Custodial Staff Face Health Hazards


Recently, the custodial staff has suffered injuries due to the improper disposal of sharp objects throughout the school campus.

According to the Director of Environmental Health and Safety Michael Malloy, these objects include diabetic testing lancets, hypodermic needles and several shards of broken glass. These hazards were found in one of the administrative buildings and even in a residence hall.

Injuries have put the custodial staff at risk because of the bacteria that can exist on these objects, putting their health and safety in danger of infection and sickness, Malloy said.

“There is a possibility of a skin infection, and if bodily fluids are present on these sharp objects, there is a higher risk for more serious viral infections, such as Hepatitis A and B that are blood-borne,” Dr. Richard Ordway Jr., director of the Student Health Center, said.

He said there is also a risk for more consequential diseases that can include HIV, which in time can lead to AIDS.

Malloy said the best way to stop such custodial staff injuries is to take the necessary preventative measures. To dispose of these items properly, bring the designated containers to the Student Health Center, taped shut and marked with the student’s name.

Broken glass, however, should be placed in a cardboard box labeled “Caution: Broken Glass,” taped shut and placed next to the regular trash containers, Malloy added.

For treating a puncture wound, Dr. Ordway recommends washing it with soap and warm water immediately. If the injury still seems in need of more urgent care, he said the next best option is to go to the emergency room and be evaluated professionally by a doctor, who would then take the necessary steps and prescribe antiviral medicine  if necessary.

There are also lesser known factors that play into the safety of custodians who work in the residence halls, which can affect their ability to work. Deyo Hall custodian Gabrielle Banks said too much heavy lifting is another problem that must be addressed by the staff.

She said many people don’t realize that throwing their garbage away in the trash rooms sometimes makes the containers too heavy to lift and carry to the Dumpsters outside.

“It’s very unfortunate that the custodians are being injured as a result of people being careless sometimes,” Banks said. “What usually happens is that too much trash, including bottles, are stuffed almost to the brim in only one garbage bag and it is hard to keep it all in one place without it all spilling over. It really puts a heavy strain on our backs and there have been times where we have had to drag the garbage on the floor to bring it outside because it’s almost impossible to lift.”