The Chicago Occupational Accident Attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent Injured Janitorial Workers
Janitorial Workers, custodians, and junior custodians typically work in commercial establishments including office buildings, retail stores, and manufacturing/industrial plants. They ensure that the building remains clean and orderly by providing various duties over an eight-hour shift. In addition to performing routine inspections, the janitorial worker usually documents inspection, and any maintenance activity carried out during the shift. Common duties and tasks associated with cleaners and janitors involve:
- Clean all floors by vacuuming, sweeping, scrubbing and mopping.
- Service and clean the restroom and resupply sundry items and paper towels.
- Remove trash including cleaning every ashtray, wastebasket and garbage container.
- Ensure that every fixture and piece of furniture is cleaned and polished.
- Dust the machines, walls, furniture, desktops, and equipment.
- Clean the glass partition, windows, and mirrors using a sponge, cleaner, and squeegee.
- Make minor repairs to the HVAC system including changing filters.
- Shampoo or steam clean carpeting and rugs.
- Use cleaning solutions according to manufacturer's specifications when formulating detergents.
- Maintain floors by stripping, sealing, finishing, waxing and polishing surfaces.
- Perform interior restoration when damaged by water, smoke, and fire.
- Maintain chimney flues and stacks.
- Move heavy equipment, supplies, furniture, and machinery when cleaning.
- Perform snow removal from the building's exterior areas including the parking lot, driveway, and sidewalks using snow shovels, snow blowers, snowplows, and chemicals that melts snow.
- Restore areas decorated for banquets and meetings, along with seasonal decorations.
- Fumigate specific areas by spraying insecticides to prevent infestation of rodents and pests.
- Perform emergency cleaning upon request.
- Perform non-routine cleaning jobs upon request.
- Identify any possible need for repair and report appropriately.
Every qualified janitor or cleaner must be knowledgeable of the industry's standard methods, tools, equipment, and practices used to clean the interior and exterior of commercial buildings. This knowledge includes a comprehensive understanding of occupational hazards any associated rules and regulations involving safety.
Knowing how to work safely is crucial to some janitorial workers who perform their duties in nursing homes, hospitals, and other clinical settings. Safety is critical because they might be exposed to dangerous hazards including contagious infections, sharp objects, and other biohazards. In these environments, the custodians and janitors must undergo comprehensive educational training programs to understand the need for wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to safeguard against serious, life-threatening contagious diseases.
Common Janitorial Workers Hazards
According to the data collected by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), there are significant health hazards that are common to janitorial workers that include:
- Toxic Substances and Chemical Hazards – Sanitizers and disinfectants used in the cleaning industry reduce or destroy microorganism growth like bacteria, molds and viruses, many which cause infections.
- Cleaning Supplies – Many of the cleaning supplies used in janitorial services can be harmful to health. Exposure to liquids, mists, or gases of hazardous cleaning chemicals can irritate the lungs, throat, nose, and eyes.
- Electricity – Many janitorial workers are oblivious to the potential of suffering electrical injury and the work environment, while handling of equipment improperly. These problems can involve the use of worn or damaged flexible cords and extension cords that expose the worker to the potential of electrocution.
- Slips and Falls – Many of the injuries that occurred in janitorial work are the result of a slip and fall or back injury caused by heavy lifting. Shoes was without slip-resistance soles or ill-fitting shoes have the potential of causing back injuries. Many of the slipping injuries can be avoided by placing warning signs and slippery surfaces to ensure that no other employee or visitor walks on the wet floor.
- Blood-Borne Pathogens – Exposure to infectious microorganisms (blood-borne pathogens) and human blood cause many diseases including hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Janitors working in clinical settings including in hospitals and doctors' offices are highly susceptible to blood-borne pathogens when struck by needle sticks and other sharp instruments.
- Falls – Many janitors and windows, higher shelves in other areas that require the use of a ladder or other equipment to reach great heights. OSHA instructs employers to safeguard their employees by providing fall protection equipment and gear.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Janitors and cleaners working in doctor's offices, hospitals and other medical settings must often wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when around contagious diseases and infectious bacteria/viruses to avoid exposure.
- Needlestick Prevention – Garbage and trash collected from medical environments including hospitals and doctors' offices can contain bloodstained needles, sharp objects, and glass pieces. The worker must be especially careful if the products have not been disposed of properly. OSHA encourages trash collectors to wear sharps-protected gloves and to keep all bags away from the body until the bag is disposed of properly.
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – The colorless, odorless, and tasteless poisonous gas of carbon monoxide can be deadly. It is often the byproduct of burning any carbon-containing material including natural gas, protein, oil, kerosene, wood, coal, or gasoline. For janitors, exposure to carbon monoxide typically occurs in poorly ventilated areas were fossil fuels are being burned.
- Exposure to Lead – Cleaners and Janitors working in manufacturing plants, around ammunition, building materials, radiation shielding, fishing weights, batteries, and other products can be exposed to lead, which is known to cause various health issues including gastrointestinal problems, neurological effect, kidney disease, and anemia.
