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Cleaning the office? Watch out for chemical exposure

In most offices, it’s common to have a cleaning crew come in. Sometimes, the cleaning crew is a part of the staff and takes steps to keep the restrooms, floors and other areas of the business clean throughout the day.

One thing that can cause problems for some employees is when the cleaners use bleach to sanitize the property. Bleach can irritate the eyes, lungs and skin. For workers with asthma or other lung conditions, the fumes from bleach could lead to the exacerbation of their symptoms.

Bleach: Is it too toxic for the workplace?

Bleach is an important chemical, because it can destroy many viruses and bacteria with just a small wipe of a rag or swing of a mop. Safely working with bleach is essential, though, because using it in an unsafe way could lead to serious injuries.

For example, did you know that you can’t mix bleach with ammonia? Doing so can create a noxious gas called chloramine. Chloramine can harm the lungs and lead to death in some cases.

Bleach is also harmful to the skin and can burn you in higher concentrations. If you’ll be using it, you should wear protective gloves, goggles and face shields to protect your skin, eyes and lungs.

How can you be safer at work when cleaning is taking place?

If you want to be safer when your workplace is being cleaned, one of the best things you can do is to make sure everyone has the right personal protective equipment. Check the labels of all the cleaning supplies to be sure that ammonia and bleach are not being mixed, since those fumes could poison everyone in the office if produced in large enough quantities.

Finally, consider having cleaners work at the end of the day, so most people aren’t in the office. Doing this will minimize fumes during the weekday and the risk of bleach getting on people’s skin or clothing.

If you are injured because of working with these chemicals, remember that workers’ compensation may be available to you. You need to seek appropriate medical treatment, so you can focus on getting better.