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Janitors, Custodians, and Housekeepers Module 4: Musculoskeletal Hazards. This module:. Will demonstrate that janitors, custodians, and housekeepers may complete many different tasks.

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Presentation Transcript
this module
This module:
  • Will demonstrate that janitors, custodians, and housekeepers may complete many different tasks.
  • Is one in a series of modules that will discuss hazards janitors, custodians, and housekeepers may encounter.
  • Will cover musculoskeletal hazards and provide tips for prevention
    • Module 1 will cover chemical hazards from cleaning products
    • Module 2 will cover physical hazards
    • Module 3 will cover exposure to biological hazards
    • Module 5 will cover removing graffiti
    • A stand alone module entitled “Working Alone in Safety” may also be of interest
  • Provide sources of additional information.
janitors may do a variety of tasks

Sweeping and Mopping

Waxing floors

Cleaning bathrooms

Dusting furniture

Moving furniture

Emptying trash

Restocking supplies

Wiping counters


Unstopping drains/ repairing faucets

Mowing lawns

Removing stains

Heating/Air conditioning


Insect control

Maintaining and cleaning doors and windows

Delivery/Pick up of items

Extra security

Weather emergencies

Lab spills

Helping with disabled cars

Minor repairs

Painting and carpentry

Janitors may do a variety of tasks:
janitors work in a variety of buildings








Nursing Homes


Janitors work in a variety of buildings:
musculoskeletal and repetitive motion injuries can occur from
Musculoskeletal and repetitive motion injuries can occur from:
  • Overexertion (Heavy or awkward lifting)
  • Awkward postures (bent back, kneeling)
  • Repetitive movements (ex. Scrubbing)
preventing musculoskeletal injuries
Preventing musculoskeletal injuries

The following slides will provide ideas for preventing injuries when doing the following:

  • Moving and storing items
  • Filling and emptying liquids from containers
  • Using hand tools
  • Handling laundry, trash, and other bags
  • Cleaning small items in large sinks
  • Loading or unloading laundry
  • Wet cleaning and mopping
  • Vacuuming or buffing
  • General cleaning
use carts to store and transfer supplies
Use carts to store and transfer supplies
  • When moving cleaning supplies, equipment, and maintenance tools use carts.
  • Carts make it easier and quicker to access and store items.
use carts to store and transfer supplies1
Use carts to store and transfer supplies

Things to remember with carts:

  • Keep the most frequently used and heavy items within easy reach between hip and shoulder height.
  • Cart wheels should be made of a material that is compatible with the floor surface in your facility.
  • Cart handles that are vertical, with some horizontal adjustability will allow all employees to push at elbow height and shoulder width.
use carts to store and transfer supplies2
Use carts to store and transfer supplies
  • Carts should have wheel locks.
  • Handles that can swing out of the way may be useful for saving space or reducing reach.
  • Heavy carts should have brakes.
  • Balance loads and keep loads under cart weight restrictions.
  • Ensure stack height does not block vision.
when using carts and other equipment
When using carts and other equipment:
  • Push equipment, rather than pull, when possible.
  • Keep arms close to the body and push with whole body and not just arms.
  • Remove unnecessary objects to minimize weight.
  • Avoid obstacles that could cause abrupt stops.
  • Take defective equipment out of service.
  • Perform routine maintenance on all equipment.
use of spring loaded carts
Use of spring loaded carts

Spring-loaded carts automatically bring linen within easy reach.


  • These carts speed process for handling linen
  • They also reduce wear on linen from excessive pulling
  • Select a spring tension that is appropriate for the weight of the load
  • Carts should have wheel locks and height-appropriate handles that can swing out of the way
  • Heavy carts should have brakes

Spring loaded cart

use buckets with floor drain arrangements
Use buckets with floor drain arrangements

To fill and empty liquids from large containers:

  • Use buckets with floor drain arrangements:
    • Reduces risk of spills and slips
    • speeds process
    • reduces waste
  • Ensure that casters don't get stuck in floor grate
  • Use hose to fill bucket
  • Use buckets with casters to move mop bucket around.
  • Ensure casters are maintained and roll easily.
select and use properly designed hand tools
Select and use properly designed hand tools
  • Properly designed hand tools:
    • Speeds process
    • Enhances tool safety
    • Reduces waste
  • Handles should fit the grip size of the user
  • Use bent-handled tools to avoid bending wrists
  • Use appropriate tool weight
select and use properly designed hand tools1
Select and use properly designed hand tools
  • Use trigger bars rather than single finger triggers
  • Select tools that have minimal vibration or vibration damping devices
  • Have regular maintenance program for tools to keep blades sharp and edges and handles intact
  • Always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment

Trigger bar

equipment and practices for handling laundry trash and other bags
Equipment and practices for handling laundry, trash and other bags
  • Use handling bags that have side openings:
    • They allow for easy disposal without reaching into and pulling bags up and out.
    • Bags should be able to slide off the cart without lifting.
    • Limiting the size and weight of bags
    • Provide handles to further decrease lifting
  • Use garbage cans that have a frame

instead of a solid can to prevent plastic bags from sticking to the inside of the can.

