University of Wollongong

Research Online
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences - Papers
(Archive)
Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health
2005
An assessment of the repetitive manual tasks of
cleaners
Fiona Weigall
Health & Safety Maters, f.weigall@optusnet.com
Katrina Simpson
kms99@uow.edu.au
Alison F. Bell
University of Wollongong, abell@uow.edu.au
Lynn Kemp
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University of Wollongong. For further information contact the UOW
Library: research-pubs@uow.edu.au
Publication Details
F. Weigall, K. Simpson, A. F. Bell & L. Kemp 2005, An assessment of the repetitive manual tasks of cleaners, WorkCover NSW, Sydney.
An assessment of the repetitive manual tasks of cleaners
Abstract
WorkCover NSW established a Steering Commitee to investigate musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the
cleaning industry following advice arising from the Workplace Safety Summt 2002. In September 2004,
Health & Safety Maters Pty Ltd was appointed to undertake research into this area, with a focus on
conducting an assessment of the upper limbs demands of repettive cleaning ta~ks, and to provide advice on
reducing the risk of MSDs. Te objectives of the project were to: 1. explore the impact of upper limb
musculoskeletal disorder injuries amongst cleaners; 2. describe the physical and work organisational demands
of the upper limb work in cleaning; 3. develop an evidence-based guide to be used in conjunction with risk
assessment checklists; and 4. develop with industry, case study examples of risk assessment to address hazards
commonly faced by general cleaning. Te literature shows there is strong evidence to support the link between
work related upper limb MSDs and physical risk factors such as force, posture, repettion, vibration or a
combination of these factors; work organisation factors; and individual factors such as age and gender.
Terefore, this study investigated all of these areas using a number of quantitative and qualitative data
collection methods. Interviews were conducted with 66 cleaners at 23 worksites, and these explored work
organisation and individual factors. Observation of the equipment, work environment and work tasks were
conducted to gather information on current practices. Video footage was taken of 47 cleaners performing
common cleaning tasks identifed by the Steering Commitee, and these videos were analysed using the
Manual Tasks Risk Assessment Tool (ManTR) and Rapid Upper Limb Assessment Tool (RULA) to
determine the level of risk for upper limb MSD associated with these tasks. Findings from this study are
consistent with other research into cleaning work overseas and in Australia that has confrmed that the
physical demands, work organisation factors and individual characteristics of workers present a number of risk
factors known to contribute to injury and disease, including specifc risks for the development of upper limb
MSDs. Te physical risk analysis identifed that each of the most commonly performed cleaning tasks were
assessed as "requiring changes", with wet-mopping requiring the most immediate action. Te upper limb was
assessed as being at particular injury risk due to the combination of repetition with the other risk factors. Te
interviews with workers in this study highlighted the risks due to work rates, lack of control over the amount
of work, lack of ability to obtain help (if required), as well as the lack of support from supervisors. Also of
concern was the reported lack of consultation (eg regarding equipment selection and work rate seting) in
many businesses, together with their low levels of responsiveness to problems or maintenance.
Keywords
repetitive, manual, cleaners, assessment, tasks
Disciplines
Arts and Humanities | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Social and Behavioral Sciences
Publication Details
F. Weigall, K. Simpson, A. F. Bell & L. Kemp 2005, An assessment of the repetitive manual tasks of cleaners,
WorkCover NSW, Sydney.
Tis report is available at Research Online: htp://ro.uow.edu.au/hbspapers/712
ASSESSMENT
OF THE REPETITIVE MANUAL TASKS
OF CLEANERS
RESEARCH REPORT
WorkCover. Watching out for you.
FOREWORD
COMMISSIONED RESEARCH FINAL REPORT: ASSESSMENT OFTHE REPETlnVE MANUAL
TASKS OF CLEANERS
WorkCover NSWcommissioned this research in 2004 in response to recommendations arising from the
2002 NSWWorkplace Safety Summil
The aim of this research was to assess the occupational health and safety risks associated with repetitive
manual tasks of cleaners, with a view to providing advice on reducing the risk of musculoskeletal diseases
(MSDs). The research focused on assessment of the upper limbs demands of repetitive cleaning tasks. It
is anticipated that this research will be relevant for cleaning work performed in a wide range of industries.
The researcher made a number of recommendations for consideration by WorkCover. Published here are
the Recommendations to WorkCover. These are based on the original recommendations made by the
researcher, and have been reviewed for feasibility by WorkCover. Anumber will be prioritised and
implemented through alignment with WorkCover strategies targeting manual handling. This will include:
reviewing existing WorkCover NSWguidance materials to determine consistency with findings from
this body of research
providing tailored resources to the WorkCover Inspectorate
ongoing review of relevant research
promoting appropriate resources within rehabilitation networks.
Published here are the products from this research project:
the final report: Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners, with recommendations to
WorkCover
the guidelines: An Evidence Based Guide for Safer Cleaning Work.
Final Report
Assessment of the
Repetitive Manual Tasks
of Cleaners
prepared for the
Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
WorkCover NSW
Fiona Weigall
BAppSc(OT), GradCAppErg, GradCAdullEd, MPH, CPE
Katrina Simpson
RN, BAppSc{HM), MSc{Erg), GradDipSareSc, CPE
Alison Bell
BAppSc (OT), GradDipSafe,Sc, MHFESA
& Dr Lynn Kemp
PhD, BHSc(Nurs)
Health & Safety Matters Ply Ltd
PO!lox 707, Gymea, HSW227J
Sydney Ph: (02) 9501 1650 Fax: (02) 95011651
February 2005
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Acknowledgements
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support and assistance from.. ,
The Cleaning Industry Steering Committee:
• Australian Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (NSW Branch)
• Broadlex Cleaning Australia
• BUilding Service Contractors Association of Australia
Medical representative (independent medical practitioner)
• Menzies Group of Companies
• Newcastle University representative (independent academic)
• Swan Services Ply Ltd
• WorkCover NSW
Other organisations:
• Clubs NSW - Registered Clubs Association
• Hotel, Motel and Accommodation Association
• NSW Department of Education and Training
• NSW Department of Commerce - State Procurement
• Tempo Services Limtted
The authors also sincerely thank and acknOWledge the employers and site owners/managers
who generously gave their time and their advice and assisted by completing surveys, allowing
the authors to vistt their premises, observe the cleaning tasks and interview their cleaning
workers, Very special thanks to the cleaning workers who gave their time and advice and
participated in the interviews and discussions and particular thanks to those who also
participated in the more detailed video analyses.
Disclaimer
This research was commissioned by WorkCover NSW on behalf of the Cleaning Steering
Committee, The research conclusions and any views expressed are not necessarily those of
WorkCover NSW.
o Worf<Cover NSWCleaning Industry steering Ccmmllee
Report prepared by Health & Safety Matters Ply Ltd, February 2005
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final Report - Assessment of1he Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
CONTENTS
Acknowledgements 2
Executive Summary 5
1. Background 7
1.1 Introduction to the project 7
1.2 Cleaning workers 8
1.2.1 The workforce 8
1.2.2 Workplace injury and disease in cleaners 9
2. Musculoskeletal disorders and cleaning work 11
2.1 Musculoskeletal disorders 11
2.1.1 Definition and explanation 11
2.2 'Caution Zones' and 'Threshold Limit Values' 13
2.2.1 Definition and explanation 13
2.3 Physical risk factors 15
2.3.1 Definition and explanation 15
2.3.2 Impact of the work environment 17
2.3.3 Equipment 18
2.3.4 Summary 19
2.4 Work organisation factors 19
2.4.1 Definition and explanation 19
Features of good work organisation 21
2.4.2 Job demands, job stress and job support 21
2.4.3 Employment characteristics that impact on the risk of MSDs 23
2.5 Individual characteristics 24
2.5.1 Definition and explanation 24
2.5.2 Physiology & anatomy 25
2.5.3 Age & gender 25
3. Methods 27
3.1 Injury Data Review 27
3.2 Literature Review and Investigation of Assessment Tools 27
3.3 Development of the Cleaners' Survey 28
3.3.1 General Information 28
3.3.2 Musculoskeletal Problems 28
3.3.3 Work organisation and psychosocial issues 29
3.4 Work Environment & Worksite Equipment Survey Tools 31
3.5 Physical Risk Assessment Tools 32
3.6 Site Selection and Sample Size 33
3.7 Data Collection 34
3.8 Measurement of Weight and Forces 35
3.9 Employer survey 35
3.10 Data Analysis 36
3.10.1 Physical Risk Assessment (Mantra, RULA) 36
3.10.2 Analysis of Work Environment and Equipment... 37
3.11 Statistical Analysis 37
4. Results & Discussion 38
4.1 Injury data analysis 38
4.2 Demographic Data 38
4.2.1 Workers' age and number of years cleaning 38
4.2.2 Weight and height 39
4.2.3 Language spoken 39
4.2.4 Work Hours .40
4.2.5 General Heatth .41
4.3 Pain and Discomfort .42
4.4 Work Organisation .43
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual. Tasks of Cleaners
4.4.1 Job Demands and Work Rates 43
4.4.2 Job Control and Influence .46
4.4.3 Job satisfaction and job meaning 47
4.4.4 Support at work, leadership and feedback 49
4.5 Physical Risk Assessment 51
4.5.1 ManTRA 51
4.5.2 Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) 52
4.5.3 Repetitive Work ofthe Upper Limb 53
4.6 Equipment Survey Results 54
4.6.1 Wet mopping equipment 54
4.6.2 Vacuums 55
4.6.3 Floor polishers 55
4.6.4 Emptying waste 56
4.6.5 Cleaning and other trolleys 56
4.6.6 Damp wiping I detailing equipment 56
4.6.7 Equipment selection, purchase and maintenance 57
4.7 Work environment.. 61
4.8 Weights and forces 66
4.9 Employer survey 67
5. Summary & Conclusions : 68
5.1 Overview 68
5.2 Physical risk factors 68
5.2.1 Task demands 68
5.2.2 Equipment.. 69
5.2.3 Work environment 69
5.3 Work organisation factors 70
5.4 Individual factors 71
6. Conclusion 72
7. Recommendations 73
7.1 Introduction 73
7.2 Recommendations to WorkCover NSW 74
7.2.1 Legislation and gUidance 74
7.2.2 Resources for the cleaning industry and rehabilitation providers 75
8. References 76
@WorkCaverNSW Cleaning Industly Steering Committee
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Executive Summary
WorkCover NSW established a Steering Committee to investigate musculoskeletal disorders
(MSDs) in the cleaning industry following advice arising from the Workplace Safety Summtt
2002. In September 2004, Health & Safety Matters Pty Ltd was appointed to undertake
research into this area, with a focus on conducting an assessment of the upper limbs demands
of repetttive cleaning t   ~ k s and to provide advice on reducing the risk of MSDs.
