Janitor Closets: Safe, Clean, Organized

Safety and cleanliness in the workplace starts with well-organized janitors closets. Hospitals, universities, apartment complexes, and office buildings are all places that rely on an efficient and effective janitorial staff to keep things running smoothly. But this can only be accomplished if the supplies for that staff are well-organized and kept properly stored.

Janitor closets are often the unseen source chemical hazards and accidents. The first step to preventing a mishap is ensuring your cleaning staff has ample space for all their equipment and required products. When considering how much space to devote, be sure to include enough space for extra supplies and room for your employees to maneuver.

Material safety data sheets (MSDS) should be posted in your janitor closets for all chemicals used in your workplace. Make sure your cleaning staff is familiar with these, and know where to find them in the event of a mishap. As well, make sure employees are aware of proper disposal procedures for any hazardous materials. This should be a part of their training, and is your responsibility as an employer to make sure they have all the information they need to prevent mishaps.

Well-equipped janitor closets should have:

  • All appropriate MSDS sheets
  • Proper labels on all bottles
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • First aid supplies
  • Extra supplies
  • Goggles, gloves, aprons, or any other personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary
  • A sink and tap with proper drainage
  • Adequate space for proper storage of all equipment
It is vital that janitor closets not be overlooked when considering health and safety in the workplace. A working sink and proper drainage ensure buckets of cleaner are not left out; ample shelf space and a proper workbench will prevent supply bottles with dangerous materials from being left out. If there is a place for everything, it's more likely to be put away, and clean, organized storage makes it easier to find what you need in the event of an emergency.

Health and Safety inspectors frequently check janitor closets as part of their regular examination of facilities. They look for strict adherence of health and safety regulations, such as MSDS sheets, proper storage of dangerous chemicals, enough ventilation, a clutter-free work area and enough space for all the equipment the janitorial staff requires. These are all simple precautions that can save your company a lot of money and prevent workplace injury.

Most importantly, it is vital that all cleaning staff receive the appropriate training, and that they are familiar with all the janitor closets in the building. Don't leave this up to more experienced employees: start good habits and safe procedures yourself by taking the time to train your new staff. This way you can ensure they understand and adhere to your company's standards and policies.

It might be the smallest room in the building, but a well-organized janitor's closet can make all the difference when it comes to safety and cleanliness.

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community for owners and managers of cleaning companies who want to build a more profitable and successful cleaning business. Sign up for Trash Talk: Tip of the Week at http://www.TheJanitorialStore.com and receive a Free Gift!

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