Keeping It Clean

(information from the desk of Norma White, United Staffing Associate’s Director of Health & Safety)

Sanitation is a necessary part of every food processing and industrial facility. Unfortunately, it is also a job function that is at the highest risk for injuries. Often sanitation duties take place at the end of a work shift, when an employee may be exhausted and in a rush to leave the facility. During this period of time, an employee may not be as mentally sharp as when s/he began the work shift....this is when an accident is likely to occur or an important task is forgotten. For example, while completing sanitation duties, an employee may forget to properly turn off machinery or fail to properly reconfigure machine parts after cleaning them. The latter can lead to unintended consequences for the next shift if the machine malfunctions, which may cause a disruption to production or business.

Certain sanitation duties require that a sanitation work crew be present at a job site overnight, often working 8 to 12 hours per shift, causing the workers to adopt day-sleep habits. For those with families of young children or other commitments during the day, this may result in a lack of sleep leading up to the start of a graveyard shift. Possible sleep deprivation coupled with the demands of a sanitation function may also lead to increased exposure for injury.

The nature of a sanitation job exposes the worker to chemicals, equipment, and/or physical labor. The challenges of a sanitation crew are varied based on the specifics of the job and worksite. Most sanitation positions require the use of heavy hoses, ladders, catwalks, and pressure washers. A single unsafe action may result in severe consequences. The above-listed factors pertaining to sanitation work should be regularly evaluated by an employer to be sure that the sanitation crew is operating in a safe capacity, because keeping a worksite clean is not as simple or “easy” as it may look. Maintaining safe work practices that lawfully takes into account an employee’s physical aptitude for the job, monitoring of their work habits (i.e., arriving to work rested and prepared), and ensuring satisfactory maintenance of machinery and personal protective equipment is fundamental to keeping it clean! For more information on jobsite safety, visit