonomic programs address work-related musculoskeletal disorders by finding solutions to the repetitive motions that most commonly lead to workplace injuries.

In the cleaning industry, ergonomic products and programs seek to reduce the repetitive motion on small muscle groups. This could include switching away from upright vacuums that are tough on wrists or investing in mops with telescoping handles. “For a contract cleaning company, worker wellness will be a big part of what makes you profitable,” says Walker. “A lot of the fixed cost of contract cleaners comes from workers’ compensation. Janitorial workers are the third most injured job in the country. So as a BSC, you start the game with odds stacked against you.”

According to Walker, teaching ergonomics can significantly reduce workplace injuries, lessening the burden of workers’ compensation and showing employees that health and safety are valued.

“Most traditional cleaning tools are made with a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Walker. “Each body is slightly different and making small, commonsense changes to the equipment you purchase and using an ergonomic program will be crucial.

Walker has seen many BSCs lose money unnecessarily when insurance premiums continue to rise after a string of workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims that could have been avoided with an ergonomics program.

Chemical Training

Whether BSCs are battling a public health crisis using strong, hospital-grade disinfectants or simply performing general cleaning, training on chemicals will be absolutely essential to protecting their health. A lack of training often means a lack of understanding when it comes to cleaning chemicals and their dangers.

Training is essential, too, in situations where BSCs inherit new equipment when they land a new account. If janitors are not trained on this equipment and use a brand of chemical that is not compatible, the results may be dangerous.

“It’s important to remember that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) auditors are trained to go straight to the cleaning program and check chemicals,” says Walker.

He recommends simplifying chemical inventory with only one disinfectant, one cleaner and one mopping solution — in addition to a consistent chemical training program to avoid hefty OSHA fines.

Minimizing inventory is one way to simplify training, but so is providing multilingual and visually-clear training materials. This is especially crucial when it comes to chemical handling where safety is of the utmost importance. BSCs should have training programs that meet janitors where they are in terms of language and ample color coding.

“One of the easiest ways to break down cultural and linguistic barriers is with color coding,” says Walker. “I recommend that BSCs ensure that not only Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are the same color as the chemical, but the instructions they receive are on the same color of screen or paper.”

previous page of this article:
Prioritizing Employee Morale During COVID-19 Pandemic
next page of this article:
BSC Contributions To Indoor Air Quality