The objectives of the project were to:
1. explore the impact of upper limb musculoskeletal disorder injuries amongst cleaners;
2. describe the physical and work organisational demands of the upper limb work in
cleaning;
3. develop an evidence-based guide to be used in conjunction with risk assessment
checklists; and
4. develop with industry, case study examples of risk assessment to address hazards
commonly faced by general cleaning.
The literature shows there is strong evidence to support the link between work related upper
limb MSDs and physical risk factors such as force, posture, repetttion, vibration or a
combination of these factors; work organisation factors; and individual factors such as age and
gender. Therefore, this study investigated all of these areas using a number of quantitative
and qualitative data collection methods.
Interviews were conducted with 66 cleaners at 23 worksites, and these explored work
organisation and individual factors. Observation of the equipment, work environment and work
tasks were conducted to gather information on current practices. Video footage was taken of
47 cleaners performing common cleaning tasks identified by the Steering Committee, and
these videos were analysed using the Manual Tasks Risk Assessment Tool (ManTRA) and
Rapid Upper Limb Assessment Tool (RULA) to determine the level of risk for upper limb MSD
associated with these tasks.
Findings from this study are consistent with other research into cleaning work overseas and in
Australia that has confirmed that the physical demands, work organisation factors and
individual characteristics of workers present a number of risk factors known to contribute to
injury and disease, including specific risks for the development of upper limb MSDs.
The physical risk analysis identified that each of the most commonly performed cleaning tasks
were assessed as "requiring changes", with wet-mopping requiring the most immediate action.
The upper limb was assessed as being at particular injury risk due to the combination of
repetition with the other risk factors.
The interviews with workers in this study highlighted the risks due to work rates, lack of control
over the amount of work, lack of ability to obtain help (if required), as well as the lack of
support from supervisors. Also of concern was the reported lack of consultation (eg regarding
equipment selection and work rate setting) in many businesses, together with their low levels
of responsiveness to problems or maintenance.
The large proportion of workers that reported pain and discomfort, as well as the average age
of the cleaning workforce and large proportion of females were also risk factors for MSDs.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
These risks factors, combined wtth the physical and work organisation risk factors, place this
population at increased risk of injury.
The project highlighted that the cleaning industry's current management of OHS and
specifically MSDs needs immediate attention and improvement. Wtth the current conditions in
the cleaning industry, any expectation of improvements in productivtty wtthout significant
changes in work organisation, the work environment or equipment would be unrealistic and
would be placing cleaners at unnecessary risk of sustaining a MSD. The areas where
significant improvements could be made in reducing the risk of MSDs are in work organisation
and the equipment provided to cleaning workers.
However before the risks associated wtth MSDs can be managed in the cleaning industry,
improvements in OHS systems need to be made in all sectors that employ or contract cleaning
workers. Therefore, the recommendations made in this report are based on a systematic
approach where changes need to be made at all levels, as each has influence on the ability to
increase or decrease the risk of cleaning workers sustaining MSDs. Recommendations have
been made for:
WorkCover
Government departments
Employers
Property owners and managers
Designers and equipment manufacturers and suppliers'
Workers
Furthermore, specific recommendations have been made on how to reduce risks associated
wtth the cleaning tasks assessed in this study. These are included in the evidence based
guide that incorporates information on risk assessments, controls and case studies. The
evidence based guide provides a brief summary of the current literature on MSD risks and
injury prevention, and includes the findings from this study, wtth advice about the 'high risk'
and 'low risk' approaches. The evidence based gUide does not include 'caution zones' or
'threshold Iimtts' as the most current literature does not recommend these and explains that
these are impossible to provide for MSDs due to the complex interaction of the large number of
different risk factors.
@WorkCaverNSWCleaning Industry Steering Committee
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@WorkCaverNSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
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1.
final Report - Assessment afthe Repetitive Manual Tasks of CleanetS
Background
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
referring to the new Draft National Standard and Code of Practice for the Prevention of
Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) from Manual Handling at work (NOHSC 2004).
1.1 Introduction to the project
The Workplace Safety Summit 2002 identified and recommended the need to review design
and other factors, which contributed to musculoskeletal injury and occupational overuse
syndrome (OOS) in the Cleaning Industry (WorkCover 2002a).
At the Summit:
'The working group...discussed musculoskeletal injury and occupational overuse for Ihe
Cleaning Industry ... the high risk of injury associated with haVing to clean large surface areas,
in reduced timeframes, due to productivity savings'
In response to this recommendation, WorkCover NSW established a Steering Committee
comprising representatives from WorkCover, LHMU, Building Service Contractors Association
of Australia (BSCAA), NSW Cleaning Industry and independents (an academic and medical
praelitioner). The Steering Committee administered commissioned research into quantifying
th.e upper limb demands of repetitive manual tasks performed by cleaners - an area not
previously investigated in any depth in Australia. In September 2004, WorkCover NSW
appointed Health &Safety Matters pty Ltd to undertake this research.
The objeelives of the project were to:
a) Explore the impael of upper limb musculoskeletal disorder injuries amongst cleaners;
b) Describe the physical and work organisational demands of the upper limb work in
cleaning;
c) Develop an evidence-based guide to be used in conjunelion with risk assessment
checklists in the manual handling codes to enable an objective valid and reliable
assessment of level of exposure to risk of musculoskeletal disorders when repetitive
upper extremity wor!< is performed; and
d) Develop with industry, case study examples of risk assessment to address hazards
commonly faced by general cleaning.
In response to identified needs areas, the following industry sectors were nominated by the
Steering Committee to be addressed through the research projeel:
"govemment utilities (eg schools);
commercial office space;
commercial recreational facilities (Clubs, Hotels/Resorts etc); and
commercial residential (Motels etcr.
In addition, the Steering Committee requested that the most repetitive cleaning tasks be
assessed as a priority.
The project incorporates the NSW legislative requirements including using a risk management
approach, conSUlting with the employees, and considering each organisation's 'duty of care'
under the OHS Act 2000. For guidance the project utilises the National Standard for Manual
Handling and the Code of Practice for Manual Handling (NOHSC 1990), and the Code of
Praelice for the Prevention of Occupational Overuse Syndrome (NOHSC 1994), while also
@Wot1<CoverNSWCleaning n   ~ Steering Committee 7
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A range of approaches was used to gather sufficient quantitative and qualitative data to meet
the project objectives. These included the consideration of biomechanical, psychophysical,
physiological and epidemiological data. The main emphasis was on the biomechanical,
psychophysical and epidemiological approaches. The explanations of each of these methods
are provided in Table 1.
Table 1 - Approaches to determining risk of a task, and establishing limits
ApDroach Methods
Biomechanical Focuses on the compressive and shear forces. moments and reactions on
the joints and body structures at different angles used in manual handling
Physiological Uses metabolic load limitations such as oxygen consumption, heart rate
and fatigue, and can also Use the measurement ofintra-abdominal
pressure
Psychophysical Based on peoples' advice and opinions regarding how they feel and what
they find is acceptable, eg as maximum loads.
Epidemiological Uses workplace risk factors and injury patterns together with personal risk
faclors to determine the level of risk
(Adapled from Mllal, Nicholson & Ayoub 1993, and Stevenson 1999)
The project was conducted in a year of pending changes to major NSW government cleaning
contracts and industrial aelion by cleaners working on these contracts, and consequently
needed to be sensitive to the industrial climate. The cleaners' industrial action was to highlight
their concerns about planned changes to the NSWgovernment's cleaning contracts which they
feared may reduce the number of cleaners employed, reduce the number of hours worked per
cleaner, and reduce occupational health and safety (OHS) activity in the industry (Owens
2004). An ongoing but increasing concem reported by the cleaners' union in NSW is the
demands by cleaning companies for increased productivity and faster cleaning rates by
cleaners, partiCUlarly in schools (LHMU 1999; LHMU 2004).
This project therefore aimed to address the concerns of each of the stakeholders by objectively
reviewing the current state of the cleaning industry in NSW in relation to repetitive manual
handling tasks and the risk of upper limb mUSCUloskeletal disorders (MSDs), providing advice
about how to reduce the risks, and also considering how improvements in produelivity could be
achieved.
1.2 Cleaning workers
1.2.1 The workforce
There are approximately 92,000 cleaners in Australia, making up 1% of employed persons
(ABS 2003), and 35,000 cleaners in NSW (BSCAA 2004). Typical work in the industry is
providing 'general cleaning services' such as routine vacuuming, dusting and waste collection
(ABS 2001). In addition to the specific occupational group of 'cleaners' as defined by
occupational coding (ABS 1997), there are many other workers in Australia whose role
includes selected cleaning tasks, and this project also briefly investigates the common
@WorkCover NSWCleaning Industry Steering Committee 8
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Musculoskeletal disorders in cleaners represented 4% of total workers compensation claims in
Australia in 2001/02 (NOHSC 2003). Interestingly this figure is equal to the cases for
musculoskeletal disorder in the Construction and Mining Industries for the same period and
with the same number of people employed in the industry. As compared with frequency rates
of musculoskeletal disorders in all other occupations, cleaners have almost three times the
average rate (cleaners -1.1; all occupations - 0.4) (NOHSC 2003).
cleaning tasks undertaken in commercial residential and commercial recreational facilities by
Room Attendants and other workers in the hospitality sector. Socioeconomically, cleaners are
one of the lowest paid occupational groups in Australia (ABS 2002).
A detailed analysis of the cleaning industry in 1998-99 (ABS1999) revealed that the total
income from this industry was $2137 million, with an operating profit margin of 7.3%. labour
costs were estimated at 70% of total expenses. The largest sector for income was from
cleaning commercial buildings and offices (accounting for approximately 42% of income),
followed by cleaning educational premises (accounting for 16% of income) and retail premises
(accounting for 15% of income).
The peak cleaning industry representative bodies in Australia are the Building Service
Contractors Association of Australia (BSCAA) and the Australian Cleaning Contractors'
Association Inc (ACCA). The NSW branch of BSCAA consists of 94 member companies
which reportedly represent over 80% of the NSW market, and ACCA specialises in small to
medium-sized businesses.
Table 2- Comparison of injury rates
InjUlY rates
In'urv freauenev rale all iniuries
In'uN incidence rate all in' ries
Musculoskeletal disorder in'urvfreauer:u:vrate
Cleaners
23,1 injuries
25.6 in"uries
1.1 in'uries
All occupations
10.5 in'uries
17.7 in"uries
0.4 in'uries
According to the BSCAA (2004), there are a very small number of 'large' cleaning businesses
in NSW (employing more than 100 cleaners) with typical cleaning businesses being either
small (5 t020 employees) or micro (less than 5 employees). This data is consistent with ABS
data showing less than 2% of Australian cleaning companies employ more then 100 persons,
'butthese large businesses account for 52% of all cleaning industry employment (ABS 2002).
