A man mopping an office

Contributed By Kaivac

While most cleaning professionals in North America were focused on COVID-19, a March 2020 study in the peer-reviewed journal Safety and Health at Work published findings of how mopping floors regularly can result in varying degrees of pain.

The study involved 132 cleaning professionals, aged 20 to 59, of which 77 were male and 55 female. The participants had all been working as "mopping professionals," as the researchers called them, for at least six months and were randomly selected.  

Along with filling out pain-rating questionnaires, "participants [were] equipped with scientific devices on different body parts." These were EMG (electromyography) devices that helped the researcher determine if the workers were experiencing pain while mopping floors.

Each worker mopped the same sized floor area (approximately 64 square foot area) five times. They were given five-minute breaks after each mopping session.

Among the results were the following:

- Those who had worked as cleaning professionals for one to five years reported the most pain.

- Right shoulder and right-hand pain was reported by 93 percent of those participating in the study.

- Nearly 91 percent of the workers reported lower back pain, as well as pain in elbows, right wrists, and right triceps.

- Left and right bicep pain was reported by 82 percent of the workers.

- Neck and left shoulder pain were reported by 78 percent of the workers.

The researchers concluded that "ergonomic interventions (such as training cleaning workers how to stand correctly, at what height to hold the mop pole, how close the mop pole should be to the body, varying the quantity of water used, and other measures) could help alleviate much of the pain reported.

"However, what they did not look into are ways to eliminate floor mopping entirely," says Matt Morrison, communications manager with Kaivac. "Floor cleaning alternatives have been available for more than 20 years, eliminating the need for mops. There is no reason [for these workers] to be experiencing this much pain when performing floor cleaning tasks."