Janitors have an important impact on the health and safety of other workers. They keep buildings clean, well maintained, well lit, comfortable and secure. Unfortunately, janitorial work can lead to serious health problems. Every Chicago Heights work injury attorney is aware that the average janitor faces multiple hazards on the job.
According to a recent report by the National Safety Council, more than 46,000 cleaners and janitors are injured severely enough each year to require one or more days away from work. Their current injury rate is unacceptably high, on a level with other hazardous professions such as firefighting and nursing.
The most prominent health risks for cleaners and janitors
Cleaners and janitors are often hurt or ill as a direct result of their job circumstances, as a Chicago Heights work injury attorney knows. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the following risks are the most prominent:
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals
- Exposure to bloodborne pathogens
- Musculoskeletal trauma
- Repetitive motion injury
- Slips and falls
Many janitors are also at risk of assault and other crimes, especially if they work in isolated circumstances or during odd hours.
Cutting the risk of poisoning and infection
Fortunately, many cases of poisoning and pathogen exposure on the job may be preventable. Janitors and supervisors must label all containers clearly. In a recent case, a worker suffered severe damage to his airway after he smelled a container of ammonia to identify what was inside. When janitors must work with hazardous substances, they have the right to use correct protective equipment. They are also guaranteed the right to full protection against pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis.
Creating a safer environment through ergonomics
Many musculoskeletal injuries on the job are preventable. According to the NSC, approximately 46 percent of these injuries among janitors are back injuries, often caused by improper lifting and transferring of heavy loads. All janitorial staff, even temporary staff, must be trained properly on lifting procedures. No worker should be forced to lift a heavy load without assistance. Correct ergonomics can decrease the risk of slip and fall injuries. Proper footwear and good cleanliness can also cut slip and fall hazards.
Voices for increased safety
As employers become more aware of the dangers that face janitorial staff, many groups such as the NSC continue to advocate for janitors’ rights. When cleaners and janitors are safer, everyone in the building is safer. Injured workers may find it helpful to discuss their case with a Chicago Heights work injury attorney.