In the early days of the sanitation trade, most janitors were men. As such, commercial mops were designed to accommodate the male stature. Today’s cleaning professionals include a diverse and evolving workforce — not only do women make up a greater portion of janitorial workers, but janitors are also demanding safer workplaces and cleaning processes and tools, such as ergonomic mops. 

Though advances in technology have removed some of the “elbow grease” needed to complete cleaning tasks, mopping floors remains one of the leading causes of injuries among janitorial workers. It requires heavy lifting, downward pressure and repetitive motion, all of which can cause muscular strain to the lower back, hands, wrists and arms. Injuries are exacerbated in individuals who do not have access to ergonomic mops. 

For a building service contractor, injuries can be a liability to the business. Employees who are injured on the job increase the company’s absenteeism rates and worker compensation costs, both of which can deliver a blow to the BSC’s bottom line. 

Today, there is a greater emphasis on worker health, which is why cleaning manufacturers are paying more attention to ergonomic mops. 

“[BSCs] just want their people to keep showing up, be healthy and perform better,” says Josh Kerst, vice president at HumanTech, in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Getting the proper equipment and making sure people are using it correctly goes a long way. One size does not fit all.” 


University Of California Studies Ergonomic Risk Factors

In 2011, researchers at the University of California identified several ergonomic risk factors in a system-wide study that aimed to curb workers’ compensation claims within their janitorial workforce. 

According to the study, janitorial injuries accounted for 761 workers’ compensation claims in the 2010 fiscal year, resulting in an estimated direct cost of about $7.1 million to the institution.  

“If you cut your finger on a knife, it’s just soft tissue and you can cover it with a Band-Aid,” says Kristie Elton, UC — Riverside site ergonomist and a project lead. “Ergonomic [workers’ compensation] claims tend to cost the most.” 

The project team confirmed that the majority of ergonomic risk factors stemmed from “awkward poses and repetitive tasks,” both of which contributed to high instances of muscular skeletal distress. Out of the top five causes of injury relating to cleaning tasks, mopping placed second, just behind hauling trash. 

Once the ergonomic risk factors were identified (a process that was done through a series of questionnaires and workers’ compensation data at 15 University of California locations), the research team created and implemented a list of recommendations to combat the claims. 

Ergonomic risk factors named in the study were not solely physical. The study says injuries were also due to a lack of training from supervisors and inconsistent cleaning protocols. To add to the pain, squeezed cleaning budgets and a shrinking cleaning staff increased the pressure on already strained workers, putting janitors at an even greater risk for injuries.  

Among some of the changes that were implemented to janitorial staffs included the introduction of microfiber mops, which the study found to be lighter and easier to maneuver, switching to “smart-handle,” ergonomic mops, which adjusted to the height of the janitor, and encouraging workers to wear slip-resistant shoes to ensure footing and to prevent potential slips and falls. 


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Microfiber Flat Mops Allow Employees To Clean With Ease