Workers, such as janitors, housekeepers, and busboys, use cleaning products each day to keep their worksites clean, plying their trade in schools, hospitals, hotels, and restaurants. But did you know that some cleaning chemicals can be hazardous to your health, leading to such ailments as skin rashes, burns, coughing, or even worse? As a result, many employers are switching to green cleaning products because they are thought to be less hazardous to workers and the environment.
However, placing the word "green" in a name or on a bottle does not ensure that a chemical is safe. Employers, therefore, should review the cleaning chemicals they purchase, including green cleaning products, to understand their health and safety hazards.
In the end employers should choose the least hazardous cleaners. A good way to do this is to use Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), which should be obtained and maintained for all the hazardous cleaning products and chemicals they use. These MSDSs must be readily accessible to workers.
Employers must also provide safe working conditions for employees using cleaning chemicals. When cleaning chemicals are hazardous, employers must train workers on the safe work practices for using the chemicals. Such practices include not mixing certain cleaning products, knowing when to dilute certain cleaners, and training workers on the use, storage, and emergency spill procedures for cleaning chemicals.
You can find more information on how to keep you and your workers safe when working with cleaning chemicals by checking out this infosheet from NIOSH, or going to the webpage "OSHA Assistance for the Cleaning Industry."
Did You Know?