How Ergonomic Equipment Reduces Strain on Your Back and Your Business

Equipment Ergonomics

When it comes to ergonomics of the workplace, the first thing that may come to mind is functional workstation design – desk height, mouse distance, seat angle, etc. But, there is also another type of human engineering that occurs in the workplace, and that is cleaning ergonomics.

To complete their jobs, cleaning professionals are often exposed to awkward postures that can put them at risk for injury. Guiding cleaning equipment to do its job can be a difficult task, involving bending and stooping. Other risk factors that can lead to injury include: vibration of equipment, repetitive pushing/pulling motions, brute force required to complete a task and the risk of falls while cleaning stairs.

Injuries can be devastating to employees who cannot afford to take time off from work, not to mention expensive for the company that is now short an employee and dealing with compensation claims. Back injuries alone account for 20-30% of all claims in the U.S., resulting in 12 million lost works days at a cost of over $1 billion.

Fortunately, as more companies continue to put a greater emphasis on worker health, there have been many advances in equipment that help to lessen strain and fatigue caused by improper body position.

7 Qualities of Ergonomic Equipment

Just like other any other profession, cleaning professionals come in all shapes and sizes – that’s why it is important to be able to customize cleaning equipment to fit the user. There is greater worker satisfaction among employees who are equipped with the right tools to do their job.

Ergonomic equipment often exhibits a design that is customizable and reduces strain on the user:

  1. Adjustable handles to allow for position to be fit to operator height
  2. Comfort grip handles to reduce vibration and correctly position hands
  3. Bent handles to minimize the force and leverage required to move the equipment
  4. Swivel handles on mops help to reduce wrist strain
  5. Low drag design to reduce push and pull strain
  6. Low center of gravity to reduce the handle weight of vacuums
  7. Lightweight extension poles to increase user reach and reduce strain

Trial Equipment and Train Employees

The ergonomic qualities common to new equipment are only helpful if they are being used. Before a piece of equipment is purchased, it should be trialed to by the users – as the people who will be using the equipment on a regular basis, it is important that they have a say.

It is equally important to implement a training program and identify standard operating procedures. If employees are aware that the equipment can be adjusted to fit their needs and understand how to make these adjustments, they will be more likely to make the beneficial changes to the equipment that will reduce physical strain.

Invest in the Right Equipment

Cleaning professionals play an important role in keeping facilities looking their best, so it is equally important to lookout for their health and well-being. Investing in and training employees about proper use of ergonomic equipment will reduce their physical strain, which in turn, reduces strain on your business.

Sources:

Ergonomics Study of Custodial, Housekeeping, and Environmental Service Positions at the University of California prepared by The UC System-wide Ergonomics Project Team

Ergonomic Audit and Back Injury Assessment of Custodial Staff by Cornell University

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Courtney Petesch

Courtney Petesch is the Marketing Specialist for HP Products, a distributor of 50,000 facility maintenance products throughout the Midwest. Courtney has over 5 years of experience managing e-commerce product content and merchandising, overseeing social media initiatives, executing email marketing campaigns and evaluating analytics.