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NYC Cleaning Professional Injuries – Common Causes & Legal Rights

New York City workers’ compensation lawyers discuss legal options

Thousands of people work in New York City as custodians, janitors and other cleaning professionals. In fact, businesses in New York employ more than 188,000 cleaners, the second highest number of any state in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And when it comes to cities nationwide, the greater NYC area employs far more workers than any other city in the country.

Unfortunately, many NYC cleaning professionals often sustain serious injuries at work. This is why the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) promotes workplace safety and other important topics each year as part of the organization’s annual International Cleaning Week.

So why do so many cleaning professional injuries occur? What are common janitor injuries? And what legal options are available for injured cleaning professionals? New York City workers’ compensation attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP explain what injured cleaning professionals need to know as well as their rights as injured workers.

How common are cleaning professional injuries?

Unfortunately, janitors often sustain serious injuries. Among cleaning professionals, nearly 3 out of 100 janitors and cleaners each year on average sustain an injury that requires them to take time off from work, according to BLS workplace injury statistics.

And compared to other industries, cleaning professionals often sustain injuries at a high rate. One scientific study found that janitors and other cleaning professionals face “a high burden of occupational injury and illness” compared to other professions.

Worst of all, the official cleaning professional injury statistics often only show part of the picture. That’s because many injured cleaning professionals do not report their work-related injuries. In fact, the same study noted that “half of injured janitors did not file workers’ compensation (WC) claims.”

How common are cleaning professional injuries in New York City?

Like the rest of the country, janitors in New York City face a high risk of getting hurt at work or becoming sick due to work-related illnesses. This is because New York City has more cleaning professionals than any city in the country. And due to the hazardous nature of such work, many New York City cleaning professionals often sustain serious workplace injuries that require extensive medical attention.

Why do cleaning professional injuries happen?

In many cases, injuries involving cleaning professionals often occur due to incidents that could have been prevented in the workplace. This is because many janitor injuries involve negligence, a legal term that refers to the at-fault party (often, the employer) failing to take the necessary precautions to prevent such accidents. Examples of workplace negligence that results in cleaning professional injury include:

  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals and other harmful substances, which can often be found in many cleaning products. This is the most common cause of workplace janitor injuries or illnesses, according to BLS data.
  • Falling at work and sustaining an on-the-job injury, the second-most common cause of janitor injuries.
  • Being struck by an object while working, the third-most common cause of janitor injuries.
  • Failing to provide safety training for janitors.
  • Not providing safety equipment for janitors, including eye protection, hearing protection equipment and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Repetitive stress injuries caused by doing the same work for several hours each day.
  • Unmarked hazards left on the floor, often resulting in a slip, trip and fall accident.
  • Loss of hearing due to exposure to loud cleaning equipment, including floor polishers and vacuum cleaners.
  • Poor lighting and other unsafe working conditions.

What are common cleaning professional injuries?

Several types of cleaning professional injuries are more common than others. According to BLS data, some of the most common janitor injuries include:

  • Muscle sprains, strains and tears, the most common type of janitor injury.
  • Head injuries, including concussions and other types of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • Broken bones and bone fractures, especially in the hands, arms and legs.
  • Nerve damage often caused by repetitive stress injuries.
  • Hip fractures in particular are especially common due to slip and fall accidents.
  • Skin burns caused by coming into contact with hazardous chemicals.
  • Contusions and bruises.
  • Back injuries, especially lower back injuries due to lifting heavy objects or other physical work.

What can employers do to prevent workplace cleaning injury accidents?

Employers need to take steps to prevent workplace injuries involving cleaning professionals. Some of the preventative measures employers can take to protect janitors and other cleaning professionals include:

  • Provide safety training for cleaning professionals, including information about how to safely handle hazardous chemicals, how to properly use safety equipment and what to do in the event of a workplace injury.
  • Provide cleaning professionals with safety equipment, including respirators, eyewear protection, hearing protection and back support equipment.
  • Providing cleaning professionals with breaks since janitorial work can often be very physically exhausting.
  • Regularly inspecting workplace areas to make sure there are no hazardous or dangerous conditions that could cause an injury.
  • Have a safety plan in place in the event of a cleaning professional injury.

What legal protections do cleaning professionals have in New York?

There are many state and federal laws designed to protect the health and well-being of cleaning professionals in New York. The Division of Safety and Health for the New York State Department of Labor has many rules and regulations designed to protect the welfare of janitors and other cleaning professionals. And at the federal level, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has many legal requirements and guidelines that were created to protect custodians and other cleaning workers. Many of these federal guidelines can be found in OSHA Standard 1926, which has many subparts involving general safety, personal protective equipment and the handling of potentially hazardous or dangerous materials.

What legal options do injured cleaning professionals have in New York?

If you get hurt on the job while working as a janitor in New York City, you often have several legal options available to you. Depending on the circumstances of your work-related injury or illness, such options may include:

  • Receive workers’ compensation benefits, a state-mandated insurance program that most employers in New York are required to have in the event of a workplace injury. If you qualify for workers’ compensation, such benefits often provide money for medical care, replacement income and other injury-related expenses.
  • File a workplace injury lawsuit in some cases. This is especially true if your cleaning professional injury was caused by someone other than your employer, which is common in many janitorial injury cases. This is because many cleaning professionals work for a company hired by another business to clean their offices. If the business that hired your employer failed to follow state or federal workplace safety regulations, you may be able to take legal action against the other business.

Other possible funding sources might exist depending on the nature of your cleaning professional injury or illness. This is why you should talk to a cleaning professional injury lawyer who thoroughly understands how the legal system works in New York.

How can a New York City workers’ compensation attorney help?

Many complicated legal issues often come up when it comes to cleaning professional injuries in New York City. Even knowing what your rights are might not be clear. This is why injured janitors and custodians should always talk to an attorney as soon as possible after their workplace injury. That way, they can make sure they fully understand all the options available to them.

Our New York City workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP understand how the legal system works when it comes to injury claims involving cleaning professionals. As a result, we can answer your questions, explain your options and get right to work on your workers’ compensation claim or workplace injury lawsuit.

Get the New York City law firm that fights for injured cleaning professionals. Contact us and schedule an appointment with a New York City workplace injury attorney focused on your best interests. We have 12 offices conveniently located in New York, including five offices in New York City.

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