3 Steps to Avoid OSHA Penalties and Protect Your Cleaners

Safety violations can cost your company tens of thousands of dollars — not to mention expose your cleaners to hazards.

As a cleaning contractor, you know failure to train your employees on things like how to properly work with hazardous materials and label bottles, and failure to provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE), can all incur fines of $7,000 or greater.

When dealing with OSHA, you don’t want to mess around — especially when you add in the complexities associated with the current pandemic. And just because you’re in the cleaning industry doesn’t mean you are free from risks. It’s up to you to have a proper safety program in place to keep your workers safe and limit company liability. Here are three steps you should take to keep your operations compliant.

Know your risks

Our tendency in the cleaning industry is to assume our risks are minimal. And compared to other industries, that may be the case. However, the BSC industry does come with certain risks. The first step towards legal compliance is to understand what risks your workers face and commit to mitigating those risks through a proper safety training program. A few of the risks your team may face on a daily basis include:

  • Contact with bodily fluids which may contain blood-borne pathogens
  • Potentially hazardous cleaning chemicals
  • Electrical hazards
  • Lifting hazards

Have a safety program in place

You must have a safety training program in place. Let me repeat… you must have a safety training program in place. While you can’t train every worker on every possible safety risk, you can provide your team with practical training to help limit the biggest risks you face. So, don’t be overwhelmed. If you don’t have anything in place (or nothing effective), you just need to start with a simple program, such as the one referenced in this article.

Ensure everyone is trained

Many of us are guilty of creating a safety training program but never implementing it. We have something nice on paper, but the workers in the field are rarely trained. Whatever your safety training program, make sure everyone is being trained. This is why I recommend keeping the program simple, practical, and easy to implement.

What about COVID-19?

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early this spring, new questions have arisen about risk, safety and the responsibility of janitorial companies. While I’m not aware of any specific OSHA-related rules applying to janitorial contractors, there are certainly steps to take to ensure safety and limit liability. Here are two articles and one webinar to learn more about how janitorial contractors should respond to COVID-19 and safely navigate the current pandemic.

Cleaning for Coronavirus – How Janitorial Companies Should Respond
COVID-19 Resources for BSC
Coronavirus Webinar for BSCs – 6 Issues to Navigate


As a 3rd generation owner, Jordan Tong has used various leadership and strategic approaches to grow the business from $1.7 Million to $15M since starting in 2007.  Jordan also offers 1-1 consulting through his company Elite Business Coaching and leads their unique and powerful online Janitorial Mastermind Group.