Importance of PPE in the Cleaning Industry

by Lawton Brothers | May 22, 2020

PPE: Personal Protective Equipment

As we mentioned briefly in our last blog, personal protective equipment, or PPE, is vital to safety in the workplace. The OSHA Personal Protective Equipment Standard requires that PPE is “provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition whenever it is necessary” to protect employees and workers from hazards.

As such, it is the responsibility of employers to conduct full workplace hazard assessments and provide necessary equipment to employees at no charge. This assessment must be a written certification that determines whether workplace hazards require PPE and can detail the appropriate measures to be taken. Once the assessment is conducted, employers must also ensure that employees are trained on the proper use of materials and that those materials are well maintained and replaced as necessary.

With so much responsibility resting on your shoulders, where do you start? Well, while personal protective equipment is vital to healthy employees, it shouldn’t replace work practice or administrative controls. Rather, in conjunction, PPE and controls provide maximum safety for employees as well as customers.

For many people, the term personal protective equipment instantly conjures images of gloves and face masks. But PPE is also: safety glasses, earplugs, hard hats, shoes, respirators, vests, and so much more! PPE is any clothing or equipment worn to reduce the exposure to workplace hazards.

PPE IN THE CLEANING INDUSTRY

In the cleaning industry, we come across quite a few needs for protective equipment. In many businesses, cleaning personnel don’t maintain the facility as their primary job function. In these cases, employers may have to train a broader number of staff on proper practices.

For example, when cleaning the store restroom, one might clean toilets, discard trash, empty the sharps container, clean surfaces, and mop. In just one cleaning, this person has been exposed to a variety of cleaning chemicals, sharp objects, potential blood-borne pathogens, and an alarming number of bacteria. Without the proper equipment, we’re in for a lot of trouble.

For general cleaning purposes, proper equipment includes:

  • Disposable gloves,
  • Face masks,
  • Slip-resistant, closed-toe shoes,
  • Aprons,
  • Protective eyewear, and floor safety signs.

Okay, suppose we have all of the proper equipment and we’re using it correctly. Things can still go wrong. After all, accidents happen all the time.

EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

Accidents are unavoidable – that’s why it’s important to have emergency procedures in place. Now, I know what you may be thinking: how are emergency procedures related to PPE? Good question!

If a bottle of chlorine bleach is spilled, who is allowed to clean it? Do you use a regular mop or towel? And how do we clean or dispose of those items? All of these questions are answered by your emergency procedures. All staff should be aware of where SDS sheets are located and be informed of the appropriate actions to take should an accident happen. One very important way to help minimize the number of accidents is maintenance of supplies.

PPE: A HABIT

Being safe and using proper equipment extends far beyond any checklist – it is continual good habits and awareness. Avoid buying equipment and supplies that can lead to injuries or unsafe working conditions by bringing this awareness to smaller items such as wheels/casters that allow equipment to roll with ease, adjustable poles for different heights, and a variety of mop heads for different cleaning products. Buying the appropriate cleaning products, keeping spare products and parts on hand, and choosing better materials can save time and prevent injury.

HOW LAWTON BROTHERS CAN HELP

Safety in the workplace is no joke – that’s why it’s always best to consult a professional. At Lawton Brothers, we want to keep your employees safe while also providing you with cost-efficient solutions. Call us today at 800.432.0813 for a consultation and more information on using proper equipment when cleaning.

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