The Dangers of Cleaning Chemical Exposure

The Dangers of Cleaning Chemical Exposure

The improper handling of common cleaning chemicals can lead to severe illness and, in extreme instances, death.

The Dangers of Cleaning Chemical Exposure

The Consequences of Improper Cleaning Chemical Handling

Conventional commercial cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals that must be handled with care, in well-ventilated spaces, and only by trained professionals wearing the appropriate safety gear.

The consequences of ignoring these dangers have been underscored all too often recently--resulting in school and business closures, hospitalizations, and tragically avoidable deaths.

Recently, a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant was closed after a routine floor cleaning procedure involving a bleach-base may have combined with acidic residue on the ground, resulting in a fume-cloud.

Reportedly, the manager, who later died of exposure to the chemicals, attempted to remedy the issue by removing the cleaning product with a squeegee.

Authorities say a commonly used bleach compound may have reacted with acidic floor residue to create toxic fumes, killing a manager and sickening at least 13 others.

Authorities are still investigating how a routine cleaning procedure at a Buffalo Wild Wings outside Boston led to the death of the restaurant’s manager and the hospitalization of at least 13 other people.

Investigators are looking at the possibility that an employee poured a bleach-based cleaning compound on the kitchen floor to clean it before the Thursday dinner rush, not realizing that the floor had been treated earlier with an acidic agent.

The manager who died attempted to prevent the situation from worsening by scraping away the bleach with a squeegee.

A routine mopping turns deadly at a Buffalo Wild Wings

Another recent incident involving a hazardous situation created by the accidental mixture of cleaning products has resulted in the closure of a Red Robin restaurant for an indeterminate amount of time--pending investigation by authorities and clearance by the health department.

Like the Buffalo Wild Wings incident, this one also occurred at a restaurant just outside Boston.

Following the apparent chemical reaction involving cleaning materials, the Red Robin manager on duty evacuated all eight employees and all the restaurant’s guests from the unit.

Red Robin unit shuttered after hazardous situation with cleaning chemicals


Cleaning Chemical Safe Handling Guidelines

Sadly, these and other tragedies involving the accidental mixture of cleaning products can be easily avoided by following a few basic safety and handling guidelines, including:

  • Chemical Product List - Every school and business should maintain a complete and regularly updated list of all cleaning products stored and used in the facility, as well as any potential hazards and proper handling procedures.
  • Safety Data Sheets - Previously referred to as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)--are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required documents regarding the chemical makeup, proper use, and potential health and safety hazards of each product stored and used in any facility, and should be accessible to all personnel involved in the handling of said products.
  • Proper Storage - Commercial cleaning products often contain hazardous chemicals that can negatively react when mixed with other chemicals and, as such, should only be stored in the original containers in a clean, dry, environmentally controlled, and well-ventilated space.
  • Warning Notifications - Warnings regarding the dangerous chemicals being used, as well as their potential for deadly side effects, should be posted, visible, and easily accessible for all employees.
  • Training - All employees responsible for the handling and use of hazardous cleaning products must be thoroughly trained in their proper use and disposal--underscoring the dangers of accidental product mixture, as well as evacuation procedures and hazmat response.
  • Protective Gear - Accidents happen, so everyone responsible for the use and handling of toxic cleaning chemicals must wear the appropriate safety equipment, such as gloves, respirators, and goggles.


References & Resources



The accidental mixing of hazardous commercial cleaning products is an all too common, entirely preventable occurrence often resulting in the hospitalization of facility occupants, individuals who happen to be in the vicinity, business closures, and tragic deaths.

Environmentally-preferable cleaning products are a viable alternative, but nothing takes the place of experience combined with the proper tools and safety equipment, regardless of the environment.

While the custodial industry struggles with high turnover numbers resulting in the absence of necessary training and experience, often the most significant issue lies with the use of regular staff to clean in addition to their primary duties.

Outsourcing, especially as an alternative to leveraging regular staff to double as custodians, is an infinitely more desirable and cost-effective solution that will protect your employees, customers, and business.

Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450

In Arkansas, dial 479-717-2410

In Missouri, dial 417-812-9777

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.