Jul 05, 2023

Managing Janitorial Work Comp Risk During Growth

Some industries may be in the midst of layoffs and hiring freezes, but the janitorial and cleaning sector is staying strong. In fact, it’s growing. As the market size increases, it’s necessary to reassess the risk management needs of janitorial and building services companies.

The Janitorial Sector Surpasses $90 Billion

According to research from IBISWorld, the janitorial sector services revenue experienced a compound annual growth rate of 1.2% between 2018 and 2023. In 2023, revenue is expected to reach $90.1 billion.

A well-functioning society depends on janitorial services. This fact was made clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people paid more attention to cleaning processes. However, it doesn’t take a global pandemic for sanitation to matter. The janitorial sector provides critical services.

Growth Comes with Increased Risks

As the janitorial sector grows, workplace accident exposures may increase, too.

As a janitorial company becomes bigger and employs more people, the risk of workplace injuries increases. Keeping adequate levels of staffing, training new employees, and responding to incidents can also be more challenging.

New workers are especially vulnerable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects 85,500 new positions for janitors and building cleaners between 2021 and 2031. Those 85,500 new workers will need to learn how to conduct janitorial and cleaning services safely.

Risks tend to be higher during the training period. The 2023 Travelers Injury Impact Report found that 34% of all workplace injuries occurred during the employee’s first year on the job. These injuries resulted in 7 million missed days of work. It makes sense – new workers simply don’t have the experience needed to avoid common mistakes that can lead to injuries.

Janitorial Workers Encounter Numerous Risks

Preventing workers’ compensation claims is especially important in industries with high risk exposures. That includes the janitorial sector.

According to BLS, private-sector janitors and cleaners (excluding maids and housekeepers) experienced 21,200 nonfatal injuries and illnesses involving days away from work in 2020. The incidence rate per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers was 191.6. For comparison, the total incident rate for cases involving days away from work, job restrictions, or transfer per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers in all industries was only 170.

Janitors have physically-demanding jobs. There are many ways they can become injured. For example, they may:

  • Hurt their backs lifting a heavy object or moving a piece of furniture.
  • Trip over an object or slip on a puddle and be injured in the resulting fall.
  • Encounter infectious material while cleaning, such as bodily fluids or used needles.
  • Be exposed to hazardous materials and chemicals used in the cleaning process.
  • Get caught in the middle of violence or crime while working after-hours.

New workers may be especially vulnerable to these exposures. They might try to lift objects that are too heavy or use improper lifting techniques. They might not realize the importance of personal protective equipment. Adequate training can help mitigate claims, but hiring more workers increases the chance that some of them will experience work-related injuries.

Janitorial Companies Need A Proactive Safety Stance

Businesses in the janitorial sector need to control their growing workers’ compensation exposures while keeping their costs down. An effective insurance program with risk management capabilities designed for the janitorial sector can help.

  • Prevent incidents whenever possible. By implementing proven risk management strategies, businesses can reduce the number of claims.
  • Mitigate losses with an appropriate response. When a claim occurs, a prompt response can help. For workplace injury claims, this typically involves a nurse triage program to identify the care needed without wasting time or resources.

Tangram’s janitorial and building services program delivers a specialized workers’ compensation program with risk management and nurse triage services. We also offer cyber liability and workplace violence coverage. Learn more.