Employees in janitorial services are in constant contact with harmful chemicals and other hazardous substances. Furthermore, as many as six percent of janitorial workers experience job-related injuries resulting from cleaning chemicals each year — that’s almost 400,000 people. So how do you keep your employees safe on the job? We’ll discuss laws to protect these workers, the reasons they need protection and finally we will provide the glove options appropriate for this industry.
OSHA Standard 1910.138 requires workers to use gloves to protect themselves from the absorption of harmful substances, serious cuts or lacerations, punctures, chemical and thermal burns, and temperature extremes.
To take it a step further, OSHA Standard 1910.138(b) states “Employers shall base the selection of the appropriate hand protection on an evaluation of the performance characteristics of the hand protection relative to the task(s) to be performed, conditions present, duration of use, and the hazards and potential hazards identified.”
Contact Dermatitis- Contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to a variety of cleaning products, soaps or simply causing skin irritation, burns, respiratory problems and rashes. Improper ventilation and poor air quality can exacerbate this problem. In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that calls to poison control centers for exposures to both cleaners and disinfectants had increased by 20 percent in 2020.
Communicable Diseases- Bodily fluid can carry anything from the common cold virus to bloodborne pathogens and infectious diseases. Many biological hazards put professional cleaners in danger, including bacteria, fungi, mold and pathogens. Custodians who work in health care environments deal with exposure to more harmful biological materials that can carry infectious diseases.
Sharp Objects- Employees may be exposed to needles, broken glass, nails, splinters, wire or sharp tools while on the job. In 2007, 262 out of 10,000 full time janitors were injured on the job more than twice the average injury rate for all workers in private industry, which was 122 out of 10,000 workers.
Chemical Burns- According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 16,550 nonfatal burns occurred in the workplace in 2020. Whether from a splash or from residual chemicals, accidents can result in chemical burns and that potential for injury remains in almost every work environment where chemicals are used. Even with robotics and automation handling more and more of the industrial jobs that once required workers to manually submerge parts in hazardous chemicals, the risk of hand injury from chemicals remains a major threat.
Most common workplace chemicals:
- PERCHLOROETHYLENE (PERC)
- QUATERNARY AMMONIUM COMPOUNDS (QUATS)
The Glove Options:
The main hazards your gloves will need to protect against are chemicals found in virtually all sorts of cleaners, from glass cleaners to harsh phosphoric acid, and blood borne pathogens. Custodians can become contaminated by handling anything with infected bodily fluids on different surfaces or sanitary napkins. For the sake of these hazards, you can see why it is so important to have proper protective gloves while working in janitorial and sanitation applications.
These gloves need to be especially durable to withstand hard scrubbing and sharp corners. They should also be thick and non-porous so that liquids don’t seep inside and touch the skin. Bloodborne pathogens can be a serious hazard for janitorial staff, so proper gloves are one of a worker’s best defenses. Check out our Janitorial Services glove options here:
Nitrile- Low-dermatitis textured gloves are another great option for janitors. Choose these gloves for a chemical-free, non-latex alternative. These gloves provide superior chemical resistance, standing up to harmful solvents such as 38 percent concentrated hydrochloric acid, 2-butoxyethanol and sodium hypochlorite. As always, perform on-site chemical resistance testing of any glove before use. These latex-free gloves are made from a durable synthetic rubber that is extremely puncture and tear resistant and perfect for heavier duty tasks.
Vinyl- These gloves are made from a synthetic polymer, and are common in both food service and janitorial services. Vinyl gloves themselves are great for those with allergies, and are available in sizes small through extra-large, usually in boxes of 100. They tend to have a “looser feel” on your hand. Compared to some of the other choices, however, vinyl glove tend to be less durable. If the wearer has long fingernails or wears rings, there is a greater chance for rips and tears.
- Extra Small – 7 inches
- • Small – 7.5 inches
- • Medium – 8 inches
- • Large – 9 inches
- • Extra Large – 10 inches
- • 2X-Large – 10.5 inches
Gloves play a significant role in the custodial services industry, not only in the fight against diseases but also to protect workers against hand exposure to harmful substances, chemicals, abrasions, cuts, and punctures. Legacy Medical Sales has a variety of options to keep your employees safe and compliant with OSHA requirements. Not sure which glove is the best “fit” for your workplace? Simply contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-446-7310 and we will work with you on a custom solution.