More recent data regarding properly and business services show that this sector is one of the
fastest growing with a 35% increase in employment in the period 1995 to 2000, representing
the third biggest employing industry sector (ABS 2003). According to the lHMU (1999) there
is an increasing number of small and franchised cleaning businesses, and an increasing rate
of sub-contracting in Australia.
In NSW the contract for cleaning the 3,200 government owned facilities (such as schools,
technical colleges, government departments, libraries etc) was worth $762 million in the year
2000 (NSW legislative Assembly Hansard 2000). Approximately 6,800 cleaners are currently
working at these government sites under 3 large cleaning companies who were awarded the
contracts in 1999 (Cook 2004).
1.2.2 Workplace injury and disease in cleaners
Although cleaners represent just 1% of the working population (ABS 2002), they show high
rates of injury and disease. Cleaners as an occupational group have a frequency rate of 23.1
for all injuries, as compared with the 'all occupations' rate of 10.5 (rate per million hours
worked), and an incidence rate of 25.6 as compared with all occupations rate of 17.7 (rate per
thousand employees) (NOHSC 2003). These figures are summarised in Table 2.
The main mechanism of injury in cleaners in NSW is body stressing, accounting for 45% of all
claims in the past 10 years (WorkCover NSW 2002b), and this typically results in the
development of a musculoskeletal disorder. Body stressing is classified as including:
Muscular stress while lifting, carrying or pUlling down objects
Muscular stress while handling objects other than lifting, carrying or putting down
Muscular stress with no objects handle
Repetitive movement, low muscle loading
(NOHSC 2003)
The high rate of injury in the cleaning industry is clearly demonstrated by the Insurance
Premiums rate in NSW (WorkCover 2004). According to the premium rates, workers in
Cleaning Services for government cleaning contracts are at greater risk than workers in
mining, demolition, and abbatoirs, and the cleaning services are more than 4 times as
dangerous as pest control services. Table 3 provides a summary of s e l ~ t e   premium rates.
Table 3-Insurance Premium Rates in NSW
IndUStry title Insurance rate (2004-2005)
Cleaninn Services NSW-Govemment Contractl 15.00%
Demolition work 13.44%
Abbatoirs 12.50%
Undernround mininn lead, zinc, conner 11.40%
Cleanina Services non-Government Contract) 10.99%
Pest Control Services 3.45%
C WorkCover NSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
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@WQfkCover NSW Cleaning Industry Steeling Committee
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
2. Musculoskeletal disorders and cleaning work
2.1 Musculoskeletal disorders
example, the terms repetition strain injury (RSI), occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), and
cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) reflect the notion that repetition and overuse are the key
factors resulting in injury or disease, and this may serve to perpetuate the notion that disorders
are only the result of physical factors.
Burgess-Limerick (2003) summarises the injury and disease process related to physicat
loading as follows:
To be consistent with current international and national researchers and most OHS
jurisdictions, the term musculoskeletal disorders and the abbreviation 'MSD' will be used in this
report. To identify upper limb musculoskeletal disorders the term 'upper limb MSD' will be
used. The term musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) reflects the current knowledge that exposure
to a combination of these various factors (physical, worll organisation/psychosocial and
individual) can result in physiological changes in the worller's body and subsequent injury and
disease processes. Injury is rarely the result of exposure to one risk factor or one event.
"Acute injuries are associated with a relatively short exposure to loads which exceed
tissue tolerance.
Cumulative injuries... occur as a consequence to retatively long term exposure to
load... (and) the general mechanism ofinjury is ... an accumulation of microdamage
which exceeds the tissue's capacity for repair.
Injuries may also occur as a combination .... where a history of cumulative loading
leads to reduced tissue tolerance, which is then exceeded by short term exposure to a
relatively high intensfty load".
Some of the specffic diagnoses given to upper limb MSDs (Slutter et al 2001) include:
Rotator Cuff Syndrome;
Epicondylitis -lateral and medial;
Nerve compression syndromes (eg Carpal tunnel syndrome, Cubital tunnel
syndrome, Radial tunnel syndrome, Guyon canal syndrome);
Peritendinttis;
Tenosynovitis;
De Querva!n's disease;
Raynaud's phenomenon; and
12
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Syrrptoms that may result from this injury or disease process include:
pain;
stiffness;
• tingling;
clumsiness;
loss at coordination;
loss of strength;
skin discolouration;
differences in temperature; and
numbness (Sluiter et al 2001; Health Council of the Netherlands 2000).
As musculoskeletal disorders are generally caused by a combination 01 different factors, they
are commonly reterred to as being 'multi-factorial' in nature (Sluiter et al 2001).
".. .injuries that affect the bones, joints, muscles and tendons, and nerves of/he human body.
Musculoskeletal disorders can occur suddenly or over a prolonged period of time. Common
types of musculoskeletal disorders are:
Sprains and strains;
Injuries to muscles, intervertebral discs and other stmclures in the back
Injuries to soft tissues such as nerves, ligaments and tendons in the wrists, arms and
shoulders"
(NOHSC 2004)
Musculoskeletal disorders in the upper limbs develop from a wide range of factors that are
generally grouped as:
physical factors;
• worll organisation and psychosocial factors; and
individual factors.
2.1.1 Definition and explanation
Musculoskeletal disorders have been defined in Australia as:
A summary ot risk tactors contributing to the development 01 worll related muSCUloskeletal
disorders are provided at Table 4.
Table 4. Summary of risk factors contributing to the development of work related musculoskeletal
disorders (Burgess--Umeridk 2003; Heallh Council of the Netherlands 2000; Devereux at al 2004;
Landsbergis 2003; WERe 2003a & 2003b).
Terminology for these disorders has changed over the past 20 years, wtth earlier titles moving
out of favour by many health practitioners and researchers due to their narrow definition. For
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Physical Risk Factors Work Organisation and Individual Risk Factors
Psychosocial Risk Factors
Task factors:
·
Job demands
·
Age
·
Repetition
·
Job control
·
Gender
·
Weights and forces
·
Job support and social relations
·
Pre-existing musculoskeletal
·
Posture
·
Satisfaction and importance disorders
·
Vibration
·
Socioeconomic status
·
Skills and experience
Work environment
Work equipment
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
a number of non-specific MSDs. "Quantitative threshold limit values for weight, force or other risk factors should not be
provided within manual tasks regulation or advisory material".
According to WorkCover NSW data, sprains and strains remain the largest reported injury
group accounting for 64% of all workplace injuries in NSW in 2000/01, and 70% of costs (WCA
2002).
For the disorder to be considered work-related, the symptoms should begin, recur or worsen
with work (Sluiter et al 2001). Detennining the work-relatedness of MSDs can be dilficult due
to the wide range of factors that can all contribute to or cause the disorder, as well as
interaction among a combination of occupational and non-occupational factors.
Experts warn that providing specific limits (in   weight or force etc) is misleading and
likely to perpetuate the belief that MSDs develop from single isolated factors that affect
individuals in the same way, with a lack of regard for other factors that impact on risk, or even
multiply the risk (Kilborn 1994; Burgess-Limerick 2003; Government Ergonomists 2003).
For example, as Kilborn (1994) points out, the commonly reported risk factor of 'repetition'
interacts with other factors to make a manual task either more or less hazardous for the
worker. These factors that are known to impact on repetition are:
To prevent or reduce the occupational risk factors in MSDs, governments and industries have
been investigating various risk management methods to guide them in injury prevention. The
use of guidance material such as caution zones and threshold limit valUes for manual tasks
have been explored, and these are described below.
2.2 'Caution Zones' and 'Threshold Limit Values'
2.2.1 Definition and explanation
The title 'caution zone jobs' appears to have developed in the States when the
Ergonomics Rule was proposed to the Federal Government there (OSHA 1999). In this
proposed RUle, caution zone jobs were defined as jobs where a worker's typical work activities
included anyone of the following physical risk factors: awkward postures, high hand force,
highly repetitive motions, repeated impacts, heavy, frequent or awkward lifting, and moderate
to high hand-ann vibration. Employers who identified that their workers were' exposed to any
of these risk factors listed in the 'caution zone' were to conduct a thorough assessment of the
job and then reduce the relevant risk factors.
force (inclUding high force at a low rate and low force at a high rate)
type of muscle work used (ie static or dynamic)
body part used
whether the joint is close to the body (eg the shoulder) or distal to it
posture ofthe joint
speed and acceleration of the movement
duration of the task (minutes per day and number of years)
activities or tasks done prior to and following the task
skills and experience of the worker
amount of control the worker has
autonomy of the worker
perceived monotony andlor time pressure
temporary increases in work demands, etc
However the recommendations from all of the most recent investigations are that no specific
'limits' or 'safe amounts' can be provided for musculoskeletal disorders.
These internationally recognised experts in MSDs conclude that is not possible to provide
specific quantitative measures for manual tasks due to the complex and multi-factorial nature
of the development of manual handling injuries and diseases. As Burgess-Limerick (2003)
advised Australia's National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC):
Over the last few years there has been much investigation and debate regarding the provision
of caution zones and threshold for manual handling activities (OSHA 1999; Burgess-
Limerick 2003; Bottomley 2003a; Government Ergonomists Network 2003; Caple 2003). The
provision of specific for whole tasks or for the various risk factors could assist industry
by simplifying risk assessment and risk control as well as guiding OHS jurisdictions in
enforcement activities.
Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) are exposure guidelines developed by the American
Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) to assist industrial hygienists in
making decisions regarding safe levels of exposure to various hazards found in the workplace.
A TLV reflects the level of exposure that the typical worker can experience mhout an
unreasonable risk of disease or injury. TLVs are available for chemicals as well as physical
agents such as cold stress, hand-anm (segmental) vibration, whole-body vibration, heat stress
and heat strain, ionizing radiation and noise.
The also recommends that while guidance material can assist industry to manage
manual handling, experts in the area should also be consulted due to the complex interaction
of the risk factors. Some Australian Ergonomists fear that jurisdictions may try to oversimplify
the issues with manual handling and musculoskeletal disorders to appease industry, but this
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Kilborn concludes that:
Despite the inability to provide specific quantitative limits, the also agrees that
general guidance in each of the factors can be provided, with advice about the features that
place workers at a high risk and low risk of developing a MSD. The area between these two
extremes could be considered a 'caution zone'. Again it is necessary for industry to consider
the interaction between the factors and the cumulative nature of exposure to the risk factors.
"No epidemiological data ;s avaHable today in support of statements concerning acceptable
duration of repetitive work"
For example a task that may appear 'easy' or 'low risk' as it requires minimal repetnion or
minimal force could be rated 'high risk' in other areas such as the awkward posture adopted,
the lack of for changes in tasks, the job being in jeopardy due to a change in
cleaning contracts, a demanding and unsupportive supervisor, together with a worker who has
a history of a shoulder injury. Each of these other factors serves to affect the total risk of a
task. It is because of all these different factors that no one (1) 'safe' or 'unsafe' limit is valid or
reliable.
