Improving Housekeeping Ergonomics, Part III - Check Your EARSS

The previous two housekeeping ergo blogs covered the risk factors of force, frequency, and posture in housekeeping tasks and their relationship to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD’s).

Ergonomic risks are most effectively addressed by modifying the workspace to accommodate the worker.  Unfortunately, many housekeeping tasks cannot have the risks engineered out.  Housekeepers must modify their behavior and use available tools to manage the force and frequency required for the task, as well as their own posture.

What can you do?  Before you work stop and check your E.A.R.S.S.:

  • Evaluate your work area for awkward postures.
    • Identify tasks where:
      • Elbows are at or above shoulder height
      • Upper body is bent forward at the waist
      • Wrists are bent
      • Squatting or kneeling is necessary
      • Twisting and reaching (up/over) a
    • Locate where you can support your upper body when bending over
  • Alternate between tasks (with different force and posture demands). 
    • Bathrooms to bed making
    • Bed making to kitchens/vacuuming
    • Kitchens to bathrooms
    • Switch hands during a task
    • Change direction of rotation (clockwise to counter clockwise)
  • Review, and learn to use the tools you have available for lifting, moving, and reaching.
    • Long or short handled scrubbers, dusters, sweepers
    • Short stools to increase height and decrease overhead reach
    • Keep tools and linen off the floor
  • Soften the points of contact between hard surfaces, knees, elbows, wrists.
    •  Use towels or pads under knees
    •  Look for rounded edges to rest hands or wrists across
  • Stretch often throughout the day and after working in one position for a long time.
    • Increase blood flow by using micro breaks (15-30 seconds) to stretch before, and during, tasks
    • Stretch to reset after sustained or repeated awkward positions
    • Whole body stretch between tasks and between rooms

Good posture, using tools, and rotating tasks are part of worker’s on the job behavior.  Since most behaviors are unconscious, it is critical for housekeepers to develop habits that allow them to make conscious behavior choices for safety while maintaining quality and productivity.


Improving Housekeeping Ergonomics, Part I
Improving Housekeeping Ergonomics, Part II - Risk Relationships