By Jameka Carter
Janitors, Custodians, and Housekeepers are amongst the highest occupational groups at risk for injury. This is due to the physical nature of their work that often involves awkward postures, repeated motions, and forceful exertion. The following is a list of high-risk injury tasks and the best practices to reduce the risk of injury and increase productivity.
Share these instructions with your crew to keep them safe.
Moving Trash Cans/Carts
The more supplies loaded on the trash can or cart, the greater the force needed to push. Pay attention to uneven surfaces. It can cause the barrel to tip over. If it tips, let it go to prevent any strain on yourself.
Lifting Garbage Bags from a Trash Can
It is so easy to injure yourself while lifting heavy objects. Heavy lifting becomes more difficult when the contents of the bag have been pushed down. Use a trash can designed with vents for easier lifting and less back strain.
Moving and rearranging furniture involves forceful exertions for one person. Use equipment and devices to help move furniture or call someone for help to prevent serious back injury.
Some jobs require lifting and carrying heavy buckets. With prolonged use, a thin handle causes significant contact pressure on the hand. Avoid heavy compression on your hand by padding the handle or using a handle with a bigger diameter.
A worker who cleans floors by hand uses rapid and repetitive hand movements while kneeling, crouching, or crawling. There is also sustained bending of the upper body and neck. Use knee pads if you must kneel or use adjustable long-handled scrubbers with pivoting heads to avoid extreme reaches.
Sweeping floors may involve awkward positions of wrists. In addition, the back and neck are often in an awkward forward bent posture. Do not bend your back. Use lightweight brooms, standup dustpans, and lobby brooms. They allow you to remain standing up straight. If needed, bend your knees, not your back.
Housekeepers forcefully lift and hold each mattress corner with one hand and tuck in the bedsheet with the other. Prolonged and repetitive bending is hard on your back. Do not bend your back. Instead, bend your knees and crouch briefly.
Reaching up while holding a duster for long periods of time requires awkward and fixed positions of the arms, shoulders, and neck. This task can lead to pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, arms, and upper back. Stand at an angle and not directly under the dusting area for improved posture.
Not Taking Breaks
Working intensely and rapidly while in awkward postures, exerting force, and struggling to keep up with workload are factors often associated with an increased risk of injury. Take breaks every two hours to allow rest and recovery from physical exertion.