On an average day your staff will go to work and the time will pass routinely, without incident. But unexpected events can happen. Whether the incident is life threatening, a small spill, or the building loses electricity, you need to make sure your staff is prepared and knows how to respond.
When the lights go out. Most cleaning is normally done in the evening hours, so when the electricity goes out your staff will not be able to do their jobs. But that does not mean they should immediately leave the building. Many buildings have emergency lighting, but if it is totally dark, your staff should make their way to the entrance so they can see. Employees should contact their supervisor. They may have to use a cell phone as the building's phones may not be working. If an employee does not have a cell phone, they should wait 30 minutes to see if the electricity is restored. If not, then they can leave the building and go to a phone to contact a supervisor.
Spills. Cleaning companies deal with several different types of chemicals so you need to train your employees on what chemicals they are using, how to use the chemical correctly, and where to find the MSDS sheets. No matter how careful your employees are when using and handling cleaning products, there can occasionally be a spill.
Many cleaning products contain chemicals that can cause burns, eye irritations or skin irritations. Personal protective equipment (gloves and goggles) are to be worn when cleaning up spills. If there is a small spill, wipe it up with a clean cloth and allow it to dry. Barricade anything that cannot be wiped up immediately. If you don't have any barricade tape, use a chair or something that is easily seen and that people can't walk through. Then go clean up the spill. The method for cleaning the spill depends on the chemical that was spilled. The product's MSDS will contain information on how to clean up spills. If the employee has any question on dealing with a spill, he or she should immediately call his/her supervisor.
Falls. Often when someone falls they are embarrassed and want to act like nothing has happened. Encourage the person not to move until you are sure they are okay. If necessary, call for help. After helping the person check and see what caused the fall. If the fall was caused by a slick floor, a hole in the carpet, or loose tile, report it immediately. Fill out a written report of the accident as soon as possible after the incident.
Fire. Your cleaning crew should know where all fire extinguishers are located. They also need to know where emergency phone numbers are posted. If an employee comes across a small fire and knows how to use a fire extinguisher, they should put it out and then call their supervisor. If they are unable to safely put out the fire, employees should immediately leave the building, call the fire department, their supervisor, and the company's contact person.
Health Problems. Encourage sick employees to stay home. You do not want them to spread any germs or viruses to other employees.
There may be sudden health problems that come up that your employees should be trained to deal with:
Choking. If an employee does not have first aid training and there is no one nearby that has first aid training, they should call 9-1-1 and ask for help.
Heart Attacks. Make the victim comfortable and immediately call 9-1-1.
Blizzards and Heavy Snowfall. As most cleaning companies work in the evenings there is a good chance that your employees can get “snowed in". If your cleaning business is located in a part of the country where snow can be a problem, put together a plan to deal with snow emergencies. Make sure your employees know what is expected of them in case of sudden snowstorms.
Earthquakes and other natural disasters. Train your employees to remain calm in any emergency. They should also be aware of what the emergency procedures are for the buildings that they work in and follow those procedures.
Broken items. Unfortunately things break. No matter if the item is small, such as a picture frame, or a large piece of equipment such as a computer, the broken item needs to be cleaned up. Put the pieces in a box and leave a brief note. The employee should then call his supervisor and explain what happened. Train your employees to report all broken items.
No matter how careful we try to be unforeseen events can happen. We hope that nothing will happen while our employees are doing their job - that they are always safe and sound. However, it pays to be prepared by having an emergency plan as part of your company's overall training program. Investing a little time to train and prepare your employees can pay great dividends.
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!