Electrical and Storage Hazards for Custodial Service Personnel

Your custodial staff works year-round to keep your clients’ offices, schools, hospitals, or hotels clean. Cleaning equipment and supplies and electrical equipment can present dangers to your employees, your clients, and other visitors. Follow these guidelines to help safeguard against electrical and storage hazards and related injuries.

Electrical Hazards 

Working with electrical equipment can present shock hazards and fire risks. Train all employees on how to safely operate the electrical equipment they use. The following checklist can help your staff identify and eliminate electrical hazards during operations:

  • Check all electrical equipment for missing ground prongs, loose or broken wiring, damaged insulation, or other defects prior to use.
  • Clearly mark any damaged equipment as “out of service” and report the condition to a supervisor.
  • Follow appropriate lockout procedures during equipment maintenance.
  • Use extension cords only when necessary and only on a temporary basis.
  • Ensure outlets are not overloaded with multiple power strips.
  • Do not plug one power strip into another.

Storage Hazards

The improper storage of supplies and equipment can also present hazards. Most custodial services store supplies in a locked, separate room or storage closet. Employees should follow good storage practices that conform to local fire codes to avoid any fire hazards.

Use this checklist to help identify and prevent hazards from improper storage:

  • Store flammable liquids in Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-approved flammable liquids cabinets in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.
  • Store chemical corrosives separately from flammables in a corrosive-liquids cabinet or designated room.
  • Store ordinary combustible materials, such as files, records, and trash, separately from flammable liquids.
  • Store materials in cabinets neatly and safely. If they are not reachable from the ground, provide a step stool.
  • Be sure that freestanding, open metal shelving units are stable and secured to the wall.
  • Store bottles on shelves at or below eye level.
  • Check that shelving has sufficient capacity to bear the load safely.
  • Do not store items on top of cabinets that might cause injury if they fell.
  • Keep materials piled no higher than 70 inches, and stabilize materials so they do not fall over.
  • Store heavy objects at mid-range to the body (30 to 50 inches).
  • Properly secure equipment that could be hazardous if knocked over.

Sharing and reinforcing these guidelines with all your custodial workers are important for helping keep them – and their workplace – safe.

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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.