Accidents on the job are bound to happen, but with proper safety procedures, many can be prevented! All commercial janitorial companies need to have clear safety procedures that their staff is very familiar with, especially since they deal with chemicals and different tools and equipment.
McLemore Building Maintenance has many procedures to help prevent accidents and ensures their staff is constantly reminded of them. This blog will provide four examples of keeping your staff safe and why it is crucial to have such procedures implemented.
#1: Reoccurring Reviews of Safety Procedures
As time goes on, it can be easy to forget the safety procedures set in place. A way to avoid this is by having reoccurring safety meetings. McLemore Building Maintenance holds weekly safety toolbox meetings at all our facilities every Monday. These meetings are about 5-10 minutes and serve as a refresher on various safety topics. These topics include bloodborne pathogens, back safety, incident reporting, and evacuation procedures. To ensure our staff is engaged, we ask questions about the topic and receive feedback on any concerns. We also go over any incidents that may have happened over the past week and the proper actions to prevent them from happening again.
In addition to these frequent meetings, your staff should have easy access to all these safety procedures. All possible accidents should be considered when creating safety procedures. You can keep these procedures on a shared drive that everyone has access to, in a container that can easily be found, or make all staff always keep a copy with them. McLemore keeps a binder full of all this information at every facility. This binder has all our safety protocols, safety manuals, and different forms to fill out when an incident occurs. Keeping this information easily accessible helps prevent incidents and keeps our staff safe when on the job.
It is essential to have these reoccurring reviews and easy access to safety material because it serves as a precaution for an accident. This is especially important for accidents that may not happen as often. Making sure your staff is constantly reminded of what to do leaves less room for an even more significant incident to occur. It also prevents many accidents from happening because it reminds staff of what not to do in certain situations. This makes it harder for the team to forget what to do in the event of an emergency.
#2: Have Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is protective clothing that will protect an employee’s head, eyes, ears, face, hands, feet, and breathing. PPE or clothing does not prevent accidents but instead creates a barrier between the accident and the injury. Specific jobs and tasks in McLemore operations require the use of PPE. These should not be relied upon to protect against hazards but should be used in conjunction with guards, engineering controls, and sound manufacturing practices. It is also vital that the PPE fits each employee as PPE that fits poorly will not provide the necessary protection.
Commercial janitorial companies need to have proper PPE because many on-the-job injuries can be prevented with it. Most chemical-related injuries can be avoided. It does not matter what type of chemical is used, accidents happen, and PPE can prevent damage. This is also true for eye injuries. 3 out of 5 workers who have experienced an eye injury were not wearing their eye protection. A survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nearly 70% of the injuries resulted from flying or falling objects. Most of the material striking the eye was reportedly moving at speeds faster than something being thrown by hand. It is also crucial that your staff is adequately trained on what PPE to use and when to use it. This should be taught upon hiring and strictly reinforced.
McLemore Building Maintenance uses PPE for several different tasks and jobs. When using tools, machines or equipment, or any chemical products that specify wearing eye protection, you must be sure to use the proper type. Different types of eye protection include safety glasses or safety goggles. If you might be exposed to dangerous chemicals or other hazards, cleanroom garments should be worn. These suits will protect any hazardous toxins from getting on your clothes. Hearing protection reduces your exposure to harmful noise while letting you hear machine warnings and conversation. This can include earplugs or earmuffs. It is essential to read the labels or the Safety Data Sheet to ensure you wear the correct type of PPE for any task.
#3: Proper Lifting Procedures
One of the most common ways to get an injury on the job is by lifting items incorrectly. Proper lifting procedures are essential because if you hurt your back severely, it can cause you to be out of work. People lift things every day, but many do not know how to do it correctly. Safe lifting is a critical part of your job and your everyday life. By practicing safe-lifting techniques at work, you can lift safely and prevent accidental strain and injury. If the load looks too heavy, ask a co-worker for help.
Make sure your footing is firm. If you are carrying the load for a distance, check the pathway to be sure it is clear of trip and slip hazards and obstructions. You should always lift with your legs and not your back muscles. When lifting, keep your back as straight as possible, maintaining the natural curvature of your spine – do not lean over to lift. While lifting or carrying, turn by moving your feet, not twisting your body. Bend at your knees instead of your waist. When you start to lift the load, hug it close to your body as you gradually straighten your legs to a standing position. Try to keep your back as straight as possible. Twisting your back can overload your spine and unevenly compress the discs between your backbones. Ensure your feet, knees and torso are pointed in the same direction when lifting and carrying.
If lifting things like that feels like it goes against human nature, McLemore has a few tricks that might be easier. Try to get as close to the load as possible. The further the weight is from the centerline of your body, the greater the strain imposed on your back. If need be, squat down to lift the load and pull it between your legs. This gets it closer to the center of your body and helps prevent the need to bend at the waist. Avoid picking up heavy objects below your knees. The most common cause of back injury is overloading. If you carry a load in one hand, such as when carrying a toolbox, place your free hand on the outside of your thigh and mentally “glue” it into position. Moving a heavy load while side bending can be just as stressful to the spine as bending forward. Tightening your stomach muscles helps prevent your spine from twisting. If you lift a load and need to place it off to one side, turn by moving your feet. Following these tricks when lifting things can help prevent many back injuries that may occur on the job.
#4: Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP)
Accidents happen, and some injuries are inevitable. It is imperative to take any blood or bodily fluid injury very seriously. Individuals who are infected with Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) may not show symptoms and may not know they are infectious. Therefore, all human blood and body fluids should be considered as if infectious, and all precautions should be taken to avoid contact. In the workplace, bloodborne pathogens (BBP) may be transmitted when blood or other infectious body fluids encounter mucous membranes (your eyes, nose, and mouth), non-intact skin (due to cuts, abrasions, burns, rashes, papercuts), or by handling or touching contaminated materials or surfaces. BBP can also be transmitted by “injection” under the skin via a contaminated sharp object or puncturing or cutting the skin, causing a wound.
When treating a wound with the potential for contacting any body fluids, McLemore Building Maintenance adheres to the “universal precaution” guidelines. Be sure to wear waterproof gloves when there is a chance of exposure to blood or body fluids. Also, ensure you wear the proper PPE, such as a face shield to protect your entire face and safety goggles for eye protection. All BBP exposures or potential exposures should be reported you your superior immediately. After treating a wound, wash your hands and affected areas immediately with warm water and soap. If any mucous membranes were exposed, flush them out with water. Finally, you should wash down areas that body fluids may have contacted with a mild solution of household water and bleach.
Your staff needs to know these procedures to stop infections from spreading. Hepatitis B Virus is more persistent than HIV and can survive for at least one week in dried blood on environmental surfaces. However, HIV will not survive for more than a few minutes when exposed to room temperature air and will usually die within seconds. A teaspoon of infected blood may contain over one billion HBV particles, while a teaspoon of infected HIV blood contains about 15 HIV particles. Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine. At present, there is no preventative vaccine for HIV. There is also no cure presently available for HBV and HIV.
#5: Electrical Hazards
Another common cause of injury is an electrical shock. Every year people die or are injured from electrical shocks. You can receive an electrical shock anytime part of your body comes into contact with an electrical source. This is quite common in commercial janitorial companies because they deal with a lot of equipment that requires electricity. An electrical shock can cause many different types of injuries. One injury can be a shock to your nervous system which could cause your lungs or heart to stop. Another injury can be severe burns due to the heating effect of the electrical current. A secondary injury can be caused from a normal body reaction from the shock. If you touch something that is hot or gives you a jolt, your body may move back involuntarily. This is especially important if someone is on a ladder, it could cause them to fall. If your work surface is wet or covered with metallic objects, and if you are sweaty, your body resistance may be so low that a shock as low as thirty volts could kill you. The only effective way to minimize shocks is to keep electrical equipment in good condition so that live current is fully contained. Since electrical hazards are so common and the injuries can be fatal, it is especially important to have safety procedures in place.
Some ways to avoid an electrical injury is by ensuring the electrical equipment is grounded. Do not use electrical tools that do not have a grounded plug unless they are double insulated and were not manufactured with a ground pin. Do not use electrical tools while standing on or in contact with metal ladders or work platforms. The metal will give electricity a path to ground and can lead to electrocution. Make sure to inspect flexible electrical cords and connections for damage before you use the equipment. Do not perform work on or close to energized electrical equipment unless the power is locked out and you are qualified to do this type of work. If you see defective electrical tools or service cords, take them out of service and report them to your supervisor immediately.
It is important to be alert of the electrical hazards that others may create for themselves and others. By implementing clear safety procedures for your staff, it can prevent accidents from happening. It is also important to properly train your staff on electrical hazards when they first start the job. OSHA’s electrical safety training is a requirement, but additional training should also be provided as an extra safety blanket.
You can’t stop injuries from happening, but education on best practices and proper procedures can significantly reduce the number. McLemore’s mission is to provide a safe, continuously improving work environment for all its employees, customers, and others. Having reoccurring reviews of safety procedures will ensure our staff is constantly reminded of what to do when an accident occurs. When the team has proper personal protective equipment and knows the correct lifting and bloodborne pathogen procedures, it can drastically reduce injuries on the job. Accidents can hurt, but safety doesn’t!
To learn more about how McLemore Building Maintenance promises to keep your building safe, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or (713) 528-7775!