The institutional and industrial cleaning industry provides essential products and services that are used to clean and maintain a healthy indoor environment for commercial establishments of all sizes and types, including schools, hospitals, day care centers, food service operations, office complexes, and other similar establishments. The industry includes manufacturers and distributors of cleaning products in addition to in-house and contracted service providers.
As in many industries, employees in the cleaning industry face a number of hazards. Cleaning industry employees may be exposed to potentially hazardous chemicals, may be asked to work with equipment that can present a danger and may be asked to perform various tasks that may cause an injury or illness if not performed properly. Further, the physical environment in which cleaning services are performed can present hazards.
OSHA standards and guidelines play a key role in eliminating or minimizing these hazards and are crucial to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. Cleaning Industry hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry.
For additional resources to help employers comply with and workers understand OSHA requirements, read OSHA's Employers page.
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential On-site Consultation program to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. Consultants in this program from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-site Consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
In Focus: Ebola
Resources on Cleaning Chemicals
- Protect Yourself: Cleaning Chemicals and Your Health Poster. OSHA Publication 3511, (2012).
- Protecting Workers Who Use Cleaning Chemicals. OSHA Publication 3512, (2012).
- Cleaning and disinfecting environmental surfaces in health care: Toward an integrated framework for infection and occupational illness prevention. American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), (2015). An integrated framework was developed to guide more comprehensive efforts to minimize harmful cleaning and disinfecting exposures without reducing the effectiveness of infection prevention.
Spanish Language Resources
- Spanish-Language Compliance Assistance Resources. OSHA. The page, intended primarily for English-speaking and bilingual users, provides links to OSHA's compliance assistance resources for Hispanic employers and employees.
- Asthma and Cleaning Products at Work. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Surveillance Program.