Imagine what our offices, hotel rooms, and shopping centers would look like without the behind-the-scenes work of custodians, housekeepers, and janitors. These employees clean, disinfect, repair, and maintain public and private spaces every day, and many people aren't aware of the high rates of illness and injury they suffer due to the nature of their work.
If you're a janitorial worker who must take time off work to recover from an illness or injury caused by your job, you may be able to collect workers’ compensation. Learn more about your risks and how to stay safe on the job.
Workplace Injuries Are Common for Custodial Workers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, janitors and cleaners suffer an average of 50,000 injuries a year that require days off work. They have the 16th highest rate of injury of all workers, after employees in industries such as logging, fishing, roofing, and farming.
Custodial workers experience a variety of injuries at work, most commonly:
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals. Professional cleaners are required to use powerful chemicals that can damage nasal passages and lungs if appropriate safety gear isn't worn or when the chemicals are mislabeled or mishandled. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of personal protective gear when working with hazardous materials as well as the clear labeling of these substances, so these incidents shouldn't happen in a safe workplace.
- Exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Cleaners in any environment—but particularly in a healthcare setting—may be required to clean biological material that potentially carries infectious disease. Many workers aren't trained in the safe handling of these materials, or aren't provided with protective masks and gloves and become exposed themselves.
- Musculoskeletal disorders. The most common complaints among janitors are back and shoulder injuries. These types of injuries are caused by overexertion and repetitive motion. Heavy housekeeping carts and buckets of water that must be lifted to be emptied contribute to these types of injuries. Workers can be provided with special equipment that makes their required tasks—such as lifting, mopping, and reaching—less dangerous.
- Slips, trips, and falls. As janitors and housekeepers are often relied upon to keep public spaces free of slipping and tripping hazards, they are naturally exposed to these dangers themselves. When cleaners take care of wet floors, icy sidewalks, and spills, they're also at risk of falling. Janitors often use ladders to change lightbulbs or clean shelves or fixtures and sometimes fall from heights when completing these tasks. Providing slip-resistant footwear and proper training for working at heights are ways employers can protect workers from these kinds of injuries.
Reducing the number of injuries in the cleaning industry depends on employers providing safe environments, appropriate equipment, and proper training of all employees. If you're a janitor or housekeeper who was injured on the job, you should immediately fill out an accident report and turn it in to a supervisor. Then, seek medical care, document your visits to the emergency room or doctor’s office, and avoid mistakes that can jeopardize your claim.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.