Cleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 23rd March 2023 Issue no. 1057
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Why cleaning workers must pay attention to 'signal words' & what they mean
The Bureau of Labour Statistics in the US, reports that cleaning workers face about 50,000 injuries each year, making cleaning the 16th most dangerous profession in the country.
While many of these injuries are due to repetitive or awkward movements that stress the musculoskeletal system, many of these injuries result from not using cleaning solutions properly.
"One of the ways we can address this last issue is to understand the 'signal words' found on the labels of cleaning solutions," says Lee Chen, COO of ProNatural Brands, marketer of citric-acid-based cleaning solutions for cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting.
"Signal words indicate a product's level of toxicity. Being unaware of what these signal words mean can result in injuries, accidents, and even death."
As to the signal words cleaning workers should know, Lee believes the three most crucial are the following:
- Caution. This indicates low toxicity. However, this is a broad classification, meaning the product has varying degrees of safety. Typically, a caution label will read, "Harmful if..."
- Warning. A warning sign on a product label means a person weighing 150 pounds or less* could die if they ingested a tablespoon, possibly only a teaspoon, of the product. A warning label will read, "May be fatal if..."
- Danger-Poison. This means even consuming just a few drops of a product, up to a teaspoon, could prove fatal. This is the highest-toxicity category, and the product label will typically include these words: "Fatal if..."
Other signal words that may be found on professional cleaning solutions include:
- Flammable. Indicates a fire hazard or the product could explode due to heat.
- Corrosive. The product could damage metals or certain surface materials.
- Danger. When the word 'danger' is on a product label, it's usually specific. For example, the label might read: "Danger. Can cause permanent eye damage."
While virtually all cleaning solutions have the potential to cause injury, "some are certainly safer than others," adds Lee.
"To be safe, look for environmentally friendly cleaning solutions that are naturally produced - such as those made with citric acid. These tend to pose less risk and are safer to use."
Since its beginning in 2012, ProNatural Brands has developed a full line of 100% naturally derived disinfectants, sanitisers and cleaning products with patented, citrus formulas for the foodservice, healthcare, education, and hospitality industries, as well as for the consumer market. Its products have been scientifically proven to be effective and a safer alternative for the user's health and the environment.
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