Jimmy Johnson is a custodian at Dr. Phillips High School in Orange County. School custodians have one of the highest rates of work-related injuries, more than food service workers and teaching assistants who work with severely disabled students. In Orange County, there were 125 custodian injuries in 2011, which cost the district $372,645 in worker’s compensation.
Orange County schools now require candidates to pass a physical fitness test . But many applicants don’t pass it. Schools are short janitors and custodians like Sylvia Moya say they’re working overtime, scrambling to keep schools clean.
Tony Rodriguez is the head custodian at Dr. Phillips High. He says janitor equipment is more than just mops and brooms. School custodians hurt their backs lifting furniture and burn themselves with cleaning chemicals and machines. Rodriguez took the fitness test a couple months ago and thinks it’s a good requirement for the job.
The supply room at Dr. Phillips High School isn’t your stereotypical janitor’s closet. It’s filled with machines the size of small tractors used to empty the dumpsters and wax floors.