From the desks of Lisa Mathess, M.A., SHRM-CP, Lead Consultant - Motor Team and Matthew McCord, M.S., CRC, Senior Consultant – Motor Team
Housekeepers, janitors, and other cleaning professionals work in various environments doing job tasks that tend to be physically demanding. In addition, the equipment they use to do their work can require physical exertion to move and operate. Motor limitations, like back, arm, or leg injuries among others, can stem from both on-the-job injuries and off-the-job physical impairments. For those with motor limitations, accommodations such as specialized equipment, assistive technology, or simple products that are widely available on the market can enable those employees to continue to perform their job tasks effectively. Below are some options to explore:
- Lightweight cleaning carts are available to allow the easy transport of essential supplies. These come in space-efficient sizes for smaller, confined environments.
- To distribute linens without excessive bending, a spring-loaded cart, which raises the top of the linens to waist height, is helpful. There are various motorized linen carts and pushers available.
- A portable and lightweight vacuum unit reaches cramped areas without lifting and bending. A belt-mounted hip or backpack vacuum is sometimes extremely useful.
- Ergonomic mop buckets with self-draining spigots limit back strain by draining water from the bottom instead of forcing an individual to lift a heavy bucket. Using a pitcher to remove water can also help lighten the bucket's load. Hand pumps are also options.
- For window washing and dusting, a telescoping handle enables a user to adjust the handle to comfortable positions. Spray dusters, tacky-surface dust collectors, and treated dust cloths are also useful in some situations. Adjustable, flexible, extension handles for long and awkward reaches are possibilities. Ergonomically designed sprayers that feature extra-long triggers for comfort and pump sprayers for easy use are options.
- To inspect tight areas, a low-task chair on wheels, and a lighted inspection mirror help limit frequent squatting.
- Ergonomic handles or adapters, such as D-handles or pistol grips, can allow for more power and control when using long-handled tools such as mops and squeegees.
- "Wheelbarrow-style" and motorized carts are available to haul debris with ease.
- To change the liners of a garbage can, a can with door access eliminates overhead shoulder use. Also, a flatbed cart with a bag sealer mounted on it enables an individual to effectively move bags and easily close liners with one hand.
- With a portable trash can dumper, one person can empty trash cans into dumpsters. Hand cranks or push-button operated units are available.
- For a general listing of various cleaning products, see JAN’s vendor page for cleaning tools.
Working Safer and Easier for Janitors, Custodians, and Housekeepers. Factsheet by California Department of Occupational Safety and Health.