Workplaces, such as schools, hospitals, hotels, restaurants and manufacturing plants, use cleaning chemicals to ensure the cleanliness of their buildings. Workers who handle these products include building maintenance workers, janitors, and housekeepers. Some cleaning chemicals can be hazardous, causing problems ranging from skin rashes and burns to coughing and asthma.
What are the risk factors of housekeeping?
- Heavy physical workload and excessive bodily motions which are a high risk for back injuries
- Forceful upper limb motions in awkward positions which are a high risk for neck or shoulder and arm injuries
- Standing or walking
Hotel housekeepers work in a unique place. Hotels are usually designed for the comfort of their guests rather than their housekeeping staff. This fact makes it very difficult to improve working conditions for housekeepers by means of better engineering. However, some improvements can be made by selecting more appropriate equipment. Lighter vacuum cleaners (preferably the self-propelling type), and lighter service carts with wheels designed for carpeted floors would ease the workload for their operators providing this equipment is always kept in good repair. When new vacuum cleaners are purchased, low noise emissions should be one of the criteria. Improving the body postures that pose a major risk for musculoskeletal disorders seems an unachievable task. Again, this fact results from the peculiarity of hotels as a workplace. To attract guests and remain competitive, hotel management pursues a policy that everything should be "so clean it sparkles". Floors, walls, windows, mirrors, and bathroom fixtures might be adequately cleaned with some form of an extension tool to reduce bending and over-stretching. However, the demand for spotless cleanliness and hygiene, management often requires their cleaning staff to spend extra time and effort cleaning by kneeling, leaning, squatting, crouching, slouching and stretching. These postures will, in time, contribute to new musculoskeletal injuries and aggravate old ones. New approaches, other than strictly ergonomic ones, need to be investigated. For example, action can be taken from the administrative level. Options for improvement include:
- Job rotation
- Job enrichment and job enlargement
- Education and training on work practices
Job rotation is one possible approach. It requires workers to move between different tasks, at fixed or irregular periods. However, it must be a rotation where workers do something completely different. Different tasks must use different muscle groups to allow muscles already stressed to recover.
Another approach is job enlargement. This approach increases the variety of tasks built into the job. It breaks the monotony of the job and avoids overloading one part of the body. Job enrichment involves more autonomy and control for the worker.
Team work can provide greater variety and more evenly distributed muscular work. The whole team is involved in the planning of the work. Each team member carries out a set of operations to complete the whole product, allowing the worker to alternate between tasks. This approach reduces the risk of RMI.
A well-designed job, supported by a well-designed workplace and proper tools, allows the worker to avoid the unnecessary motion of the neck, shoulders and upper limbs. However, the actual performance of the tasks depends on individuals. Training should be provided for workers who are involved in housekeeping activities. It is important that housekeeping staff be informed about hazards in the workplace, including the risk of injuries to the musculoskeletal system. Therefore, identification of the hazards for such injury at any given hotel is fundamental. Individual work practices, including lifting habits, are shaped by proper training. Training should encourage employers and workers to adopt methods that reduce fatigue. For example, it is advisable to plan one's workload and do the heavier tasks at the beginning of the work shift, rather than at the end, when fatigue is at its maximum. When a person is tired, the risk of injuring a muscle is higher. Training should also explain the health hazards of improper lifting and give recommendations on what a worker can do to improve lifting positions. Training should also emphasize the importance of rest periods for the workers' health and explain how active rest can do more for keeping workers healthy than passive rest. The effect of such training can reach far beyond occupational situations because the workers can apply this knowledge also in their off-job activities.
- Housekeeping Safety 00:05:00
- Topics 00:05:00
- Safety with Sharps 00:20:00
- Cuts 00:20:00
- Universal Precautions 00:10:00
- Potentially Infectious Bodily Fluids 00:10:00
- Use Protective Equipment 00:10:00
- Syringes 00:20:00
- Report on the Job Injuries 00:10:00
- Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls 00:10:00
- Causes 00:20:00
- What to Do 00:10:00
- Prevention Measures 00:40:00
- Falling 00:20:00
- Safe Lifting 00:20:00
- Test the Load! 00:10:00
- Stretching Exercises 00:30:00
- Chemical Safety 00:40:00
- Review 00:10:00
- Remember 00:10:00
- General Certificate in Housekeeping Test 00:50:00
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