Occupational exposures among domestic and industrial professional cleaners

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BackgroundDespite being a large part of the workforce, cleaners remain a relatively understudied occupational group in the USA.AimsThe aims of this focus group study were to identify and characterize occupational exposures, symptoms and job tasks among domestic and industrial professional cleaners.MethodsTwelve focus group sessions were conducted in Lubbock, TX, and Houston, TX. Participants were asked about their job tasks, type of products they use to clean, bodily symptoms, job training and work environment.ResultsOut of 99 attendees, 79 domestic and industrial cleaners participated actively in the focus group sessions. Three general themes emerged regarding cleaning professionals’ work experiences: (i) job training, (ii) chemical exposure and use and (iii) competence. Domestic cleaners demonstrated significant skills deficit across each of these three themes as compared to industrial cleaners. Domestic cleaners reported more frequent exposure to respiratory irritants and sensitizers and also reported adverse respiratory symptoms as compared to industrial cleaners.ConclusionsThe results from this qualitative study are consistent with earlier findings from quantitative studies placing domestic cleaners at risk of exposure to chemicals that are respiratory irritants and/or sensitizers.

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