Two Steps to Healthier School Housekeeping
Step 1. Prevent dirt and grime by anticipating people and their messes.
Step 2. Purchase healthier, safer cleaning products that perform well and are cost effective.
Step One: Prevent dirt and grime using preventative maintenance practices to keep normal dirt and litter under control. An example of such a practice is to place 2-3 ‘walk-off’ mats at each entrance (as wide as the doorway and twice as long, often 6 x 12) and use trash cans at entrances to reduce oil, sand and salt, mud and litter in the halls. For a useful checklist of 21 such practices, contact Healthy Schools Network (see below).
Step Two: Consider human health and the environment when making purchasing decisions about custodial cleaning supplies. Evaluate products before you buy. For a detailed checklist of important issues to include in your evaluation contact Healthy Schools Network (see below). Here are a few guidelines from the checklist:
* Avoid Hazardous Ingredients. Look for products that contain no Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) defined hazardous ingredients, and that do not contain chemicals that must be reported under Superfund Amendments and reauthorization Act (SARA). Both OSHA and SARA information can be found on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and on product labels.
MSDS sheets are the manufacturer’s summary of the potential hazards of a product. MSDSs are the most reliable existing source of guidance for choosing less toxic cleaning products. Manufacturers are required by OSHA to create and distribute MSDSs for products that may present an occupational hazards.
OSHA also requires that warning labels be placed on containers of hazardous materials in the workplace. Choose products that have the lowest hazard potential, and are not known, probable or possible carcinogens, or do not affect the nervous system, reproductive organs, lungs, liver, or kidneys.
You can download fact sheets listing specific chemicals to us and avoid in cleaning products and why, from The Janitorial Products P2 Project. Fact sheets include:
Toilet Cleaning, Hard Floor Care, Carpet Care, Restroom Cleaning, Glass Cleaning, Metal Cleaning, and Disinfectants.