Safety Corner: Safe spring cleaning

Spring is here, and for many it is a fitting time to organize and clean their homes and workspaces.

Whether it be an office or shop area, a substation yard or just around the house; stay safe as you clean and remember the following points before you start.

Home cleaning chemicals

The National Safety Council suggests reading labels when choosing cleaning products for your home, especially if you have children.

Watch for three words on chemical containers: “Caution” signals a low level of possible harm. “Warning” identifies a higher level of potential risk, like serious illness or injury. “Danger” is the highest level of risk and can include mouth, throat or stomach damage if swallowed, in addition to skin tissue damage, blindness or death.

Because of the risks related to household cleaning products, always wear personal protective clothing, gloves and safety glasses as the manufacturer’s label recommends.

Green alternatives

Consider using green cleaning alternatives, which are safer and less harmful than harsh chemicals. Some green cleaners have no odor and clean just as effectively. They can also be better for the environment.

Cleaning products at work

Section 7.7.1 of WAPA’s Power System Safety Manual states: “Use only approved cleaning solvents for which Safety Data Sheets are available. Follow the precautions listed on the SDS.” It also states that these safeguards may include adequate ventilation and wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses and clothing.

Slippery when wet

Slips, trips and falls are some of the most common cleaning hazards. Warn occupants when cleaning floors at home, and when at work post “wet floor” signs. If you spill something, wipe it up immediately to prevent a slipping hazard.

Keep areas free of clutter while you reorganize and move things around. Also, keep walkways clear of extension cords, files, boxes, stacked items and other tripping hazards.

Safe climbing

Do not stand on chairs or climb furniture to reach higher places. Use a ladder and make sure it is the correct type and size for the job. Place it on a firm foundation, climb using three points of contact and do not stand on the top rung or step. Set extension ladders one foot away from the resting surface for every four feet of height. Wear slip-resistant footwear when climbing, and don’t lean out or overreacwhile working on a ladder.

Proper lifting

When lifting manually, bend at the knees and keep your back straight. Use smooth, balanced motions and avoid rapid, jerky movements. Ask for help when moving large or awkwardly shaped objects and use hand trucks, carts or pallet jacks to move heavy items.

Avoid strains

Reduce the chance of injury by avoiding or minimizing pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, overreaching and twisting. These movements can be complicated by cramped work areas, poor body positioning, heavy lifting and the moving of awkwardly shaped items.

The change of season is an appropriate time for cleaning. Protect yourself and others as you do.

Caution

Never mix cleaning products containing ammonia and bleach. This can cause the release of dangerous gasses that may cause severe lung damage.

Reminder

Always store cleaning products out of the reach of children. If they are ever ingested, immediately call the Poison Control Hotline at 800.222.1222.

Positive effects of spring cleaning on the mind and body

Spring cleaning helps improve our surroundings; however, did you know that it also positively affects the mind and body? Research shows that anxiety and stress are linked to cluttered surroundings.

“A study by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute discovered that in disorganized spaces, people are more stressed, distracted, and less productive,” according to Psychology Today. “Clutter can be visually distracting and serve as a nagging reminder of tasks and chores undone.”

The same study said that cleaning can positively affect mental health, giving people, “a sense of mastery and control over their environment.”

This is because we increase our self-esteem as we clean, which causes an energy shift that opens us up psychologically. This process can be enhanced if as one cleans, they imagine clearing their mind of mental clutter such as regrets, conflict and other negative thoughts.

Strengthening personal wellness through cleaning and organizing also has other positive health benefits, according to Studyfinds.org. They include improved relaxation and sleep; decreased stress and anxiety; heightened focus and increased productivity.

All that and exercise too. Gardening, vacuuming and even ironing can burn 150 to 300 calories an hour, and that is just a start.

Note: Information in this article was adapted from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Robbins is a technical writer who works under the Cherokee Nation Strategic Programs contract.

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Last modified on March 8th, 2024