  • An alternative is to use products on the inside of the garbage can that prevent the bag from sticking.
equipment and practices for handling laundry trash and other bags1
Equipment and practices for handling laundry, trash and other bags
  • Limit the size of the container to limit the weight of the load employee must lift and dump.
  • Place receptacles in unobstructed and easy to reach places.

Chutes and dumpsters

  • Position to minimize lifting. Installing chutes and dumpsters at or below grade level It is best to lower the to dumpster or chute rather than lift materials to higher levels
  • Provide automatic opening or hardware to keep doors open. This minimizes twisting and awkward handling.
cleaning small objects in a deep sink
Cleaning small objects in a deep sink

Place an object such as a plastic basin in the bottom of the sink to raise the work surface


Remove objects to be washed into a smaller container on the counter for scrubbing or soaking and then replace back in the sink for final rinse

Store inserts and containers in a convenient location to encourage consistent use

loading and unloading laundry
Loading and unloading laundry

Front-loading washers and dryers:

  • Speeds process for retrieving and placing items
  • Minimizes wear-and-tear on linen
  • Washers with tumbling cycles separate clothes, making removal easier.
  • For deep tubs, a rake with long or extendable handle can be used to pull linen closer to the door opening.
  • Raise machines so that opening is between hip and elbow height of employees.
loading and unloading laundry1
Loading and unloading laundry

If using top loading washers, work practices that reduce risk include:

  • Handling small loads of laundry
  • Handling only a few items at a time
  • Bracing your body against the front of the machine when lifting

If items are knotted in the machine, brace with one hand while using the other to gently pull the items free.

Ensure that items go into a cart rather than picking up baskets of soiled linen or wet laundry.

cleaning work methods and tools
Cleaning work methods and tools

When using water or liquid cleaning products:

  • Avoid lifting heavy buckets or lifting large, full bucket from sinks.
  • Use a hose or similar device to fill buckets with water.
  • Use wheels on buckets that roll easily and have functional brakes.
  • Ensure that casters are maintained.
  • Use rubber-soled shoes in wet areas to prevent slipping.
  • Frequently change mopping styles when mopping :
    • push/pull
    • figure 8,
    • rocking side to side
  • This alternates stress on muscles
vacuuming and buffing floors
Vacuuming and buffing floors

Both vacuum cleaners and buffers should have:

Lightweight construction

Adjustable handle heights

Triggers (buffer) long enough to accommodate at least the index and middle fingers

Easy to reach controls

Technique is important for both devices including:

Use of appropriate grips

Avoiding tight grips and for vacuuming, by alternating grip.

vacuuming and buffing floors1
Vacuuming and buffing floors
  • The use of telescoping and extension handles, hoses and tools can reduce reaching for low areas, high areas and far away areas
  • Maintain and service the equipment and change vacuum bags when ½

to 3/4 full

  • Vacuums and other powered devices are preferred over manual equipment for moderate-to-long duration use
  • Heavy canisters or other large, heavy equipment should have brakes
for all cleaning
For all cleaning
  • Use spray bottles and equipment that have trigger bars rather than single finger triggers
  • Avoid using the ring and little fingers
  • Alternate leading hand
  • Avoid tight static grip and
  • Use padded non-slip handles
for all cleaning1
For all cleaning

Use chemical cleaners and abrasive sponges to minimize scrubbing force.

(Ventilation of rooms, goggles, and gloves may be necessary when chemicals are used.)

  • Use kneepads when kneeling
  • Avoid bending and twisting
  • Use extension handles, step stools, or ladders for overhead needs
for all cleaning2
For all cleaning
  • If possible, clean objects at waist level rather than bending over them.
    • Examples:
      • Push wheelchairs up a ramped platform to perform cleaning work
      • Raise beds to waist level before cleaning
  • When sweeping or dusting use flat head dusters and push with the leading edge; sweep all areas into one pile and pick up with a vacuum.
resources used for this overview
Resources used for this overview:
  • OSHA Hospital eTool


  • International Labor Organization - International Hazard Datasheets on Occupation


additional resources
Additional Resources
  • WISHA Core Safety Rules (WAC 296-800)


(Basic safety and health rules needed by most employers in Washington State)

  • Workplace Safety and Health


  • WISHA Ergonomics Ideas Bank


  • Cleaning Fact Sheets


wisha consultation services
WISHA Consultation Services

Safety & Health program review and worksite evaluation

  • By employer invitation only
  • Free
  • Confidential
  • No citations or penalties
  • Letter explains findings
  • Follow-up all serious hazards

For additional assistance, you can call one of our consultants. Click below for local L&I office locations:


Thank you for taking the time to learn about safety and health and how to prevent injuries and illnesses.