Zin Cheung, MS, CIE, MT(ASCP), of Cal/OSHA Consultative Services, sat down last week with Ergoweb’s Dan Cannon to discuss the new, free resource from Cal/OSHA: “Working Safer and Easier: for Janitors, Custodians, and Housekeepers.” This resource was developed by the Research and Education Unit of Cal/OSHA Consultation Services, State of California Department of Industrial Relations.
Dan Cannon: Tell us about Cal/OSHAs new publication.
Zin Cheung: Working Safer and Easier: for Janitors, Custodians, and Housekeepers was designed to increase awareness of the most common workplace hazards cleaners face on the job and offers tips for reducing injuries and illnesses. The new publication consists of a series of fact sheets, and a set of posters. The fact sheets provide helpful tips for owners, managers, and supervisors to increase productivity in a safe and healthful way. Other fact sheets are intended for training employees to work in a safe manner by using appropriate equipment and best work practices.
The set of posters are designed to increase employee awareness by giving practical suggestions for the safe completion of routinely performed tasks.
DC: Do cleaning industry workers experience a particularly high rate of injury?
ZC: Janitors, custodians, and housekeepers encounter a wide variety of workplace hazards (e.g., physical and chemical hazards as well as biological agents) in the course of their hectic workday. They may suffer slips and trips, cuts, bruises, and burns from using machines, hand tools, or chemicals. They spend most of their time on their feet, sometimes lifting or pushing heavy furniture or equipment. Highly repetitive tasks, such as dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming, may require workers to be in awkward postures (e.g., bending, twisting, stooping, crouching and reaching). As a result, janitors, custodians, and housekeepers may suffer back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.
DC: Due to the high rate of injury among cleaners, has there been increased attention to ergonomics in this industry – particularly with the design of the products workers use?
ZC: Yes. While researching improvement options, I discovered that a variety of newly designed products are available in the workplace. In the Cal/OSHA publication “Working Safer and Easier” a variety of methods are depicted which may be beneficial in mitigating risks depending on factors at a particular worksite.
DC: How can employers/employees access this new, free resource?
ZC: Employers can view, print or order this publication by visiting www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/puborder.asp. This educational product will soon be available in Spanish.