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action may result in the problems not being properly managed and resolved (Government
Ergonomists 2003). As they reported to Australia's National Occupational Health and Safety
Commission (NOHSC):
"Manual handling is a camp/ex area there is a limit to how far we should 'dumb down' the
Code".
(Referring to the draft plans for the new National Standard and Code of, Practice for the
Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) from Manual Handling at Work (NOHSC
2004).
The authors above argue that companies and OHS jurisdictions need to acknowledge that for
some OHS issues (including manual handling), specialist expertise should be sought. Many at
the assessment and interPretation methods require specialist training, together with a solid
background in ergonomics, health, safety and/or the behavioural sciences.
Final Report - Assessment otthe Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Table 5 - Evidence for the correlation between physical work-related factors and upper limb MSDs
(OSHA 1999)
MSD location or Number Risk factors
diagnosis of studies
Force Posture Repetition Vibration Combination
(staUcor
extreme)
Neck & > 40 ++ +++ ++ +/0 (-)
neck/shoulder
Shoulder > 20 +/0 ++ ++ +/0 -
Elbow > 20 ++ +/0 +/0 - +++
Carpal tunnel > 30 ++ +/0 ++ ++ +++
Handlwlist 8 ++ ++ ++ (-) +++
tendinitis
Hand-arm vibration 20 - - +++ -
A review of the current knowledge of all of the risk factors for work related MSDs, including
upper limb MSDs, is provided below.
+++
++
+10
(-)
strong evidence of lMJrk relatedness
Evidence of work relatedness
Insuffident ev;dence of v.ork relatedness (studies lack quality Of power)
Association is not reported
2.3.1 Definition and explanation
A comprehensive survey undertaken for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health (NIOSH) in the United states analysed 600 studies for causal relationships between
workllask factors and the development of MSDs (Bemard 1997). This survey identitied that
the key risk factors for work-related upper limb MSDs were force, posture, repetition, vibration
and/or a combination of these factors. A summary of the evidence is provided in Table 5.
Physical risk factors for work-related MSDs include:
• the physical demands of the task;
the physical work environment; and
the design and use of the work equipment.
2.3 Physical risk factors
Similar studies from Europe have also identified these physical risk factors as contributing to
work related upper limb MSDs (Health Council of the Netherlands 2000; Buckle & Devereux
2002).
There have been a number of studies from around the world that have identified a high rate of
musculoskeletal and other disorders in cleaners and have explored the specific risk factors
contributing to these disorders (Woods et al 1999; Sjogren et al 2003; Landstad. Schuldt et al
2001; Gamperiene et al 2003; Nordander et al 2000; Leigh & Miller 1997; OSHA 1997;
Landstad, Eckholm et a12000; Pierre-Jerome et al1996; Toivanen et al1993; Jonsson, 1988).
The studies have included analysis of the postural and muscular demands of the tasks via
surface electromyography, local pressure pain thresholds, posture surveys, force handles,
ratings of perceived exertion (Larsson et al 2002; Persson et al 2003; Laursen et al 2003;
Sogaar et al 2001; Nordander et al 2000; Jonsson 1988; Johansson & Ljunggren 1989; Aickin
& Carrasco 1998) and some earlier studies included a wide range of measures (Sogaard et al
1996; Winkel et al1989; Hagner &Hagberg 1989).
Other physiological measures investigated in the cleaning research have included the
cardiovascular and oxygen demands in selected cleaning tasks as measured by blood
pressure, oxygen uptake, heart rates, metabolic rates and ratings of perceived exertion
(Balogh et al 2004; Norman et al 2003; Andrew et al 1998; Gunn et al 2002; Bassett et al
2000).
Results from these studies into cleaning tasks and cleaners illustrate that many common
cleaning tasks require people to work in awkward postures while also working with high
cardiovascular loads and with their muscles working under high, median, static and peak
loads. Fatigue and pain were common complaints in most of these studies. The main areas of
the musculoskeletal system that were under stress were the back, shoulder girdle, neck, and
upper limbs. These studies highlight a number of risk factors that are all strongly associated
with the development of MSDs:
• working in awkward postures;
• working under high static load;
doing repetitive work;
using high forces;
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Final Report - Assessment of the RepetitiVe Manual Tasks of Cleaners
• working wfth vibration; and
• combinations of these factors (OSHA 1999).
Cleaners with ahistory of a MSD have been found to have developed microscopic changes in
their musculoskeletal anatomy and physiology. For example studies investigating shoulder
girdles and the upper trapezius muscle identified different muscle fibre structures and
electromyographic responses in cleaners wfth a history of shoulder girdle pain compared with
cleaners wfthout a history of shoulder girdle pain. They also noted a correlation with tender
points in the cleaners' trapezius muscles (Larsson et al 2002; Larsson et al 2001; Larsson,
Bjork & Henriksson et a! 2000).
Another study of cleaners with shoulder pain showed increases in pain thresholds and fatigue
after muscular exertion (Norman et al 2003). Damage to the function of nerves in the carpal
tunnel of cleaners' wrists has also been identified. Researchers found that in a random
sample of healthy cleaners and healthy non-cleaners, the cleaners' median nerves had poor
electrophysiological function (Pierre-Jerome et aI1996).
These anatomical and physiological changes can have a direct impact on cleaners' work ability
and future health. For example, studies of shoulder muscles showed that cleaners with
shoulder pain had reduced endurance in the muscles and higher levels of perceived exertion.
There was also a reduction in the ability to relax the muscles, and this was considered to be
indicative of future insufficiency in these muscles (Larsson, Bjork, Elert et al 2000).
2.3.2 impact of the work environment
The design and layout of the work environment is a well known factor that can create or
contribute to the high physical demands of jobs. A study by OSHA (1999) reported that
cramped work areas resulted in workers adopting twisted and bent postures, and furniture and
fixtures that required awkward postures or excessive force to move. To reduce these risks,
workplace modification should be an integral part of an injury prevention program (Westgaard
& Winkel 1997).
In past research into the cleaning industry there has been generally only minimal examination
of the design and layout of work areas and the impact on risks for cleaners, wfth at best a brief
overview, of the typical features of the environments. Many studies were laboratory based so
did not simulate all of the features of the cleaners' normal work environments. However some
field-based studies have considered the environment, identifying the increased risk of shoulder
and back injuries when cleaners need to work in cramped work areas and need to move
furniture in order to clean (Messing et al 1998; Woods et al 1999; Johansson & Ljunggren
1989). The movement of furniture in these studies was typically done one-handed as the
cleaner held the vacuum or mop wfth the other hand, and the furniture was often heavy or
awkward to move.
Only one study outlines how soft furnishings and fixtures influenced cleaning requirements,
methods, and air quality (Smedje & Norback 2001). This study based on 181 schools in
Sweden, found that classrooms with more fabrics resulted in more sellied dust, and
classrooms wfth chalkboards had more dust than those with wMeboards. The study also
noted high levels of dog and cat allergens (as about one quarter of children kept pets at
home), respirable dust, bacteria, moulds, sellied dust, formaldehyde and volatile organic
compounds.
FInal Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
In this school study, the measurable pollutants varied according to cleaning method and
surfaces. Wet mopping increased the airborne concentrations of viable bacteria, while dry
mopping was related to more settled dust. Recommendations were made for cleaners to clean
chairs and desks more regularly as this furniture had the highest concentration of animal
allergens, and the study concluded that furnishings and textiles were all reservoirs of different
irmants and allergens and so affected indoor air qualfty for everyone at the schools. It is not
known how cleaning requirements are determined for Australian schools.
A NSW study based at schools and technical colleges also commented on risks within the
environment, including poor access to commonly used equipment (such as industrial waste
bins, cleaning equipment etc), difficult access within bUildings, lack of storage, cluttered
workspace, poor lighting, exposure to heat, cold and noise (Gaudry 1998). A NSW study into
wet mopping also noted the impact of the environment on risk, with work postures changing
from upright in open areas to twisted and stooped in confined areas such as toilets or around
furniture (Paver et al 1997). Remedial actions taken since these problems were identified are
not known.
2.3.3 Equipment
A recent study in the United Kingdom has provided a very detailed analysis of common
cleaning equipment (for wet mopping, floor buffing, and vacuuming) based on expert
assessment, worker surveys, focus groups, and worksfte and laboratory assessments (Woods
et a11999; Woods & Buckle in press 2004). From these assessments they found:
"...a number of inadequacies in the design of commonty used cleaning equipment that result
in:
• Extreme, static or cons/rained postures
Repetitive movements
• Heavy workload and
High force requirements"
(Woods & Buckle in press 2004)
The report further noted that much of the cleaning equipment used was not well suited to either
the task or the user. Consequently, the report provides practical suggestions for equipment
selection and design to reduce injury and assist wfth worker comfort.
An earlier project undertaken for the WorkCover NSW BackWatch program investigated the
range of wet mopping equipment and undertook expert comparisons for ease of use and to
assist in reducing effort and improving postures and safety (Paver et al 1997). This included
postural analysis of cleaners undertaking mopping in different work settings. This study also
found that mop size, bucket design, handle length and other factors affected the cleaners'
technique, posture, fatigue, speed and general work comfort. A WorkCover publication
provided a summary of the report's recommendations so that industry and the cleaners could
benefit from this work (WorkCover 1998).
A study of cleaners at NSW schools and technical colleges (Gaudry 1998) crfticised the
equipment used by the contractors stating much was:
"outdated and unsuitable" and was "compounded by poor maintenance systems'.
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Many examples were given to illustrate these points. A lack of equipment on the sites was
also identified, with survey respondents reporting the need to carry heavy equipment up and
down stairs, including pulling floor polishers reported to weigh 45kg. Another study based at
NSW schools also reported on problems wnh equipment, noting the need for additional
equipment to reduce exertion, improve posture, while also assisting with productivny (Aickin &
Carrasco 1998).
Many studies conclude that there appears to be:
a lack of assessment and trial of equipment prior to purchase;
a lack of consuilation with the users;
unsuitable or non-existent maintenance and replacement schedules; and
some confusion over roles and responsibilities of the parties regarding equipment
purchase, maintenance, and storage
(Woods et al 1999; Woods & Buckle in press 2004; Gaudry 1998; Aickin & Carasco 199B;
Paver et al 1997).
Despite the researchers' concern to improve equipment, they all caution that physical risk
factors are just one aspect of work, and Woods and Buckle (in press 2004) explain that:
·Concentrating only on physical work ergonomic factors may not achieve as much benefit in
terms of a reduction in sickness rates/musculoskeletal ill health as a more holistic approach
that also takes account of work organisational risk factors".
2.3.4 Summary
The current research into cleaning work both overseas and in Australia has confirmed that the
physical demands of cleaning work present a number of risk factors known to contribute to
injury and disease, including specific risks for the development of upper limb MSDs. In
addition, there is clear evidence of microscopic changes and damage in cleaners'
musculoskeletal structures, and these changes often contribute to disability and pain in these
workers.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
II. The organisational context - including the management structure, supervisory practices,
production methods and human resource policies; and
III. The work context - including job characteristics such as work climate and cuilure, the
demands of the task, socials-relational aspects of work, workers roles and career
development.
