Internet network security concept with young man in the night

Contributed by Janitorial Manager

In some ways, having a night cleaning crew is ideal because there are far less distractions and interruptions that can occur in the wee hours of the night. Since offices, restaurants, medical centers, and retail shops are closed, your team doesn’t need to work around a whole lot of people much less worry about equipment being in the way. 

Yet, while cleaning at night may seem like the best time to get the job done, there are also risks that can be involved. The same conditions that make it easy for your night cleaning crew to accomplish their tasks are the very same conditions that can make safety a genuine concern. If trouble occurs late at night, there aren’t many options available when it comes to your cleaning crew seeking immediate help. 

With that being said, when thinking of safety, it's important to acknowledge the potential for crime, but that shouldn’t be the only concern. Injuries on the job or health conditions can quickly go from bad to worse if your employees are working alone or in isolated areas. For these reasons and more, it’s critical to seek solutions before a problem occurs to better prepare and protect your employees out in the field.

9 Ideas for Keeping Your Night Cleaning Crew Safe on the Job

1. Note Potential Hazards on Your Walkthrough. Before your team even begins working in a location, it’s important to note potential hazards you see on site. Even if this isn’t in your original walkthrough, you can always conduct a health and safety inspection, if necessary. This provides you with the opportunity to prepare your crew for any issues they need to be aware of ahead of time. 

2. Encourage and Require Attention to Basic Safety Principles. Concerns about chemical spills or dangerous situations are absolutely valid. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common on-the-job injuries in the commercial cleaning industry are sprains or muscle strains from a fall on the floor or a walkway. Even though it may seem elementary to some, it’s absolutely essential to review safety protocols and practices like wearing non-slip shoes and setting out “Wet Floor” signs.

3. Be Aware of Your Scheduling. Some people on your night cleaning crew can be more at risk than others in certain situations. You can minimize that risk when you create your schedule by being mindful of who you are scheduling to work and when. This leads into the next point of using a buddy system.

4. Work in Groups of Two or More if Possible. Safety in numbers is real. If it’s at all possible, try to schedule teams of two or more for your night and overnight cleaning shifts. While it may seem that some spaces don’t warrant more than one worker, you can always double up to get those spaces cleaned more quickly. 

5. Make Sure First Aid is Available. Your night cleaning crew can easily keep a First Aid kit on hand while they clean and additional kits can be kept in a janitorial closet or other areas throughout a facility for backup. 

6. Train for Emergencies. In the event of an emergency, the chemical and emotional responses that happen in our bodies can make it hard to think clearly. However, good emergency training can bypass that confusion and help people understand what to do. The Red Cross offers numerous classes, including First Aid and CPR. If you want to take further steps, FEMA offers a class called “You Are the Help Until Help Arrives, ” which goes beyond basic first aid. 

7. Train Your Team on Chemical Safety Procedures. There is so much that could be said here, and it’s not just for your night cleaning crew. Cleaning chemicals come with an array of potential issues, from skin irritation to breathing problems and more. OSHA has a wealth of information regarding workplace safety for cleaning organizations, but here is the basic premise. Everyone on your team needs to understand how to interpret the Safety Data Sheets on cleaning products. They also need to understand the importance of ventilation, especially in confined spaces as well as what to do in the event of a spill, exposure, or other potentially hazardous situation. 

8. Offer Self-Defense Classes. Self-defense isn’t only about fighting off an aggressor. That’s part of it, for sure, but there’s so much more involved in self-defense, much of which is especially valid for a night cleaning crew. A good instructor will go over issues like situational awareness, knowing how to recognize a potentially dangerous situation, and what you can do to avoid it.

9. Make Communication Easier. Communication is great for safety reasons, but it also improves your overall effectiveness. Ensure that your crew has access to a phone throughout the entirety of their shift so that they can call or text if an unsafe situation occurs.

Safety is always a serious issue that no one is exempt from. The good news is that by raising awareness and having safety practices in place, the majority of potential hazards can be avoided.