Improving Housekeeping Ergonomics, Part I

Housekeeping is a manual material handling job that requires bending, lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling repetitively throughout the dayoften in awkward postures. Each housekeeping task carries certain risk factors. When these factors occur together during the work shift there is an increased risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs).

The injury potential can be evaluated by how the force, frequency, and posture of the task multiply the risk. 

  • Force is caused by either an internal or external load.  It is determined by gravity, the load lifted, and position of the body.
    • Pressure required to push the scrub brush into the tile
    • Lifting linen, laundry, beds, or furniture
    • Pushing or pulling carts
  •  Frequency is the repetition of a task, or a motion or behavior with in a task. 
    • Bed making, cleaning showers, vacuuming, folding
    • Scrubbing, sweeping, polishing
  • Posture can change efficiency of force on the musculoskeletal system. 
    • Bending to tuck sheet corners
    • Crouching while cleaning behind toilet
    • Installing shower curtains overhead

In general, the greater the force, higher the frequency, and more awkward a posture is while performing a task, the greater the risk of injury. Addressing these risk multipliers, through planning and safe work practices, can improve housekeeping ergonomics while reducing the potential for injury. 

The next Housekeeping Ergonomics blog reviews, in more depth, the relationship between these factors.

For more information on general housekeeping ergonomics use the following links:

Improving Housekeeping ErgonomicsPart II - Risk Relationships
Improving Housekeeping Ergonomics, Part III - Check Your EARSS