Landsbergis (2003) also noted that:
•The organization of work can have an important impact on stress-related health outcomes
such as cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders and psychological disorders".
The current Australian Code of Practice for Manual Handling (NOHSC 1990) lists work
organisation as a potential risk factor for the development of MSDs, and it defines this as:
staffing levels;
availability of equipment;
work schedules;
shift work;
wOrk-pace;
task variety;
rest breaks;
recovery time; and
• work procedures.
Other definnions of work organisation use this term synonymously with 'psychosocial factors'.
In the past, risk factors for work-related MSDs have been viewed predominantly from a
physical perspective, with minimal consideration of the work organisation and psychosocial
factors. However recently published studies based on extensive reviews of the literature now
provide detailed lists of the work organisation and psychosocial factors that contribute to the
risk of work related MSDs, including injuries to the upper limbs (Devereux et al 2004;
Landsbergis 2003). A summary is provided in Table 6.
Table 6. Work organisation and psychosocial factors contributing to MSDs (adapted from Devereux et
al 2004 & Landsbergis 2003)
As well as identifying physical and work sile design factors, many reports also highlighted the
importance of psychosocial factors in the development of MSDs, and in partiCUlar work
organisation and psychosocial factors (Landsbergis 2003; Health Council of the Netherlands
2000; Buckle & Devereux 2002; Devereux et al 2004). These work organisation and
psychosocial factors are described below.
2.4 Work organisation factors
2.4.1 Definition and explanation
The National Instnute of Occupational Safety and Health in the USA (NIOSH) in a recently
developed model by Landsbergis (2003) suggests that 'work organization' (sic) includes three
different, but related contexts:
The external context - including the economic, legal, political, technical and demographic
features at a national and international level;
Risk factors
Wor1<demands
Job control
Job support
Specific problems
Poorly designed or managed workload
Poor work scheduling with insufficient time for recovery
Poorly designed job
Increased job intensification
Increased overtime
High worldoads
Time pressures
lack of skill disaetion
lack of authority
lack of autonomy
Minimal control over rest-break timing and duration
lack of appropriate proactive and reactive support at work
Failure to match neome's skills with their 'ob
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Relationships
Role conflict
Change
Failure to take into account other individual factors
Poorty designed or managed procedures for eliminating damaging
conflict at individual/team level
supervisor, colleagues and/or management
Inappropriate levels of role ambiguity
Inappropriate levels of responsibility
Lack of a planned or active strategy for change
Poorty designed or managed strategies for overcoming resistance
Lack of appropriate consultation with employees over change
Lack of appropriate support for new employees
Poorly designed or managed wftoJs of working with newtechnology
The task characteristics outlined by the above studies are typical aspects of occupations (such
as cleaning), which are commonly perceived to be 'low status jobs',. Studies of overall
population heatth have highlighted the relevance of socioeconomic status to general health
status, with lower socioeconomic groups presenting with greater heatth issues (Marmot 1994).
The situation is put succinctly by Lundberg (1999), who stated:
·Conditions typical of many lowstatusjobs, such as time pressure, lack ofinfluence over
one's work, and conslant involvement in repetitive tasks of short duration are known 10
cause work stress or strain. •
To summarise the interaction of physical and non-physical factors in the development of work-
related MSDs, researchers developed a simple model, as illustrated in Figure 1 (Bongers et al
2002).
Features of good work organisation
According to Landsbergis (2003) the work organisational and psychosocial factors that have
been associated with lower injury rates are:
Empowerment of the workforce
Good relations between management and workers
• Autonomy
Efficiency
Delegation of control
Low stress
Low grievance rates
Encouragement of long-term commitment of the workforce
Cleaning jobs that permit flexibility in the selection of cleaning tasks and do not have strictly
proportioned work areas and time schedules have also been found to reduce physiological job
strain and reduce absenteeism (Hopsu &Louhevaara 1991.)
2.4.2 Job demands, job stress and job support
One of the most cited investigations into work organisation and psychosocial issues and upper
limb MSDs concluded that high job demands and high levels of job stress lead to an increased
incidence of MSDs (Bongers et al 1993). Other subsequent research found that after physical
demands were taken into account, psychosocial factors had an effect on these MSDs, and this
effect was believed to be completely independent of physical factors (Bemard 1997).
A systematic review into psychosocial risk factors and neck pain also identified that high job
demands, low social/co-worker support, poor job control, high and low skill discretion, and low
job satisfaction were associated with high levels of neck pain and disability (Ariens et aI2001).
Studies specifically with cleaners have highlighted the same association between the
psychosocial and work organisation factors and muscle tension in the neck and shoulder
(Toivanen et aI1993).
Figure 1: Interaelion between psychosocial load, physical load, and individual factors and symptoms and
signs of shoulder, arm, or wrist injury (Bongers et al 2002).
i
!  
Recent Australian studies have also examined the interaction of physical factors with non-
physical factors, specifically work-related stress (WERC 2003a). Work related stress was
found to be both a hazard for the development of musculoskeletal disorders and also the
outcome of exposure to other workplace hazards such as high physical demands. This stress
response in individuals includes physiological changes, behavioural changes and negative
feelings. Each of these factors, either singly or combined, can increase the risk of developing
upper limb MSDs.
Lack of support at work is another factor contributing to MSD, and good support has the
reverse affect. A study of cleaners and their support at work showed the significant and
positive impact that personnel support has on preventing or reducing absenteeism from MSDs
(Landstad, Vinberg et al 2001). The resutts were. particularly marked for cleaners with a
previous history of high absenteeism. The interventions found to improve the clinical
presentation of these cleaners with MSDs included: various occupational organisational
measures; changing the psychosocial working environment; developing the cleaners'
competencies at work; and individual rehabilitation programs (Landstad, Schuldt et aI2001).
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In studies where cleaning workers have been actively involved in negotiating their work rates
and other aspects of their work, this involvement has achieved a positive effect on the working
conditions and on the workers' heaith (Lee & Krause 2002; Carrivick et al 2002).
This research demonstrates that work demands, support and performance related issues are
much more important as workplace stressors than individual personality or non-work factors,
particularly in relation to 'manual handling' work (WERC 2003b).
2.4.3 Employment characteristics that impact on the risk of MSDs
Precarious employment
Certain work arrangements can also be risk factors for MSDs for workers in industries such as
cleaning and hospitality. Internationally and nationally, there is a move away from direct
employment to one of subcontracting. As an employment sector, micro, small and medium
sized businesses are growing, as large businesses are outsourcing and subcontracting their
cleaning work (Stromsvag 199B; Caple 2003; European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
2002; Benavides et al 2000). These industries are typified by providing 'precarious
employment' options for workers as the work is usually project or contract based, can be part
time, temporary, and flexible in nature.
An Australian study examined the interaction of these workforce and employment patterns,
investigating risks associated with precarious employment and the changes in job and work
conditions (WERC 2003a). The risks associated with these changes are summarized in Table
7. Cleaning contracts in NSW reportedly range from month-te-month arrangements to longer
contracts of 5 years or more. As such, many of these jobs would be considered 'precarious'
employment and associated with feelings of job uncertainty and/or insecurity when contracts
are due to expire or change hands.
Benavides at al (2000) investigated the associations of types of employment with health
outcomes in the European Union. They found that precarious employment was consistently
and positively associated with musculoskeletal symptoms and job dissatisfaction.
Table 7 - Employment and workforce characteristics influencing MSDs
Emerging issues Factors that influence MSDs
Precarious empJoyment
·
Economic and reward risk factors
- defined as the increasing
·
Work disorganisation risk fadars
numbers of temporaries, casuals,
·
Increased likelihood of regulatory failure
shift workers, self-employed and
mUniple job holders in Australia
Changes in job and work
·
Longer working hours
conditions
·
Risk exposure and dose (severity and duration of exposure)
·
Changing shiflwork patterns
·
Increasing workloads, work intensification, open-ended work
demands
·
Newtechnologies and changing tasks demands
Changes in the working
·
Ageing in the workforce
population
·
Femirnsing of the WOTkforce
·
Workers from non-English speaking backgrounds
·
Verv vouna Workers
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Small and medium-sized business and OHS
Research in Australia, the United Kingdom and in the European Union has examined the
ability of small and medium sized enterprises to manage their OHS obligations (Caple 2003;
Mayhew 2002; Vickers et al 2003; Benavides et al 2000). The findings of this research
highlight poor risk management strategies in the small and medium sized enterprises studied,
and higher than average injury rates. Mayhew (2002) listed the problems such as the
competitive nature of tenders, projects based on cost, and ignoring OHS as a way to keep
costs down. She also pointed out that smaller workplaces have physically fewer OHS
resources, and current regulations are designed for large workplaces and are typically
inappropriate for small workplaces.
Mayhew and Quinlan (2001) also highlighted the problem of reporting of OHS issues in small
and medium sized enterprises, whereby employees may not be aware of their rights to workers
compensation, and/or fearful of losing their jobs it they report problems. Additionally, some
small and medium sized enterprises or micro enterprises may not carry any workers
compensation cover, or have insufficient cover. If the worker is a sale trader or self-employed
and becomes injured, it is almost impossible to continue the business. As the workers
compensation system is the predominant method of determining workplace injuries and
diseases in Australia, the prevalence of workplace injury is most probably underestimated.
Vickers et al (2003), in their report for the Health and Safety Executive of the United Kingdom,
pointed to: 'poor management of risk [rather] than the absotute seriousness of the hazards
faced... • as the major problem for small businesses in relation to health and safety. These
researchers found that features contributing to poor OHS performance were limited resources,
low frequency of regulatory inspections, limited access of workers to representation, and a low
impact of adverse publicity for OHS infringements.
Union membership and effect on MSDs
A recent study from the United States or America compared the rate of upper limb MSDs in a
random sample of more than 4,000 workers (Morse et al 2003). The study found that injury
prevalence rates for workers at both the non-unionized and unionized worksites were
comparable, however workers at the unionized sites were almost 6 times more likely to file for
workers compensation than at non-unionized sites. This higher rate of filing for workers
compensation was found to reflect earlier reporting, reporting of less serious conditions and
workers with a better understanding of the work relatedness of their conditions. Non-reporting
was associated with workers who were ignorant of their entitlements and were fearful of losing
their job and/or of not gaining future employment.
The researchers concluded that being a member of a union had an important 'protective effect'
on workers for two key reasons. The first was that the union encouraged workers to report,
and early reporting and early intervention are key factors in minimising disability and costs
(economic and social) of MSDs. The researcher's further identified that assistance from the
union resulted in positive OHS outcomes.
2.5 Individual characteristics
2.5.1 Definition and explanation
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'Individual characteristics' refers to the differences between people. Factors that have been
as affecting the development of upper limb MSDs include:
• Physiological and anatomical differences (and past injuries/disease)
• Age and gender
• Skills and experience
Each of these factors is briefly described below.
2.5.2 Physiology & anatomy
An obvious, yet olten neglected factor is that all workers are different, and these differences
impact on work ability. This includes observable differences in height and weight, but also in
less obvious features such as microscopic or internal anatomical and physiological differences
in muscle fibres, discs, tendons, cartilage, nerves, cognitive areas etc that impact on a
worker's strength, stamina, flexibility and concentration (Chaffin & Andersson 1984; Grandjean
1988). These physiological and anatomical differences can make workers more or less
susceptible to different MSDs.
A study in orthopaedic clinics in the United Kingdom found that cleaners were also over-
represented in wrist and forearm MSDs. Further examination revealed that shorter workers
were at greater risk of MSDs than taller workers, and this was possibly related to the lack of
suitable equipment for shorter workers (English et aI1995).
As previously described in Section 2.3.1, a MSD results in changes to the anatomy and
physiology of workers, and these changes have a direct impact on factors such as endurance,
perceived exertion, and ability to relax the muscles, and are also indicative of future muscular
problems (Larsson, Bjork, Elert et al 2000; Larsson, Bjork, Hendriksson et al 2000).
2.5.3 Age & gender
Another factor influencing upper limb MSDs is age - an important consideration given
Australia's ageing workforce. In June 2002, people aged over 65 years represented 13% of
the population, while those under 15 years represented 20%. Projections suggest that by the
year 2051, these percentages will be reversed (ABS 2003). The ageing worker has a higher
'background level' presence of disease and pre-existing conditions such as osteoarthritis,
decreased cardiac capacity and lung function, which will impact on and with any newly
acquired musculoskeletal disorder.
According to recent research in Scandinavia, there is an age-related decline in the physical
capacity of workers (Savinainen et al 2004). There is also an increasing rate of MSDs as age
increase for both genders (de Zwart et aI1997). Eartier research from one study concluded
that a person at 60 years of age has about 60% of the physical capacity of a person at 20
years of age, and that generally the physical capacity of women is 70 to 80% of that of men of
the same age (Tuomi et al1991 cited in Toivanen et aI1993.) Researchers demonstrate that
the rate of age-related changes is likely to be accelerated by the effects of exposure to
physically demanding work and other risks (I/marinen & Louhevaara 1994; de Zwart et al
1997). The ability of the spinal discs to withstand spinal loading is also reduced with age (Mital
etaI1993).
FInal Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
The Australian workers compensation data bases (NOHSC 2002) show that injury frequency
increases with workers over 55 years, and duration of injury-related absences from work
increases with increasing age. Workers aged 15-24 had less than 60% of the incidence of
claims compared to the 55 years and over age group - and workers in this older age bracket
reported five times the incidence of claims as compared to the 15-24 year age bracket. The
incidence of disease claims increases with each age group, and this could be explained by
long latency periods and the increased accumulated exposure of older workers. This data is
consistent with data from the self-assessment survey (ABS 2003) where Australian adults rate
their health lower as they age (with less people rating their health as 'excellent' or 'very good'
as they age, with increasing ratings of 'fair' or 'poor').
Cognitive changes are also a feature of ageing. However a recent report outlines evidence
that shows that normal age-related cognitive changes are unlikely to affect work performance
adversely except when there are severe time constraints over which the worker has little
control (WERC 2003 b).
Nielsen (1992) specifically explored the issues of ageing in cleaners, noting that at the time the
sample of cleaners in Denmark (1166 cleaners) had an average age of 44, with almost 60%
aged 45 years of greater. The author warned that there would be problems for this ageing
workforce if the work environment and workload was "not made to fit the work ability of the
elderly employees". This study also noted no significant differences between the 'young' and
'elderly' cleaners with regards to complaints of the physical workloads - with high complaints
from both groups for work postures, heavy lifting, repetitive work, and high work pace. An
Italian study also found an increased prevalence of disorders in the elbow, wrist, hand and
cervical spine in ageing women cleaners (Vito et al 2000).
Several studies have also examined the impact of gender upon reporting of MSDs. For
example, Fredriksson et al (2000), in their longitudinal study of neck/shoulder disorders, found
a gender difference in causal workplace factors and MSDSs. Women's reporting of
neck/shoulder MSD increased with adverse psychosocial factors, while for men, the reporting
increased with greater physical demands and exposure to vibration. Treaster and Burr (2004)
conducted a literature review to examine differences between the sexes for upper limb MSDs.
They found that women had a significantly higher prevalence of upper limb MSDs compared to
men alter taking work risk factors into account. A study of almost 17,000 workers in 21
    groups also showed women had significantly higher complaints of pain in the
neck, shoulder, elbow and wrist than men, again after controlling for occupation and age (de
Zwart et al 2000).
In addition to MSDs, studies have identified higher disability rates and poorer general health in
female cleaners than in other groups (including other unskilled occupations), with high rates of
diseases of the circulatory system and heart disease (Sjogren et al 2003; Gamperiene et al
2003). The researchers hypothesized that factors contributin9 to this poor health may be
imbalances in job strain and effort-reward, anxiety and depression, air pollutants and smoking.
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3.
3.1
Final Report -Assessment otthe Repetitive Manual Tasks 0( Cleaners
Methods
Injury Data Review
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Oeaners
Given the wide range of factors identified as impacting on the development of upper limb
MSDs, it became apparent that the assessment must be suited to measure both the physical
worK load risks and the psychosociallworK organisational risks. Therefore, several tools were
selected to enable the risks to upper limb MSDs to be assessed thoroughly.
The aim of the first stage of the project was to explore the existing research into worK-related
MSDs in the cleaning industry within Australia and overseas. This was to ensure that the
project was properly focused and did not unnecessarily duplicate information. The first step
was to review and analyse industry specific injury data. The following sources of information
were reviewed:
National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, (2002), National WorKers'
Compensation Statistics Database
WOrKCover (2002), WorKers Compensation Statistics NSW 200012001
National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, (2003), Compendium of
WorKers' Compensation Statistics, Australia
WOrKCover NSW (2004), Knowledge management - Statistics Branch
3.3 Development of the Cleanens' Survey
The fundamental elements required in any measurement tools include:
• Validity - content, predictability and construct
Reliability - stable and repeatable results
Sensitivity - to discriminate between tasks or groups of tasks
Focus
Ease of field utilization
(Wilson & Coriell 1994)
3.2 Literature Review and Investigation of Assessment Tools
Each of these elements was taken into account in the selection of appropriate survey tools and
the development of the Cleaners' Survey. In summary, the cleaners' survey comprised 3
sections:
Following the injury data analysis, a comprehensive review of the most current evidence
regarding upper limb MSDs was undertaken to assist the cleaning industry to properly assess
and then manage the risk factors inherent in the industry. The literature review included:
1. Risk factors for the development of worK-related upper limb disorders
2. Tools that can be used to measure and assess the extent of these risk factors
3. Recommendations for a toolls suitable for assessing the risks in cleaning tasks in the
cleaning industry in NSW
The following sources of information were searched:
Medline, OSHROM, Proquest, Cinahl & Psychinfo. A range of key words was used
individually and in combination in the searches.
Internet search using keywords
Secondary sources (ie reference lists from pUblished articles) to locate further literature
To gain further information on the cleaning industry and associated manual handling issues the
following activities were also conducted:
Consuitation with peak bodies in the cleaning industry in Australia (eg the worKers'
union and industry bodies)
Consultation with national and state govemment authorities responsible for OHS
Consultation with professional association contacts in ergonomics and OHS
3.3.1 Generallnforrnation
Section one asked respondents to provide basic demographic information such as:
Age;
Self reported height and weight;
Number of years doing cleaning worK; and
Typical number of hours and days worKed per week.
Additional questions regarding other jobs and the number of hours worKed in these other jobs
were also inclUded.
3.3.2 Musculoskeletal Problems
The second section investigated pain and discomfort using the standard Nordic
Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (Kourinka et al 1987), which asks for details on reported
musculoskeletal problems over the last year. The Nordic Questionnaire has been used
extensively in other studies to investigate the prevalence of MSDs, including a large study of
cleaners conducted by the Robens Centre for Heaith Ergonomics (Woods et al 1ggg). This
therefore allowed comparisons against the findings from cleaners in the United Kingdom.
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
3.3.3 Work organisation and psychosocial issues
Section three of the survey contained questions on work organisational factors and the
perceptions of the workers about their jobs. Despite an extensive review of assessment tools
to measure work organisation and psychosocial risk factors and their impact on MSD, no one
tool was found to be suttable for this population or for the project time frames. A recent review
undertaken for' NOHSC .reported that there was not one properly tested and validated
assessment tool (WERC 2003b), however they recommended a few that appeared to be
relevant to Australia. Some of the tools proposed by the Work Environment Research Centre
fY'JERC 2003b) and other tools reviewed for this study included:
Job Diagnostic Survey (Hackman & Oldham 1975)
Work Environment Scale (Moos 1994)
Job Content Questionnaire (Karasek et al1 9B5 & 199B)
Effort-Reward Imbalance (Siegrist et al 2004)
WEBA instrument (Vaas et al1 995)
VBBA self-report questionnaire (Van Veldhoven 1997)
Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (Kristensen 2001)
Questions from the General Health Survey (SF-36) were also considered fY'Jare et al
1992).
However after reviewing these tools, the follOWing Iimttations became evident:
Lack of validity for this population (ie cleaners/room attendants)
Not being available in English, or nonns for this population not being available
Limtted reliability data
Requirement for high level English reading or Itteracy skills
Long duration of survey tool (45 minutes to one hour to conduct one survey)
New and emerging issues were not covered (ie changing employment patterns,
workforce ageing, gender issues, minortty groups and language issues as were also
noted by Hurrell et al in 199B).
Taking into consideration the above Iimttations, the key issues identified from the literature,
data from pilot testing and advice from the Steering Committee, a tool was developed that
would suit the popUlation and the aims of the study. The issues that were considered most
crttical to the study included:
Job demands and work rates
Job control and involvement with decisions at work
Job satisfaction and meaning of work
Social support, qualtty of leadership, and feedback from supervisors
Social support from colleagues.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Questions from the published survey tools were then used for the basis of the questions,
particularly, the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (Kristensen 2001), the Job
Diagnostic Survey (Hackman & Oldham 1975), and the general health question from SF-36
fY'Jare et al 1992), questions from the Roben's report fY'Joods et al 1999) and from a past
Australian study (Gaudry 199B). This allowed comparisons to be able to be made between the
different cleaning populations. The final survey used the questions in Table Bto cover the key
issues of interest, and these were read out and shown to workers and they then selected their
responses.
Table 8. Survey methods -work organisation and psychosocial issues
Issues of Methods used to gather information
interest
Job demands Survey question to workers doing cleaning:
and work rates
·
Do you have to work very fast?
