Our Rights vs. Chemicals???

  1. I was in the middle of the nurses' station this afternoon when a housekeeping worker came in with one of those big metal containers with a spray nozzle on the end and just started spraying the carpet at the med room door. I never went into bronchospasm so fast in my life (I have sarcoidosis). In between gasps, I asked him, "What are you spraying?" to which he kept on spraying, looked at me like I was crazy, and said, "Just chemicals."

    Just chemicals???

    My charge nurse (who also reacted to the chemicals) tried to explain to him that it wasn't ok just to show up in the middle of the day and start spraying without even giving us a chance to clear out of the area or protect our airways. He started complaining that I should have told him I was going to react (like I knew??), the way some staff on other floors have let him know, and that he had to get the carpet shampooed. Clearly he didn't give a rat's patootie about my lungs or anyone else's. Because then he started kvetching that we were holding him up and he had to get the work done. And he continued to spray.

    Fortunately, I had Prednisone in my bag and it always works when I have those rare failure-to-breathe moments. And I wore a respirator for the rest of the shift. But I was also told that if I would have had to leave, I wouldn't have been entitled to use sick time because I'm in my probationary period.

    Why am I less important than a rug? I knew I was really low on the hospital food chain, but less than a dirty, nasty rug?
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    About catlady

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    19 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    You may not have been able to use sick time but you could have gone to the ER and you would have been covered under comp. I think that would have gotten the attention of Mr. I-gotta-clean-the-carpet's boss.
  4. by   gonzo1
    It always bothers me when they spray too. Had to give myself a neb tx one night at work. Me and another nurse. Cleanliness before breathing I quess.
  5. by   suebird3
    I have had a few talks with the Head of HouseKeeoing about the spraying of stuff in the air. One housekeeper seems to think that one spray is good for odors, and in large quantities. I don't have problems with asthma, but I swore I did this time. Of course, nothing got done.....

    Suebird
  6. by   Tweety
    Our housekeepers are immune to the complaints of staff. They just go in and do their job. In a way I can't blame them because the complaints are numeourous when they do the floors "do you have to do that now?" "that stinks" "I can hardly breathe" "How am I supposed to get to my patients"...........so many they turn a deaf hear.

    However, they clearly need to announce when they are going to be spraying chemicals so sensitive people as yourself can leave.
  7. by   ICRN2008
    Our housekeepers insist on stripping and waxing the floors in the middle of dinnertime when it's busy in the lab. When you try to negotiate with them to come back later, they complain that their boss wants the floors done "now".

    Try explaining to them that having access to the blood gas analyzer when we have a critical patient is more important than nice shiny floors- it won't work! I've tried to convince them that the patient's well-being is our #1 priority (it is a hospital after all), and every time my pleas fall on deaf ears. I'm done negotiating- I now tell them that they must leave and that they can talk to my supervisor in the morning!
  8. by   NurseyBaby'05
    I had a pt with a new CBI and another nurse had the roommate that was a fresh ICU transfer. Needless to say we were in there at least every half hour between the two of us. Both patients had family in there too. So what does the maintenance man decide to do? Come in and buff the floor with the machine. :angryfire I confronted him. Common sense is not his strong suit. Him: "Gotta get 'em all done." Me: "You're not coming back in there. There are five other rooms that have no patients in them. Surely you can do those and head to another floor. You can have your boss call me if you wind up taking heat, but you can't buff the floors in there. She (the other nurse)and I have to be in there far too often and besides, there's patients in there. If they're both going to be off the floor for awhile, I can have you sneak in and do it, but not now." Funny, I never heard from his boss.
  9. by   RobCPhT
    I believe it's an OSHA reg to have MSDS on all chemicals used in a facility. Also you should be able to ge the OSHA book and file a complaint about chemicals being used. If they don't have one you need to contact OSHA about it. Your health is more important that a rug.
  10. by   subee
    Quote from catlady
    I was in the middle of the nurses' station this afternoon when a housekeeping worker came in with one of those big metal containers with a spray nozzle on the end and just started spraying the carpet at the med room door. I never went into bronchospasm so fast in my life (I have sarcoidosis). In between gasps, I asked him, "What are you spraying?" to which he kept on spraying, looked at me like I was crazy, and said, "Just chemicals."

    Just chemicals???

    My charge nurse (who also reacted to the chemicals) tried to explain to him that it wasn't ok just to show up in the middle of the day and start spraying without even giving us a chance to clear out of the area or protect our airways. He started complaining that I should have told him I was going to react (like I knew??), the way some staff on other floors have let him know, and that he had to get the carpet shampooed. Clearly he didn't give a rat's patootie about my lungs or anyone else's. Because then he started kvetching that we were holding him up and he had to get the work done. And he continued to spray.

    Fortunately, I had Prednisone in my bag and it always works when I have those rare failure-to-breathe moments. And I wore a respirator for the rest of the shift. But I was also told that if I would have had to leave, I wouldn't have been entitled to use sick time because I'm in my probationary period.

    Why am I less important than a rug? I knew I was really low on the hospital food chain, but less than a dirty, nasty rug?

    I would question why you even have a rug at all. Rugs themselves are filled with chemicals and certainly become nothing more than cesspools of disease once they're on the floors. And there's the foulness of the stuff used to clean them.
  11. by   MIA-RN1
    Quote from subee
    I would question why you even have a rug at all. Rugs themselves are filled with chemicals and certainly become nothing more than cesspools of disease once they're on the floors. And there's the foulness of the stuff used to clean them.
    I agree with you on the rugs.
    Unfortunately at my hospital they have just finishd pulling them up and redoing the floors (a monthslong process). Now we keep having to deal with floor waxing and cleaning that smells just awful and blocks off whole chunks of the hallway at a time!
  12. by   santhony44
    I'm curious about something. These people in housekeeping who are unresponsive to your needs: are they employed by the facility, or by a contractor? "Back in the day" when I worked in the hospital, our housekeepers were hospital employees too and usually worked really well with us. Their supervisory folks would generally come to the floor and talk with the manager or charge nurse before they started any unusual cleaning or buffing floors. I know lots of places now outsource that kind of service and just wonder if that makes a difference. Hospital employees know they're employed by the facility and the purpose of the facility is to take care of patients; employees of Acme Cleaning Inc. may not see the job the same way. Of course, you can have folks with no judgement or common sense, either way.
  13. by   Serenyd
    we also have problems when housekeeping does the floors it is very strong smelling and many staff and patients complain of headaches.
  14. by   VivaLasViejas
    I swear, this must be a universal problem.

    Luckily for me, the hospital where I worked was fairly sensitive to these issues........mainly because I had a HUGE asthma attack one time when housekeeping was spraying, my sats dropped into the upper 70s and they had to call RT for a STAT nebulizer tx for me! After that, they never did floor work when I was on---guess they figured out they didn't want to have to run a code on me---but I always felt sorry for everyone else who had to work while that vile stuff was being sprayed on the carpets. I wasn't the only one with asthma or other breathing problems; just the only one whose airways reacted so dramatically.:uhoh21:

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