Cleaning professionals, including engineering staff and janitors working in residential, commercial and industrial environments, are at constant risk of injury and illness because of routine exposure to dangerous chemical substances.
"Chemical exposure in humans can lead to a wide range of health problems. There are four potential avenues for entry into the body; inhalation (breathing), absorption (via skin contact), ingestion (eating) or injection, with the former two representing the most likely workplace risk.
Cleaning products fall into four broad categories. Each category includes various product types made from a diverse range chemical compounds – each capable of causing undesirable health conditions.
- Detergents; the most common group of cleaning chemicals.
- Sanitisers; chemicals that reduce bacterial contaminants.
- Disinfectants; contain chemicals that destroy or inactivate microorganisms that cause infection.
- Sterilising agents; are like disinfectants but used in specialised areas that demand sterile conditions, such as operating theatres.
Given the potential severity of health risks, employers must ensure any hand protection used is not only appropriate for the task and environment, but also offers suitable defence against the specific chemicals in the cleaning products employed.
To effectively minimise unwanted outcomes, assessment must go beyond identification of general hazards and isolate specific present chemical hazards, enabling a more informed glove selection process."