A properly trained janitorial staff has its obvious benefits. The end result of their shift will be clean facilities that are efficiently maintained. But what about the safety of these workers, beyond the safety goggles and gloves? A clean job well done is very important, but there can be hazards that come with cleaning chemicals, and a proper understanding of these dangers can reduce injuries and save lives.
Recently there was a tragic incident in a restaurant that cost an employee his life. He had been unaware of the products a coworker had used on the floor he was about to clean. The chemical happened to be ammonia. So, when he applied bleach, he unknowingly created a deadly chemical. This was, unfortunately, not an isolated incident and can happen anytime staff are required to work with cleaning chemicals.
In the future, how can incidents like these be prevented? For starters, companies that produce chemicals with mixing hazards should label their products with warnings. It is always important to refer to the product’s label or SDS sheet to be aware of the hazards that come with certain chemicals.
Employers themselves should develop a system that allows them to track and share what products are used where and when. The first step is to be diligent about using a wet floor sign, or a caution sign, to indicate that the area has been treated with something. Communicating with your team, especially those who work on separate shifts, is a huge factor when it comes to safety. Keeping a chart or schedule that is somewhere easy to locate with clear directions and indications of product use is a great way to keep your staff informed. If they are trained on how to document their product usage, it would benefit everyone.
There are certain products that should never be mixed, but it is important to acknowledge that each employee may believe a different product is the perfect one to get the job done. By communicating what is being used, when, and where, users can keep track of their chemical usages. Another way to eliminate this problem is to train staff on which products should be and shouldn’t be used in certain areas. Assigning specific products to each area can solve this problem. A wall chart or guide, like the one linked below, can help.
Education and communication are key when it comes to safety and chemical usage. Chemical mixing can become a deadly problem fast, but with proper training and tools, it doesn’t have to be.