Housing and Dining Bans Dorm Room Steam Cleaners

The steam machines that have injured 28 Housing, Dining and Hospitality department custodial employees this quarter will be banned effective March 3.

After Campuswide Senator Victor Flores-Osorio introduced a resolution to ban the machines at the Feb. 16 A.S. Council meeting, the HDH Committee brought the issue to the department’s attention. HDH reviewed the resolution and after an evaluation of its steam equipment, HDH decided on Thursday, Feb. 24, to return to using more environment-friendly alternatives.

Associate Director of Housing, Dining and Hospitality Jana Severson said that it is too early to determine the costs of discontinuing the steam cleaning program, but that HDH will try its best to minimize costs, if there are any.

“Green cleaning solutions will be used instead of the steam machines,” Severson said. “There is no additional cost to use the green cleaning machines. This is the program HDH had in place prior to implementing steam.”

The return to green cleaning solutions will not impact work flow or maintenance, as these cleaning solutions were used throughout UCSD’s facilities until HDH started its steam cleaning program in fall of 2010. HDH launched this pilot program to implement more environmentally friendly cleaning measures.

“HDH [was] already using green cleaning solutions throughout our facilities, but [the steam machines were] one step greener,” Severson said. “However, the main reason for the switch was in looking for ways to prevent typical custodial repetitive injuries based on scrubbing patterns. Steam cleaning is also helpful for students and staff who suffer from allergies or chemical sensitivities.”

HDH said it attempted to help all employees transition to the use of steam machines by encouraging its staff to attend training sessions and to stretch. It reviewed employee concerns and made the steam machine program voluntary after it was implemented, so workers did not have to use steam if they prefer using the chemical cleaning products.

Twenty-eight workers had reported injuries including steam burns, permanent nerve damage, back pain and neck pain to HDH.

“During this voluntary portion of the program, we have had staff continue [to] use the equipment without injury,” Severson said. “Additionally, out of concern for our employees, we started the third-party ergonomic evaluation of the equipment.”

Flores-Osorio was surprised that the decision to ban steam machines was made so quickly.

“I actually didn’t believe it because I thought it would be a little longer process,” Flores-Osorio said. “I thought at the earliest it would have happened at the HDH meeting, which I think would have been tomorrow or the next Monday. I’m really glad that HDH has taken a stance in which [it’s] saying that our workers are not disposable and that [it is] able to sustain the health of our workers as well as the health of the environment as well as the overall state of UCSD’s cleanliness.”

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal