Risk of musculoskeletal injury among cleaners during vacuuming



Publication Details

Bell, A. F. Steele, J. R. 2012, 'Risk of musculoskeletal injury among cleaners during vacuuming', Ergonomics: an international journal of research and practice in human factors and ergonomics, vol. 55, no. 2, pp. 237-247.


This study aimed to examine the risk of work-related upper-limb musculoskeletal disorders in cleaning workers during the work task of vacuuming. In total, 24 cleaning workers were observed while they performed vacuum cleaning tasks in the normal course of their employment in government schools, hospitality and commercial office space sectors. Risk of upper-limb musculoskeletal disorders were rated using three observational assessment tools: Manual Task Risk Assessment (ManTRA); Quick Exposure Check (QEC); the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA). Mean results (e.g. ManTRA wrist/hand cumulative wrist score 18.67 ± 1.27, QEC neck score 13 ± 1.77, RULA score 6.54 ± 0.509) demonstrated that cleaning workers who perform the task of vacuum cleaning are at risk of work-related upper-limb musculoskeletal injury, regardless of whether they use a back-pack or canister machine. Government school cleaners experienced greater risk of work-related upper-limb musculoskeletal disorders than workers in either the hospitality or commercial office space sectors. PRACTITIONER SUMMARY: Cleaning workers in Australia are mostly female, ageing and of non-English-speaking backgrounds and involved in repetitive manual tasks. Their occupation is low status. This research confirms that vacuuming tasks are a risk for cleaning workers and highlights the need for further research to improve conditions for these workers.

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