·
Do you have to work very hard? (ie is it physically demanding)
·
Do you have enough time to do everything?
·
Can others help you if you don't have enough time?
·
Response options: Often, sometimes, never
What are the most difficult tasks for you, and WHY?
Observation:
·
of workers doing cleaning
Interview:
·
of workers doing cleaning- Open questions regarding typical tasks
performed in each shift, estimated duration of each task, task order and
comments regarding fatigue or exertion
·
of supervisors or managers- Open questions regarding typical tasks
performed in each shift, estimated duration of each task, task order, and
methods used to determine work rates
Record review:
·
Of job descriptions and task lists
Body map survey
·
Fatigue and discomfort were also assessed through the Nordic
Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (as described in Section ... ) as these are
also indicators used to measure task demands
Job control and Survey question to workers doing cleaning:
influence
·
Can you influence the amount of work you are given?
·
Do you have any influence on HOW you do your work?
(equiplorderlmelhod)
·
Do you have any influence on WHAT you do at work? (tasks)
·
Can you decide when to take a break?
·
Response options: Often, sometimes, never
Job satisfaction Survey question to workers doing cleaning:
and job meaning
·
Do you feel that the work you do is important or significant?
·
Response options: Often, sometimes, never
How do you feel about your job as a whole, taking everything into consideration?
ResDonse oDtions:
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filal Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Repoft - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks Of Cleaners
3.5 Physical Risk Assessment Tools
areas; security issues; other relevant OHS issues; and main population/user groups at the
premises.
They require tools ranging from the expensive and highly technical equipment down to simple
paper techniques.
After an extensive review of the literature, a number of risk assessment tools were identified
and reviewed to determine the best available tool that met the criteria of the study. The tools
reviewed included:
32
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ManTRA Manual Tasks Risk Assessment Tool (Burgess-Limerick et a12004)
Quick Exposure Check (Li & Buckle 1999)
Revised NIOSH Equation (Waters et a11993)
OWAS Ovako Working Posture Analysis System (Karihu et al 1997)
RULA Rapid Upper limb Assessment (McAtamney & Corlett 1993)
REBA Rapid Entire Body Assessment (Hignett & McAtamney 2000)
OeRA (Occhipinti 1998)
The Strain Index (Moore & Garg 1995)
A posture and load sampling approach to detenmining low back pain risk (Neumann at
a12001)
• An observation method to assess physical loads imposed on the upper extremities
(Ketola et al 2001)
Various methods have been developed to track postures and measure postural loads in order
to assess potential risk factors for MSDs in industry. The methods can be divided into:
(1) direct measurements;
(2) observational methods; and
(3) self report techniques (Kilborn 1994; Li &Buckle 1999).
The Cleaners' Survey as well as the Work Environment and Worksite Equipment Surveys were
pilot tested by all three researchers with three cleaners at a tertiary institution. Modifications
were then made to the questionnaires and surveys to enhance usability in the field and
improve question design.
The Equipment Survey included information on the type of equipment used for each task;
description of equipment; size/capacity; heightllength; weight; brand name; serial number;
approximate age of equipment; condition of equipment; and comments from workers about the
ease of use and effectiveness of the equipment.
Each of these tools was carefully assessed to determine their suitability for field use, for the
tasks and the population. Many analysis tools were considered but then rejected for a number
of reasons. For example, the Borg Scale (1998) was reviewed as it is used to measure
perceived exertion and provide a SUbjective jUdgment about an activity and its effect on the
body as a whole. However, during pilot testing it became apparent that it was not feasible to
use the Borg Scale for data collection due to the noise from cleaning equipment (eg vacuum
It is recognised that responses in self-administered questionnaires can be misleading due to
the influence of the psychological disposition and perceptions of the respondent (Rugulies et al
2004). However as another research group point out, self-reporting (via interviews or surveys)
remains an important and necessary method for examining and measuring the constructs
related to work organisation and psychosocial factors (Hurrell et al1998). Additional data from
observation, records, shift hours, and supervisor/manager interviews were used to assist in
triangulating and strengthening the data from self-reports.
3.4 Work Environment & Worksite Equipment Survey Tools
Vgood Good OK Bad V bad
V happy Happy Unhappy V unhappy
V SaUsfied Dissatisfied V
satisfied dissatisfied
@ © ® ®
Discussions with workers doing cleaning:
·
Infonnal discussions as they worked
Support at wort<, Survey que'stion to workers doing deaning:
leadership, and
How do you feel abouL..
feedback
·
The help and support given to you by supervisors? (eg if you get into
difficulties)
·
The help and support given to you by work mates? (eg if you get into
difficulties)
·
The recognltionlfeedback you receive from your supervisor about how
well you are doing your job?
·
The recognition/feedback you receive from other people at the site you
dean about howwell you are doing your job? (e9 teaching staff,
customers, hotel guests)
Response options:
Vgood Good OK Bad V bad
V happy Happy Unhappy V unhappy
V Satisfied Dissatisfied V
satisfied dissatisfied
@ © - ® ®
Discussions with workers doing cleaning:
·
Informal discussions as they worked
The Work Environment Survey included an assessment of: cleaning rooms; access to sinks;
layout and design of premises; description of typical rooms; furnishings and fixtures; furniture
to be moved; type and condition of flooring; main sources of waste/dirt; windows and
coverings; lighting; steps and stairs; ventilation; temperature; access to skip bins; outdoor
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A Work Environment Survey and a Worksite Equipment Survey were developed to assist in
gathering data at the worksites. These assessment tools were based on The National
Standard and National Code of Practice for Manual Handling (NOHSC 1g90), the National
Code of Practice for the Prevention of Occupational Overuse Syndrome (NOHSC 1994) and
relevant literature.
Final Report -Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
cleaners), literacy levels, the need to continually interrupt the workers' work flow, and the
disruption to the workers' concentration.
After preliminary pilot testing, two risk assessment tools were finally selected as being suitable
to assess the risk factors for work-related upper limb MSDs in cleaning tasks. The tools were
the Manual Tasks Risk Assessment Tool (ManTRA) version 2.0 (Burgess-Limerick et al 2004)
and the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment Tool (RULA - by McAtamney & Corlett 1993). Both
are observational methods for studying musculoskeletal load. Observational methods such as
ManTRA and RULA offer a compromise between the high cost of direct methods (where
devices are attached to the body) and the low validity and subjectivity of self reported
techniques (Kilbom 1994). The methods selected are non invasive, simple measurement
approaches which were able to be applied without interference while workers' performed their
regular duties. These tools also require the researcher's judgment to identify the various body
postures. Videotaping the workers while performing their normal duties also allowed a more
detailed analysis to be conducted, thus reducing observation errors.
ManTRA was specifically selected, as it is able to measure the key risk factors highlighted for
work-related MSDs, that is, repetition, force, posture, and vibration (Bemard 1997). ManTRA
was developed as a tool to use 'in the field' and was initially designed to be used by workplace
health and safety Inspectors in Queensland when assessing the ergonomics of work tasks.
The physical risk component combines information about the total time for which a person
performs the task in a typical day (exposure) and the typical time for which the task is
•performed without a break (duration) with an assessment for each of four body regions, of five
characteristics of the task (cycle time, force, speed, awkwardness and vibration). The
assessment of each characteristic is for the task as a whole, rather than individual task
elements.
RULA is also an observational method that assesses the postures of the neck, trunk and upper
limbs along with muscle function and the external loads experienced by the body (McAtamney
& Corlett 1993). RULA evaluates ergonomic stress exposure by using body posture diagrams
and scoring tables to specify posture zones. The posture limit gUidelines and risk scores are
based on the combined findings of several ergonomic studies (McAtamney & Corlett 1993). A
coding system is used to generate a risk score which indicates the level of intervention
required to reduce the risks of injury due to physical loading on the worker. As opposed to
ManTRA, RULA scoring is performed at a discrete point in time, and selection is based either
on the posture held for the greatest amount of the work cycle or where the highest loads occur.
3.6 Site Selection and Sample Size
The criteria for site selection nominated by the consultants included:
Located in the Illawarra and Sydney Metropolitan regions;
Site management's willingness to allow the researchers to conduct data collection on
their site (eg School Principal, building owner, operations manager etc);
Two or more people doing cleaning work employed at the site, to allow maximum
efficiencies in data collection and minimum disruption to the worksite; and
Cleaning workers with good verbal English skills.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Steering Committee, the BSCM, Clubs NSW, and the Hotel, Motel and Accommodation
Association.
The project's aims, objectives and methodology were briefly explained to the company
representatives and a one page summary of the project was sent to the company. Of the
companies contacted, 4 large cleaning companies and 6 commercial recreational and/or
commercial residential businesses agreed to participate.
The specific sites within Sydney and the lIIawarra regions were identified and selected by the
cleaning companies and commercial recreational/residential businesses. Therefore, sites for
data collection were not chosen randomly. Although it is acknowledged that this method of site
selection may be biased, it is a limitation imposed due to the voluntary nature of the project,
and the time constraints.
A total of 23 work sites were visited in the study. Sixty-six interviews were conducted with
cleaning workers and 47 cleaning workers were filmed while performing their normal work
duties. Table g provides a breakdown of the number of sites visited and workers interviewed
and videotaped.
Table 9- Summary of siles and workers
Location No. of sites visited No. of workers No. of workers
interviewed filmed
Schools 11 32 22
Commercial Office 6 14 13
Commercial residential andlor 6 20 12
commercial recreational
Total 23 66 47
3.7 Data Collection
At each of the selected worksites each worker was informed of the purpose of the study and
verbal consent was obtained to interview them. Consent was also obtained from the workers
to videotape them performing their usual duties. If consent was granted, the participant was
interviewed using the Cleaners' Survey (see Appendix) to gather relevant information. If the
workers gave permission to be videotaped they were asked to perform their normal work tasks
for that shift. The tasks observed and filmed included:
Wet mopping
Static mopping
Vacuuming
Polishing/Buffing
Detailing - damp wiping and dusting
Emptying rubbish bins
Cleaning toilets
Except for toilet cleaning, these tasks were selected by the Cleaning Steering Committee and
are common cleaning tasks performed across all sectors that involve repetitive use of the
Initial contact was made with 5 large cleaning businesses (ie more than 100 cleaning
employees) and 15 commercial recreational and/or commercial residential businesses in NSW.
Assistance with contacting these businesses and gaining agreement was obtained from the
©WOfkCover NSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee 33
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final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks ri Cleaners
upper limb. Toilet cleaning was added due to it being another of the most common tasks and
due to the reported and apparent difficulty with this task.
Each worker was videotaped for the duration of the tasks, using a hand held Sony digital video
camera, while they perfonmed their normal cleaning duties and adhered to their nonmal
methods of work. The filming angle was selected to give the best full and clear view of the
subject's whole body, unobstructed by furntture and equipment. Filming took place from the
start of the task to completion of the task (eg vacuuming a complete classroom, or hotel room).
