Understanding Housekeeping Exposures

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Since good housekeeping practices play a critical role in minimizing workplace illnesses and injuries, employers need to establish effective safety procedures and practices. By ensuring employees are aware of the workplace hazards associated with various housekeeping responsibilities, employers can help to create a much safer workplace.

Slips and Falls

Poor floor conditions are a leading cause of accidents. Therefore, floors should be kept in good order, which includes replacing worn, ripped or damaged flooring. Spills, dirt, fluid leaks or weather-related substances should be cleaned immediately. Non-skid floor mats should be placed at all entrances of the building and in areas where spills or wet floors are likely (for example, cafeterias, restrooms). Hallways, aisles and stairways should be kept clear of boxes, debris or other obstructions and require adequate lighting. Also, keep areas around fire extinguishers, electrical panels and emergency equipment clear. Parking lots should be cleared of snow, ice and other debris on a regular basis.

Hazardous Chemicals

Proper personal protective equipment, such as gloves and eyewear, should be used to protect employees against harmful chemicals as directed by the chemical safety data sheet (SDS). Additionally, all cleaning supplies, tools and equipment should be labeled and organized. A designated room should be established for storing these items and should be locked at all times.

Housekeepers

Housekeepers in hotels and other facilities are at high risk for coming into contact with infectious bodily fluids. According to OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, an employer must implement a written schedule located within the facility that states the types of surfaces to be cleaned, the type of soil present and other tasks needed to be performed in this area. Another concern for housekeepers is exposure to sharps. OSHA recommends that sharps be disposed of into appropriate containers as soon as possible.
Contaminated Laundry

Since bloodborne pathogens and other infectious fluids may often be present in sheets, towels and other laundry, proper handling and disinfection is critical. According to OSHA, contaminated laundry should not be sorted or rinsed in the location of use, and must be transported to the laundry for decontamination in bags or containers labeled or color-coded in accordance. OSHA also recommends melt-away bags that can be thrown directly into washers without having to unload the contaminated laundry. This reduces the risk of employees coming into contact with contaminates.

Carpet Cleaning

Carpets can play host to dirt, debris, bugs, bloodborne pathogens and more. Regular cleaning with a heavy-duty vacuum helps reduce exposure to these hazards. Spills should be promptly cleaned and disinfected, especially when infectious materials are involved. If fluids are allowed to stand for a period of time, removal will be difficult. In that case, utilize the highest grade of antimicrobial carpet cleaner available, which reduces the total number of bacteria present.

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