In spite of all the advances being made in the category, there’s still independent testing and the human factor to consider. According to Rathey, managers in the market for a new backpack vacuum should consider one that is approved by the Carpet and Rug Institute. From there, the machine is only as good as the human factor it takes to maintain and operate.

“When you add the human factor as part of the machine, procedures need to center around maintenance and training,” says Rathey. “While current models are more ergonomic, employee training is the basis for the best results to help prevent injuries.”

When putting together a maintenance plan for backpack vacuums, first check with the equipment manufacturer. In addition to what’s outlined by manufacturers, staff should be checking filters and cords on a regular basis.

“Filters should be emptied after every two hours of usage and micro filters should be discarded every week and replaced with new ones,” says Walker. “Cloth and exhaust filters should be rinsed out on a weekly basis and replaced when they’re worn. This helps prolong the life of the vacuum.”

It is also important for staff to wind cords properly as they move through the building.

“If this doesn’t happen, in a very short period of time, the cords will end up looking like a 50-foot long ramen noodle,” adds Walker. “Once this happens, cord breakage and torn sheathing is next.”

When checking the cords, train staff to also examine the power plug prongs.

“I see broken prongs in almost every cleaning operation I visit,” says Walker. “Cleaning workers must know that broken prongs need to be reported and extension cords need to be replaced.”

With proper care, this equipment can remain a long-lasting staple for custodial departments. Managers looking to increase cleaning efficiency and productivity of their staff should add ongoing training and maintenance procedures as equipment is introduced. They should also keep on top of equipment advancements that can streamline existing carpet care programs.

ANGELA WATKINS is a freelance writer based in Massillon, Ohio.

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Improving Ergonomics For Backpack Vacuums