Why Janitorial Work Can Be A Pain
Natalie Guitead is just 26 years old and has only been working as a janitor for three years, yet her body is already feeling the impact of her job and the physical tasks it entails.
Guitead’s work, and the strain it puts on her body, is the basis of a report by rabble.ca.
As part of her job, Guitead is constantly bending down to pick up garbage, which she then must lift and place into a bin. By the end of her work week these motions and heavy lifting — the bins sometimes hold around 50 pounds of trash — leave Guitead in pain.
“I notice at the end of the week that I feel it in my back, or my arm is sore,” Guitead tells rabble. “And if it's a really bad day where there's a lot of heavy garbage. I just feel very exhausted."
Guitead has worked at other locations, which she says were even more difficult to work than the commercial building she services now. Due to these experiences, she has joined Service Employees International Union (SEIU) council of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Like it does in other cities, the Ottawa branch of SEIU negotiates contracts with multiple employers throughout Ottawa to improve upon the conditions janitors face. Now understanding this, Guided says she will learn the specific standards her employers are held to so that she can better ensure that she is being treated fairly.
While janitors like Guitead study up on their rights as workers, the companies who employ them should do some studying themselves. By researching ergonomic practices and then putting them into place, building service contractors and facility managers are more likely to employ a workforce that’s happier and healthier.
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