Updates from the Leading Association for the Cleaning Industry Worldwide
Being Carpet Careful
Carpet cleaning is demanding and very labor intensive. Studies show that it can be compared to cardiovascular exercise. And in many situations, this work actually uses more muscle groups and is more demanding than typical cardiovascular exercises one might do in a gym.
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) most often affect the upper limbs, back and lower limbs, especially the knees and hips. The pain ranges from minor irritation and discomfort to debilitating pain, soreness and even numbness.
Typically, WMSDs are not inherited, nor does one gender suffer more than the other. Certain factors can cause some people to suffer more or be more susceptible, such as age, exercise habits and lifestyle. But, WMSDs in healthy people are usually the result of ongoing, strenuous work over long periods of time—what most carpet cleaners experience after several years at work.
Of course, it’s not only carpet cleaners who experience muscular strain. Cleaning tasks, in general, are characterized by a high level of physical demand, repetitive movements, unusual positions and postures and movements. Indeed, studies dating back to the late 1980s indicate that cleaning workers in general have a higher risk of developing health problems, particularly WMSDs, that affect the back, neck and shoulders than do other workers.
Some studies have been conducted to see if intervention, education and training programs will lead to improvements and lessen the occurrence or severity of WMSDs. Although several studies show that there have been improvements with enhanced training, the report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)—the United Kingdom’s health and safety regulations and enforcement in the workplace department—states, “The effectiveness of these training programs to reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders has not been clearly demonstrated. It is generally considered that the provision of information and training alone is unlikely to be effective in reducing risk and that there should be an overall ergonomic approach [to solving the problem].”
It appears that based on the HSE report, designing carpet cleaning equipment that is more ergonomic and easier to use and maneuver is the key to minimizing WMSDs. “Manufacturers have been placing more time, money and research into ergonomic designs,” says Steve Williams, senior vice president for research and development at U.S. Products, a manufacturer of professional carpet, floor and restoration equipment. “And ergonomic issues are coming under even greater scrutiny. I’d even go as far as saying that developing ergonomic machines and green cleaning products is interconnected since they help to reduce cleaning’s impact on the user.”
Williams defines ergonomics as equipment designed to fit the user rather than forcing the worker’s body to fit the machinery. “The key objectives are to reduce the amount of physical stress to the body and prevent work-related injuries,” he says.
According to Williams, jan/san manufacturers are taking multiple steps to make their equipment more ergonomic. For example, for portable, hot water extractors, manufacturers are:
• Adjusting the height control for single-person operation.
• Redesigning the extractor so it stands upright (instead of the more conventional horizontal design), making it easier for one operator to maneuver up and down stairs.
• Repositioning hand controls to eliminate bending and stooping.
• Installing larger rear wheels, making it easier to move the machine up and down stairs and in and out of elevators and doorways.
• Reducing the machine’s weight by encasing the body in durable, yet much lighter polyethylene molds.
• Designing more comfortable and lighter wands and grips.
• Creating one-person designs.
“Ideally, jan/san manufacturers should include carpet cleaners and other cleaning professionals in the design process,” says Williams. “We have found working with carpet cleaning professionals directly not only helps us design the equipment to fit the user, but we learn firsthand their equipment-related needs, concerns and issues.”
Dawn Shoemaker is a researcher and writer for the professional building and cleaning industries.
|ISSA Releases Green Cleaning for Dummies |
Cleaning executives have no excuse for not starting a green cleaning program now that ISSA has published Green Cleaning for Dummies. This industry-specific edition was written by experts Steve Ashkin and David Holly to simplify the green cleaning process.
“Setting up a green cleaning program is easier than people think,” says Ashkin, who has spent more than 25 years in the cleaning industry and the past 17 years advocating for green cleaning. “Based on our experience greening the cleaning industry, we were able to cut this somewhat technical and confusing topic down to size, making it easy for anyone to get started.”
In a time when the concept of green is being applied to many things, Green Cleaning for Dummies provides important and practical information for building owners, facility managers, cleaning product manufacturers, product distributors and service providers. It includes chapters on selecting green chemicals, equipment, paper and other green cleaning tools and supplies. It also provides specific coverage on several types of organizations, including schools and universities, health care facilities and office buildings. Readers also will discover how to measure the impact of going green, choose green products, communicate with clients about their new processes and implement a green training program.
To order your copy of Green Cleaning for Dummies, contact email@example.com; 800-225-4772 (North America) or 847-982-0800.
Government Green Policies Growing
“The growing number of state and local governments that are greening their purchasing practices is helping fuel the growth for environmentally preferable cleaning products and services,” said ISSA Director of Legislative Affairs Bill Balek at the recent ISSA Legislative and Regulatory Forum.
According to Balek, “The growth in green cleaning product procurement policies has been most pronounced in the public sector.” ISSA has identified 14 states and 16 municipalities, counties and school districts that have adopted some type of policy that either mandates or encourages the purchase of green cleaning products.
In the past year alone, New York State, New Jersey, Oregon, Connecticut, and Minneapolis, Minn., have all adopted green cleaning procurement policies. Most recently, Racine County, Wis., announced its launch of an environmentally friendly cleaning campaign called “Green Racine.”
At the time of this writing, another three states (Illinois, Florida and Washington) are considering legislation that would mandate green cleaning procurement policies be put in place.
The North American Green Purchasing Initiative (NAGPI) is also expected to finalize its green cleaning guidance in the coming weeks. NAGPI is an advisory body whose goal is to harmonize environmentally preferable purchasing policies.
In terms of trends toward green cleaning procurement, Balek noted that recently adopted policies tend to define more broadly green cleaning chemical-based products. For example, New Jersey’s recently issued RFP referenced not only Green Seal®, but also the U.S. EPA Design for the Environment Formulator Program and the Environmental Choice EcoLogoM program in defining green cleaners. In addition, recent policies tend to be more comprehensive, addressing not only chemical-based products, but cleaning equipment and cleaning services as well.
More information on state, local and federal government green cleaning procurement policies is available in ISSA’s Green Cleaning Product Procurement Policies, Initiatives and Requirements in the U.S., which is posted at www.issa.com/greenprocure.
|Welcome New ISSA Members! |
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by CleanLink.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of CleanLink.com or its staff. To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines.