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Workplace hazards for custodians, janitors and housekeepers

Imagine how dirty shopping centers, schools, offices and hotel rooms would be without cleaning staff. Custodial workers are responsible for keeping environments safe and people healthy. But they face numerous risks every day in their working environments.

These hazards often cause injuries, illnesses and death. Here are a few prevalent workplace hazards that custodial workers deal with on a regular basis. 

Biological hazards

Many biological hazards put professional cleaners in danger, including bacteria, fungi, mold and pathogens. Cleaners who work in health care environments deal with exposure to more harmful biological materials that can carry infectious diseases. Janitors must have the proper protective gear such as gloves and masks to safeguard themselves.

Repetitive motions and overexertion

Janitors partake in a variety of activities that can result in cumulative trauma:

  • Pushing housekeeping carts
  • Carrying buckets of water
  • Mopping
  • Standing for long periods of time
  • Vacuuming

These tasks can result in damage to soft tissues in various parts of the body. Common complications include lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis. Custodians should receive proper training for ergonomic techniques. 


Professional cleaners must use and handle cleaning chemicals on a daily basis. These substances often contain toxic and health-threatening ingredients. Touching or inhaling some of these chemicals can cause severe health issues. Common problems that result from chemical exposure include skin irritation, burns, respiratory problems and rashes. Improper ventilation and poor air quality can exacerbate this problem. Training, protective gear and ventilation can help reduce chemical exposure. 

Fall hazards

Janitors may risk falling when encountering wet floors and spills. Clutter, poor lighting and loose wires can cause cleaners to trip. Sometimes, custodians must work from heights or use ladders. A fall from a high area can result in a severe injury. 

All custodial workers deserve safety and respect. Thankfully, workers' compensation exists for those workers who sustain an injury or illness because of their jobs.

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