Much like the janitorial supplies bought in Manila, cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to the health and environment. Companies are aware of such risks because they are purchasing the same, if not more high-end, products. They simply let their custodians have access to it whenever the next cleaning session is scheduled. However, this kind of freedom could pose certain risks especially on the side of the custodians. Wearing of face masks and latex gloves are not enough. What should the management and cleaning personnel do?
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The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), under United States Department of Labor, formulated some guidelines regarding the proper use of cleaning products for the safety of workers. These are the following:
Training of Workers
This must be initiated by the management or the employer who hires the people to be assigned in the cleaning department. You don’t just give them an identification card, tell them their work schedules, give them a timecard, point where the cleaning supply closet is and off they go. As any other employee under the payroll of the company, they must undergo orientation and training.
This training includes a discussion of the cleaning products they will be dealing with such as the chemicals or ingredients they contain; the symptoms and health problems they may cause; and what type of first aid measure is applicable if improperly used.
Investing in Proper Protective Equipment
The basic “battle gear” of a custodian are gloves, safety goggles, and face masks or respirators. The management may have accomplished this requirement which is good. On the other hand, workers should take part as well by wearing all three while even working on basic tasks. Why is this necessary?
As we mentioned above, cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that if accidentally diluted may cause severe consequences. What we mean by ‘accidental’ is, in general, chemicals should not be mixed. The prime example is bleach and ammonia, a deadly combination that may cause lung damage or worse, death.
Put on Labels on Cleaning Products
Or never peel off the labels, whatever is applicable. Labels don’t just tell the name of the product. It shows how to properly use the said product and the chemicals or ingredients it has. Plus, the corresponding first aid in case something bad happens while using the product.
Strictly read and follow what is written on the label at all times.
Establish Open Communication
Unfortunately, in this type of job, complaints are sometimes unheard of or shrugged off by the higher ups. According to the “Green Building Operations and Maintenance Manual” published by Green Seal, communication is encouraged among building management/owners, employees, and occupants. Of course, let us not forget the custodians as well. It is not only the job of the custodian to maintain the cleanliness and orderliness of the building. The occupants and the management must take part too because they are the ones who use the facilities inside the building frequently. How?
Address the grievances of the custodians and provide an immediate solution to their problems. In this way, they will be more productive and work with the best results.
In an ideal world, guidelines such as these must be enforced, followed and implemented but in reality they don’t happen word-for-word. Most of the time, the management itself takes these for granted. Their duty doesn’t end by buying janitorial supplies that may be from Manila or the US. They must take into consideration the health, safety and well-being of their custodians.