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Washington State Janitorial Workload Study

About the Study

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The Washington State Janitorial Workload study is a new four-year research project in the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program, to identify risk factors that put janitors in Washington State at high risk for work-related injuries. This study includes a multi-disciplinary team of researchers.

The SHARP program was tasked by the Washington State Legislature to identify workload issues that may be amenable to change, which can reduce the risk of injury. Our goal is to find out from janitor, labor, and business safety leaders what issues, tools, and tasks are the most hazardous, and recommend ways to reduce these risks.

There are many steps to this study:

  • Focus groups to hear from janitors around the state
  • One-on-one interviews with janitors
  • Advisory Committees of business and labor safety leaders, as well as cleaning workers
  • Statewide surveys of janitors
  • Statewide surveys of janitorial employers
  • Detailed worksite observations of janitors

Previous research from SHARP regarding janitors

First step: Focus Groups

What are the focus groups about?

Focus groups were held in both Western and Eastern Washington. These meetings identified some common concerns among janitors in terms of workload, breaks, and the condition of equipment. More detailed information will be published on this site, and in our newsletter by this Fall.

Next steps:

Statewide survey of janitorial workers.

We expect to begin contacting janitors this fall, and have the survey completed during the winter. If you would like to learn more about the survey, or if you have any questions, please call or email us using the contact information below. For a short informational video click here.

Why is this research taking place?

Our goal is to identify ways to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses to janitors and custodians, in an effort to create safer and healthier working conditions. We would like to talk to at least 1,500 janitors to learn about their experiences.

We have hired Pacific Market Research to conduct a survey with janitors and custodians across the state, to learn about the work janitors do. We want to learn about all the hazards janitors face on the job, including bullying, harassment and violence.

The survey is voluntary and confidential. Neither Pacific Market Research nor SHARP will reveal survey answers to anyone. Decisions workers make about participating won’t affect any legal case or workers’ compensation claim they may have. No janitor is required to take part. If they choose to take part, they can skip questions that they do not want to answer or stop the survey at any time.

Workplace site visits with janitors

Researchers from SHARP will be visiting various worksites in Washington to recruit janitors for a detailed assessment of physical workload. We have already received initial approval from three large janitorial employers to recruit their employees. Workload assessments will be completed watching janitors as they do their work, asking them a few questions about their job and we will take a few measurements (e.g., weights of vacuums, and garbage cans).

Participating in this piece of the study is also voluntary. Decisions janitors make about participating will not affect any legal case or workers’ compensation claim they may have. No janitor is required to participate.
We will not share names or personal information with anyone outside the research team, and none of the individual information will be shared with employers.

For more information:


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