OSHA defines ergonomics as:
“The science of designing jobs, equipment, and workplaces to fit the person.”
Janitorial and housekeeping tasks can cause ergonomic injuries, if you are not careful.
Some housekeeping tasks can also put a lot of pressure on the discs in the back, which are the “shock absorbers” between vertebrae.
Some examples include:
Other housekeeping tasks can also cause a lot pain in the neck and shoulders. (e.g., irritated, swollen, or torn tendons)
Some examples include:
There are several ways housekeepers and janitorial staff can experience muscle discomfort or joint pain on-the-job.
For example, forceful exertions, such as lifting heavy mattresses, pushing heavy supply carts and using vacuum cleaners can cause ergonomic injuries among housekeepers.
Awkward postures while cleaning the bathroom floors or tubs can cause problems as well.
Housekeepers and janitorial staff also can suffer muscle injures because they are doing so many tasks using the same hand or arm, such as washing windows and dusting.
Awkward postures can also occur with twisted, hyper-extended or flexed back positions.
Increased potential for employee injury exists when awkward postures are used when performing many housekeeping and janitorial tasks, such as mopping floors, leaning over to wash toilets, etc.
Awkward postures include:
To decrease ergonomic stressors when performing cleaning tasks, employees should:
Store heaviest or most used items between your hips and chest. You have more body strength at this part of the body.
Push carts using both hands. This keeps the body from twisting and distributes effort across both sides of the body.
Empty trash from cart as often as possible. This makes it easier to push the cart.
Align cart wheels in the direction of the movement. Carts with aligned wheels are easier to push.
Replenish supply cart a few times over your shift. It takes less effort to push a lighter cart.
Report cart problems to your supervisor. Repaired carts are easier to use.
Consider using different postures. Forward bending causes a twisted back; whereas, if you are closer to the bed, you won’t be bending over.
Regularly empty vacuum bag. It takes less force to move an empty vacuum, which causes less fatigue.
Line up body with the path of the vacuum. If your body isn’t lined up, it can cause stress to your shoulder and causes you to twist your back.
Alternate vacuuming between your right and left hands. This will give your body a chance to rest frequently used muscles and body parts.
Stand inside the tub to clean wall tile. If you are outside the tub, you will need to stretch further. That will cause stress to your shoulder.
Keep dirty towels off the floor as much as possible. Repeated bending over to pick up towels from the floor can cause muscle fatigue and stress.
Do work at waist level as much as possible. Removing trash and replacing liners on the floor can cause back stress and fatigue.
Alternate arms when cleaning surfaces. The demands of the task is spread to both shoulders and it also gives each arm and shoulder a chance to rest.
Wear comfortable shoes to work and do a few stretching exercises for your back, arms, and shoulders before starting your shift.
Make sure you report any unusual aches and pains to your supervisor. You can also communicate ways you have found to make the job easier to your co-workers.
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