August 19, 2022

Cleaning Safety: Prevent Injuries, Keep Cleaning Staff Safe

cleaning staff members cleaning office building while practicing safety measures

Keeping cleaning staff safe and injury-free is important to the health and success of your team.

When cleaning staff are absent from work due to injury, the cleaning falls on co-workers or does not get done. This can lead to dirty facilities, which has ramifications as well.

A dirty facility can negatively impact customers and building patrons or lead to dirt and debris disrupting the quality of products and goods in industrial and manufacturing settings, for example.

Some of the most common safety issues across industries are:

  • Slip, Trips, and Falls: due to rugs or floor mats, wet floors, chords and more
  • Chemical Accidents: depending on the facility, these can be related to hazardous materials used in the production of goods or even the detergents and chemicals used in cleaning supplies
  • Equipment Safety: can come from improper use of equipment
  • Respiratory Issues: caused by chemicals or toxins in the air
  • Climbing Hazards: improper use of ladders or other extension-type equipment
  • Ergonomic or RSIs: Ergonomic issues and RSI (repetitive stress injuries) come from leaning over for extended periods or repetitive motion work like mopping

Many of these injuries can be prevented when staff have the proper knowledge and training. That is why it is important to take action and keep your team safe.

Steps to Preventing Cleaning Staff Injuries

1. Develop Detailed Cleaning and Safety Plans

Part of creating a clean and safe environment is having a safety plan. It is important to review this information with cleaning staff multiple times throughout the year—especially if new staff members have been added to the team.

Since cleaning and safety go hand in hand, your cleaning plan should address safety issues throughout—this way staff know why it is important to follow specific steps.

Here are a few things your cleaning and safety plan should address:

  • Proper Attire: things like having the proper attire for the job—for example, wearing closed-toe and rubber-soled shoes. This can be extremely important for staff that are responsible for cleaning floors.
  • Placement of Floor Signs: Making sure staff know when and where to place wet floor signs is another important part of a safety plan—as this can impact staff and any guests in the facility.
  • Proper Use of Cleaning Agents: Reviewing the proper use of chemicals and cleaning agents including where, when, and how to store them is also important. It is always a good idea to make sure all chemicals are properly labeled and kept in their original packaging, and that staff know how each detergent or cleaning agent should be used. Mixing the wrong chemicals can result in dangerous toxins released into the air that can cause respiratory issues.
  • Addressing Chemical Spills: Chemical spills can happen anywhere. Making sure your cleaning team is trained in proper protocol for how to address the chemicals in your specific facility is important. This can help reduce burns and toxins from being mixed into the air.

Here are some additional tips for an Industrial Facility Cleaning Plan.

2-Provide On-Going Training

two cleaning team members work together to carefully clean glass in office building.

Regular training is key to keeping cleaning staff safe. As we learned from Covid 19, protocols for the proper way to clean specific environments can change.

For example, in hospitals, it is important for cleaning teams to clean from the top to the bottom of a room. This way if germs, bacteria, or viruses are present in the room, they will make their way towards the floor as cleaning occurs.

Cleaning floors last helps to ensure that any bacteria or viruses stirred up can be cleaned off the floor last, helping to reduce the spread of infection to people.

It is also important to provide staff with information on the PPE or proper protective items to wear whether it is rubber gloves or face masks, protecting the skin and eyes is crucial.

And, depending on the environment, it may be important to review cleaning protocols for different types of machinery. Industrial and manufacturing facilities operate large and sometimes dangerous machines.

Training and reminding staff to be safe around machinery is important to their overall health.

ICE Cobotics Cobi 18 cleans alongside cleaning staff member in office building.

3-Invest in Autonomous Cleaning Solutions

According to the Janitorial Manager, the leading causes of workplace injuries come from needing to rush to get the work done (91% of respondents agreed) and not having enough time to get the work done (17% of respondents agreed).

The correlation here is that due to increased responsibilities, cleaning staff rush to get through their task lists, and this results in feeling like they do not have time to get the work done.

Rushing to get work done and feeling under pressure can result in injuries of all kinds. Slip and falls, mixing the wrong chemicals which can lead to breathing or skin irritations, and even lifting equipment improperly which can lead to straining muscles.

Beyond that, rushing can lead to a job not done well.

Bringing on autonomous cleaning equipment, like Cobi 18, an autonomous floor scrubber by ICE Cobotics, can help address these issues.

  • When autonomous solutions like Cobi take on the repetitive work of floor scrubbing, staff are freed to focus on other high-priority tasks. This increases productivity and can help reduce the mental stress that staff experience when rushing to get cleaning done.
  • Since automation follows the same mapped route each time it is deployed, and even learns the path better over time, the cleaning is consistent and human error is eliminated. Meaning, the facility will become cleaner over time.
  • By deploying autonomous floor cleaning solutions, staff are freed from repetitive work like mopping that can lead to repetitive stress injuries or RSIs. RSIs are injuries in the joints, muscles, tendons, and skeletal system caused by repeat motions.

According to Ergonomic Trends “1.8 million workers are afflicted by RSIs per year, with around 600,000 of those people taking time off from work to recuperate.”

While RSIs are only one example of injuries experienced by workers, these injuries can have a substantial impact. Not only are people affected, but business is affected too.

Without cleaning staff on hand to make sure a facility is clean and safe, other parts of the business, like the perception of cleanliness and even the safety of customers, can be impacted. Each of these things has the potential to negatively affect the success of a business if not handled carefully.

ICE Cobotics is an industry-leading provider of cleaning technology and equipment. If you are interested in autonomous solutions or other floor cleaning equipment, contact our service team! We are happy to help!

For more reading check out: 5 Steps for Improving Cleaning Staff Job Satisfaction

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