Creating a Safer Work Environment for School Custodial Services

From vacuuming to restocking bathrooms, your school custodial staff performs a range of everyday services. No matter how routine, each of these tasks can present potential hazards that could result in work-related injuries and illnesses. 

Custodial personnel may sustain injuries as a result of a lack of adequate material handling equipment, poor condition of equipment, inexperience, unsafe acts, or inadequate training. Common injuries associated with the custodial duties include the following:

  • Back injuries, sprains, and bruises from slips, trips, and falls
  • Strains and sprains from heavy or awkward lifting
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Inhalation and absorption hazards from mixing or contact with chemicals
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Disease from exposure to blood-borne pathogens

Key activities that can help create a safer working environment for your staff include: 

Supervision: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 30 percent of employees who suffered work-related injury or illness had been on the job less than one year.[1] The risk of accidents decreases as employees gain experience and become more familiar with their environment and its hazards. Supervise new employees closely and help them recognize potential hazards and learn how to avoid them.

Training: Provide employees with training on the tasks they perform, equipment they use, and hazards associated with their jobs. Training should cover areas such as the care and use of personal protective equipment, how to read safety data sheets, and the proper way to label secondary containers. Provide training in both oral and written formats to help ensure full understanding.

Management support: If your workers have a clear understanding of your business’s commitment to safety, they will recognize that taking shortcuts or working in a hazardous manner will not be tolerated. Management support also encourages employees to correct and report hazards they encounter.

By providing your custodial staff with the necessary training and support, you can help ensure that employees perform their job duties safely and effectively.

[1]Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013, November 26). Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illness Requiring Days Away From Work, 2012. Retrieved from 

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The illustrations, instructions, and principles in this material are general in scope and, to the best of our knowledge, current at the time of publication. No attempt has been made to interpret any referenced codes, standards, or regulations nor to identify all potential risks or requirements.