Housekeepers do more than just clean - sometimes they cook, do laundry, care for children, or even provide companionship to aging parents. Before starting any job, be sure you have reviewed the possible health and safety hazards in your workplace, and are educated on how to handle them. Speak to your clients and ensure you have access to the tools you need to safely perform what is expected of you.
Below, we have comprised a list of potential health and safety hazards a housekeeper may face in their workplace:
- Chemicals that are commonly found in cleaning products: cleaning solutions made up of harsh chemicals can cause skin and eye irritations if the proper protection is not used when being handled.
- Exposure to bodily fluids and blood: you may come across dirty bandages, solid sheets, or diapers while cleaning around your clients space, or taking out their trash.
- Injury resulting from heavy lifting and performing repetitive tasks: correct form is important when lifting and brief stretching breaks are a good way to keep your body from becoming sore.
- Injury from falling, tripping, or slipping: be mindful of slippery floors, children's toys, and the family cat!
- Working with sharp objects or hazardous tools: take the proper safety precautions when using sharp tools, retrieving a casserole from the oven, or ironing the laundry.
Preventative measures to take before starting a new job
- Visit the space you are expected to work in prior to starting a job and look around for possible hazards, such as heights, heavy equipment, and broken electrical sockets.
Know the potential risks of your workplace and ensure you will be able to safely and comfortably perform the tasks your client is expecting.
If you see something concerning, bring it up to your client right away and ensure the hazard is removed, or that you have the proper tools to handle it.
- Do you have access to the proper equipment needed to complete the required services?
Keep your hands protected with gloves when using chemicals, and wash them often to reduce the spread of germs or infections you may come in contact with.
Dress in comfortable, breathable attire so you can freely move around your workspace without clothing restrictions while keeping your skin covered.
- Is there a first aid kit in your workplace and can you easily access it? If not, ask your client to get one for their home and be sure it is easily accessible to you in case you need it.
- Have an emergency contact and keep their information easily accessible; share it with your client so they can access it should they need to.
- Share your work schedule with someone close to you, especially if you are just getting to know a new client or are working alone.
- Be up-to-date with current training on chemical hazards, WHMIS and SDSs.
- Educate yourself on proper lifting techniques and make sure you are always practicing them when lifting.
- If you are performing repetitive tasks, be sure to take small breaks every 30-60 minutes. During your breaks, walk around and perform simple stretches.
For some simple hand and wrist stretches you can perform on the job, click here.
Lastly, we leave you with this. It is important to create safety procedures with your clients and include them in your contract. If you or someone else such as a child or the family cat, are injured, tell your employer straight away. Keeping open, ongoing communication with your clients is key to staying safe!