Nine Tips to Start a Janitorial Chemistry Safety Program

3M Chemistry Management SystemChemistry in the cleaning industry has improved greatly in recent years. Green chemistry is often safer to use. However, as a facility manager, it is important to remember that even green chemistry must be treated carefully and specifically. Hazard communications and documentation of your Cleaning Safety System is important to reducing liability and accidents:

1. Before letting a janitorial custodian begin work on his or her own, make sure they have training that includes basics like Hazard Communications and Bloodborne Pathogens. (For access to supportive slide presentations, guides and tests that can assist you - but not replace your efforts to provide a complete program - click here.) One national building janitorial service contractor was fined in the fall 2012 for lapses in training efforts. 

2. Document the training has been completed with each new janitor. Have a simple form for them to sign acknowledging the training, and file any test results.

3. Put together a notebook of chemistry records including the following:

  • All cleaning chemistry used in the facility by name, manufacturer and number
  • Storage sizes, quantities (average) and locations
  • Storage considerations (like temperature, exposure to ignition sources, light exposure, product life)
  • Location of MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets)
  • List of on-line MSDS resources/locations for emergencies
  • Guide to precautions and cleanup
  • List of emergency responders in case of serious accident, accidental mixing or fire

Keep one copy with the person in charge of safety, make at least one one available to janitorial staff and place one on-line where it can be accessed from anywhere.

4. Maintain current MSDS notebooks in every location products are stored. Connecting the notebooks to storage shelves can help keep them from "walking." Document how and who updates the MSDS sheets, and how custodians are notified of product changes before the product goes into use. If you have multiple shifts, more than one update process will probably be necessary. Make sure to appoint and document back-up safety persons who are familiar with procedures, first aid, how to respond to spills and other emergency measures.

5. Post signs as to where information is and who safety and back-up safety monitors are.

6. Post chemistry use and safety process cards in an area where they can be easily reviewed, or attach job cards with similar detailed instructions on janitorial carts. Multiple language explanations are recommended, however pictorial guides are perhaps even more effective.

7. Document the location of spill clean-up response materials. Make sure you have clean-up materials, tools and signage placed strategically in the facility. 

8. Make sure all in-use bottles are labeled. Called secondary labels, they are required, yet sometimes missing. To fill any gaps in your PUR-O-ZONE product line of in-use labels, contact any customer service representative at 800-727-7876. Appoint one of your safety monitors with the task of checking in-use bottles on a schedule.

9. Meet annually or more often to go over all aspects of the program with janitorial staff, safety monitors and representatives from each department.

Taking cleaning chemistry seriously not only reduces liability, but improves everyone's understanding of proper chemistry use and has the added benefit of improving their cleaning effectiveness.