Approximately 2.4 million workers in building custodial services occupations. 1 Projected employment for 2020 is 2.6 million (custodial services). 2 Nearly 800,000 maids and cleaners work in hotels, health care facilities, and other buildings. 3

Cleaners perform tasks such as the following:

  • Sweeping and mopping floors
  • Removing trash
  • Cleaning surfaces
  • Moving furniture and lifting bulk material to clean an area
  • Disinfecting tasks (health care facilities)

The tasks often result in exposure to these hazards:

  • Shiftwork
  • Heavy lifting, prolonged standing, and regular bending
  • Exposure to body fluids or other infectious agents
  • Handling cleaning agents

The hazards may result in conditions such as the following: 4

  • Psychosocial stress
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Infectious diseases
  • Dermatologic diseases, allergies, and respiratory diseases

Silhouette of a janitor mopping a floor in a factory

Torso of a hospital cleaner pushing bins

NIOSH supports ongoing research to help cleaners recognize and prevent or reduce risks during their work.

National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)

NORA is a partnership program that NIOSH maintains with academia, labor, industry, unions, and community organizations to set national research goals for occupational safety and health. The national agenda is developed and implemented through the NORA Sector Councils. The Services Sector Council has set goals to reduce occupational diseases, injuries, and fatalities among the 72 million persons working in service industries  through a focused program of research and prevention. Visit the NORA Services Sector Council website at

  1. BLS [2018]. Occupational outlook handbook: janitors and building cleaners (summary). icon
  2. BLS [2018]. Occupational outlook handbook: janitors and building cleaners (job outlook). icon
  3. BLS [2018]. Occupational employment and wages, May 2017. 37-2012 Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners. icon
  4. Charles LE, Loomis D, Demissie Z [2009]. Occupational hazards experienced by cleaning workers and janitors: a review of the epidemiologic literature. Work 34:105‒116
  5. OMB [2017]. North American Industry Classification System. iconexternal icon
Page last reviewed: June 4, 2014