- Mold – Dangerous mold caused by fungi can grow outdoors and indoors year-round. The hazard of mold occurs when millions of spores are released into water and air or on insects. The mycotoxins involved can produce negative effects on the health of the worker that causes significant respiratory conditions, sinusitis, asthma, and allergies.
- Repetitive Hand Motion – Continually using the hands and wrists and repetitive motions when washing windows, dusting or other cleaning procedures can cause our MRI (Repetitive Motion Injury) after just a few years or decades.
OSHA recommends that all janitorial workers and cleaners take the responsible route and conduct safety training sessions throughout the year. Training should occur anytime a new employee joins the team. Education is important because the incident rate of serious accidents is very high among janitorial workers.
Janitorial Workers' Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016, data concerning the employment statistics of the previous year, 53,100 Janitorial Workers were on the job in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. On average, Janitorial Workers in northeastern Illinois earn $30,900 every year (mean wage), which is $14.86 per hour. The wage is significantly higher the national averages. See Chart
Janitorial Workers Fatalities and Injuries
Janitor workers have a high incident rate of serious injuries and fatalities, where most deaths are associated with falling from a great height. Below is just a small sample of cases involving the death of a janitorial worker who all died while performing their duties.
- Case 1: Virginia – In August 1995, a janitorial worker was killed in a lift accident that tipped over, causing the victim to fall 14.5 feet before hitting the concrete surface of a shopping mall parking lot. The 51-year-old male victim was dusting drain lines (water pipes) along with the co-worker while both were suspended from the ceiling of the parking garage. When the lift tipped over, and the victim fell, the man struck his head on the hard pavement. First responders transported the victim to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries later that evening.
- Case 2: October 2005 – A janitorial worker was cleaning windows when he died after he fell six stories of a commercial building's balcony. Before the incident, the male worker and a co-worker rigged their system with safety lines before climbing over the buildings balcony edge. The co-worker watched the victim fall to his death.
- Case 3: Massachusetts – In February 2006, two male window washers fell to their death after their system failed and they fell approximately 90 feet while wearing their personal fall arrest systems that "were attached to a single horizontal wire rope static line that was improperly secured [before] the incident." When the victims fell, the static line failed. Witnesses called 911, and first responders transported the victims to the hospital where they were pronounced dead. OSHA investigated the accident and concluded certain actions needed to be taken to prevent the life-threatening problem from occurring in the future.
- Case 4: Ohio – A cleaning maid died after falling 12 feet through a floor opening. The seventy-one-year-old victim was working around an access door "to a lower-level boiler room [that] had been left open on the floor of the hall to the showers." A maintenance mechanic had been working on the heating plant at the time that he did the municipal swimming pool. The mate had been walking backward while mopping the floor and the men's showers and fell through the opening to the cement floor 12 feet below. First responders transported the victim to the local trauma center hospital in a neighboring State. The cleaning maid "died seven days later from an injury sustained in the fall."
- Case 5: California – A janitor succumbed to his injuries after falling from a personal platform that was resting on forklift prongs. The fifty-year-old janitorial worker had been performing his duties while "leaning out during a wall washing operation" when the "platform tilted, and the decedent fell over the platform's guardrail" and dropped 12 feet before hitting the concrete floor. The investigators determined that the janitor "was not authorized to drive the forklift and, according to the company management the two employees, had never driven the forklift [before] this incident. The guardrail was 35 inches above the platform's base [and] there was no means to secure the platform to the forks or master. The decedent was not wearing fall protection."
Any employee working for a janitorial service that suffers injuries while doing their job likely qualifies to receive workers compensation benefits to replace some or all of their medical bills and time away from work. However, there may be other individuals, entities or companies that are also legally responsible for the janitorial worker's job-related injury.
In these incidences, an attorney working on behalf of the victim can collect evidence, speak to witnesses, and make the determination whether to file a claim against the third-party that might also be legally liable for the injury or illness. Filing a claim will ensure that the injured victim in the family members receives adequate compensation to cover all their expenses including pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
How to Obtain Compensation to Ensure Your Financial Recovery
Our attorneys help injured Janitorial Workers obtain monetary recovery under the IL Worker's Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits. We provide Free Case Reviews and a No-Win/No Fee Guarantee.
If you retain our occupational injury law firm, our team of legal experts can ensure your family receives adequate compensation to recover financially from your damages fully. In addition to assisting you with your Worker's Compensation benefits, we will review your case to determine if other parties are also at fault and required to pay you additional funds.
Our law firm working on your behalf can handle your entire compensation claim including filing a case, gathering evidence, negotiating a settlement or presenting the lawsuit in front of a judge and jury. No upfront payments are necessary because our personal injury attorneys accept all compensation claims and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements.
This arrangement postpones payment of legal fees until the law firm has successfully resolved the case through a negotiated out of court settlement or by winning a jury trial award. We guarantee if we are unsuccessful at winning, you do not pay!