Janitors play a major role in maintaining the hygiene and cleanliness of residential and commercial buildings.
In other words, they are indirectly responsible for keeping many individuals healthy. Unfortunately, janitors are often exposed to serious risks of injury and health hazards. Every year over 46,000 janitors suffer work-related injuries requiring time away from work, according to a report by the National Safety Council. The high injury rate among janitors is comparable with that of dangerous professions, including healthcare and firefighting.
Common Occupational Health Hazards Faced by Janitors
Due to the nature of their work, janitors and cleaners often suffer injuries and illnesses. For instance, janitors often use harmful chemicals, and are at high risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens, which cause several diseases in humans. They are also exposed to high risk of trips, slips and falls, repetitive motion injuries, and musculoskeletal injuries caused by strains and overexertion. There are also cases where the cleaners and janitors become victims of assaults and crimes, especially when they work at odd hours or in remote areas.
Reducing the Risk of Blood Borne Infection and Poisoning
With a little care and awareness, janitors can reduce the risk of exposure to infectious microorganisms to a large extent. For instance, pathogens such as hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis B (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enter human body through blood contacts due to cuts or pierce. Thus, janitors need to be extra careful when handling needle sticks or any sharp objects. Familiarity with the color and smells of different harmful chemicals could be helpful as well. While janitors cannot stop handling harmful substances, they can be a little more careful and use the right protective tools to guard against the risks of infection and poisoning.
Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders are one of the leading causes for absence from work. Fortunately, most of these disorders are preventable. Some symptoms of musculoskeletal injuries include stiffness of muscles, swelling, tingling, and pain in the muscle. The NSC reports that back injuries account for around 46 percent of all musculoskeletal disorders suffered by the janitors. Back injuries are mostly caused by working at a poor posture, heavy lifting, and improper handling of heavy objects. If required, employers need to provide ergonomic assistive devices to the workers, and should also provide them the necessary training on how to use those devices, so as to help prevent musculoskeletal disorders among janitors and cleaners. The use of proper footwear and maintaining overall cleanliness would also help avoid falls, trips, and slips.
Increasing Legal Awareness
Janitors and cleaners need to be aware of their rights in the event of an accident at the workplace. Thankfully, many organizations are constantly working to raise awareness of janitor’s rights and also to help them safeguard their rights. If a janitor or cleaner suffers financial losses due to work-related injury, he should get in touch with a Missouri worker’s compensation lawyer to be informed of his legal rights and whether he can claim workers compensation benefits from his employer.
St. Louis Workers Compensation Lawyer
At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann we have helped hundreds of injured workers throughout the State of Missouri receive the compensation they were entitled to, collecting over $50 Million. We would be happy to do the same for you and your family if you have suffered a work related injury and are entitled to compensation.