Infonmation was gathered from the worker regarding the tasks perfonmed and the amount of
time taken to perform these tasks. This infonmation was used later in determining the duration
and total time components "for the ManTRA assessment. Because of the differences between
the sttes, some tasks regularly perfonmed at one site may not have been observed at other
sites. For example, cleaners in commercial office environments were rarely seen bUffing floors
during the time of the sile visils.
Observations of the workplace and work practices were also conducted at each worksite using
the Work Environment and Equipment Survey Tools. The survey tools were used by the
researchers to collect infonmation on work environment factors, types of equipment used and
the workplace layou\. Dimensions of equipment and fixtures were collected during this stage
of the process where possible. Workplaces and tasks were generally observed over 3 to 4
~ u   s under nonmal operating conditions.
There were a number of Iimilations with data collection at some sites. At a number of sites,
observation and videotaping of the cleaning staff was not able to be perfonmed for the full shift
due to constraints such as security and access issues. This was particularly true for
commercial office sites. Another issue during data collection that caused problems was that
the occupiers of some of the commercial sites generally (ie office, residential and recreational)
were very sensitive to the researchers' presence - particularly regarding filming. It was
therefore extremely difficutt to obtain good video footage at these siles and videotaping that
was able to be perfonmed was quile limited.
Other issues that may have impacted on data collection, particularly during the interviews with
workers, were that at some sites the cleaning supervisors needed to escort the researchers
between areas due to security and access issues. This resutted in some cases where the
supervisor was nearby when the worker was interviewed which may have affected the worker's
answers to some questions. Whilst every effort was made to minimize this problem it was not
always possible. Another Iimiling factor that the researchers were extremely aware of and
sensitive to, was time constraints for extended interviews and discussion, conscious that the
workers still had their jobs to do. Poor literacy of some workers was another issue which
meant that not all Cleaner Surveys were completed fully.
3.8 Measurement of Weight and Forces
A sample of weights, and pushing and pulling forces were measured using a Satter Model 16
tension and compression tester. Forces were also gathered from past, recent research (Paver
et al1997) and from equipment companys' technical specifications data.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaner.;
Two surveys were developed for employers of cleaning workers. Companies were assured
that the data would be pooled, with no identifiers used, and the resutts would remain
confidential. Employers were asked to forward the surveys to those best able to complete
them, and this was assumed to be a combination of OHS Managers, Return to Work/Injury
Management personnel and Human Resource personnel.
The first survey requested infonmation on the demographics of the cleaning workers, including
age, gender, ethnic backgrounds, estimated literacy levels (in reading and conversational
skills), and training provided to cleaning workers and completed by existing cleaning workers.
The second survey was designed to explore the rationale and methods used to select cleaning
equipment, including:
criteria for selecting equipment
method of assessment
personnel involved in the assessment
personnel involved in the purchase decision
schedules for maintenance and replacement
This survey also asked semi-structured and open-ended questions about what the companies
found were the best sort of equipment for the common cleaning tasks, and if they could
recommend any specific techniques or work methods, and if they had advice about duration on
tasks.
Surveys were distributed via email to 7 companies following inilial phone contact to explain the
surveys and their rationale and to personally seek the companies' input. The sample included
4 large cleaning companies and 3 large employers in the commercial residential and
recreational sectors.
3.10 Data Analysis
3.10.1 Physical Risk Assessment (Mantra, RULAj
Data for the physical risk assessments was collected from 23 worksiles and video footage was
collected from 47 workers perfonming their nonmal work tasks during one shift. To analyse and
quantify the musculoskeletal demands of the selected cleaning tasks, the manual task risk
assessment tool (ManTRA) and the rapid upper limb assessment (RULA) tools were used. All
the ManTRA and RULA analysis was carried out from the videotapes, by one trained
researcher to avoid possible inter-observer variability.
ManTRA Analysis
ManTRA provides a risk rating for exposure to musculoskeletal risk factors for different body
regions associated with manual tasks in the workplace. The video footage of each cleaning
task was ranked using ManTRA together with details of each task gathered from interviews (ie
total time, task duration).
3.9 Employer survey The scores for cycle time and duration were combined to provide a repetilion risk score. Force
and speed were also combined to provide an exertion risk. Each body region was then scored
and a cumulative risk score was allocated by adding together the scores for duration,
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
repetition, exertion, awkwardness and Vibration. This cumulative risk score provides a range
between 5 and 25. A high risk of cumulative injury is indicated by the presence of muttiple risk
factors for a particular body region by calculating the sum of the five risk factors (ie total time,
repetition, exertion, awkwardness and vibration).
4.
4.1
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Results & Discussion
Injury data analysis
Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) Analysis
RULA is based on defini,tions for postures of the back, arms, legs, head and neck and the force
used in the work. RUUlI <;ombines body posture diagrams and scoring tables to calculate a risk
score of between 1 and 7 which is based upon the estimated risk 6f injury due to
musculoskeletal loading. The same tasks from the ManTRA analysis were analysed using
RULA. Selection of the postures to analyse was based on an innial observation of the selected
tasks during several work cycles. The postures held for the greatest amount of the work cycle
were first identified and then the posture was analysed where It was thought the highest loads
occurred.
Analysis of Repetitive Upper Limb Work
Video recordings were analysed and sampling was conducted at variable intervals. The cycle
times for the upper limb movements of the shoulder, elbow and wrist were determined.
Comparison with the work from Kilborn (1994) was also used to determine the risk of upper
limb MSD for workers performing the common cleaning tasks.
3.10.2 Analysis of Work Environment and Equipment
Following the site visits, the data from the Environment and Equipment Surveys were
analysed. To assist in identifying the differences between the sectors and potential problems
areas for MSD risk, each of the common factors was compared using a matrix format.
To clarify and to check information regarding equipment observed on snes, contact was made
wnh twelve cleaning equipment suppliers, and technical specifications were obtained. Visits
were also made to showrooms to assess equipment more closely. These methods assisted in
triangulating, or verifying the information obtained at the snes and as reported by workers. For
example by using equipment model numbers and serial numbers obtained at the visns,
suppliers were able to determine the approximate age of equipment that had been reported by
workers to be 'very old".
3.11 Statistical Analysis
Simple statistics were used to describe the cleaning population, pain and discomfort, work
organisational factors and physical risk assessment. Kruskal Wallis tests and one way
between groups Annova were conducted to investigate whether significant differences exist
between the three cleaning sectors (ie government contract, commercial office, commercial
recreational and commercial residential). Differences were considered statistically significant
at the 0.05 level. All statistical procedures were conducted using SPSS Software (Version
11.0).
The analysis of the claims data for the cleaning industry illustrated that:
Cleaners are at high risk of sustaining workplace injuries and diseases - with one of
the highest rates as compared with other occupations, and double the frequency rate of
the average of all occupations
• Cleaners have a high rate of injury/disease from body stressing as compared with other
occupations - and more than double the frequency of the average of all occupations
• The most common mechanism of injury for cleaners is 'body stressing', accounting for
45% of all claims in the past 10 years of available WorkCover NSW data
• The most common body location for body stressing in cleaners in NSW is the back
• The next most common body locations for body stressing in cleaners in NSW are the
shoulder/upper arm, wrist/hand and fingers, and the elbow and forearm
• The low injury and disease rates reported for the Property and Business Services
Industry can be misleading, and the data can disguise the actual risk to people
employed wnhin the Cleaning Services group of this industry
(NOHSC 2003; NOHSC 2002; WorkCover 2004; WorkCover 2002b)
A complete copy of the report regarding MSDs in cleaning work and in the cleaning industry
was provided to the Steering Committee as part of this project (Weigall, Simpson & Bell 2004).
The injury claims experience in government sector cleaners was higher than other cleaners in
other areas as is reflected in the higher workers compensation insurance premium rates. The
higher rates could be due to a number of quite different factors including:
• the work environments
• the cleaning equipment
• the result of their longer duration doing cleaning work
• their greater age, and
• other individual factors
Injury statistics must be always be viewed cautiously as they may not be a true indication of
injury rates. For example workers who were interviewed in this study had in many cases not
disclosed their MSDs. Also, given that non-unionized workers are less likely to report injuries
(Morse et al 2003), higher reported injury rates in the government sector cleaners may merely
reflect higher rates of union membership.
4.2 Demographic Data
4.2.1 Workers' age and number of years cleaning
The responses from interviews with 66 people doing cleaning work were analysed. Of this
group 69.7% were female and 30.3% were male, with an average age of 46.7 ±11.7 years and
a median age of 49 years. The average number of years they had worked as either a cleaner
or doing cleaning work was 10.7 ±8.4 years, with a range from less than 1 year to 34 years.
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Final Report - Assessment ofthe Repetitive ManUal Tasks of Cleaners
The demographic data comparing the sectors are provided in Table 10. For simplicity, all of
these people employed to do various cleaning tasks (school cleaners, room attendants etc) will
be called 'workers' in this report.
Table 10- Demographic data for workers doing cleaning tasks
Mean (SD)
Government Comrnercial Commercial
Contract Office Residential &
Recreational
Age 53.5 (8.0) 37.7 (11.6) 43.6 10.1
Years worked as a cleaner 12.6 7.2 4.8 6.7 11.9 9.6
Heiaht m 1.3 .65 1.6 .39 1.6 .08
Weight kg) 77.4 13.4 67.7 13.9 64.5 11.2
Body Mass Index ka/m 28.5 5.1 23.9 5.2 24.9 3.4
Demographic data from the three completed employer surveys were consistent with these
findings with regards to the age and gender information, suggesting that our sample was
representative of the sectors of interest.
Statistical analysis using a one way between groups Annova was conducted to compare the
workers' ages and number of years doing cleaning work between the three sectors. The
govemment cleaners' ages were significantly higher [F(1,63)=36.65, p<0.001] than those
working in the other sectors. No significant differences were found between the sectors for the
number of years doing cleaning work [F(1 ,62)=4.52, p=0.38].
The age data shows that the median age of the workers surveyed (49 years) is well above the
median age of Australian Public Service Employees at41 years (WERC 2003a). The average
age of government contract cleaners is the highest across the sectors, at 53.5 years. These
figures are a reflection of Australia's ageing workforce. The other important factor is that the
participation of females in the workforce is increasing, but particularly in the 45-64 age group,
almost dOUbling since the mid 1980s (ABS 2003). In contrast, male participation in the
workforce has fallen. This trend of an ageing and feminised workforce is expected to continue
(WERC 2003a).
4.2.2 Weight and height
The workers were asked to self report their height and weight so that their Body Mass Index
(BMI) could be calculated (NHMRC 1997). While ft is acknowledged that people are likely to
inaccurately report their height and weight, this data provides an overview of the body size and
proportion of the population of workers that were interviewed. Interestingly 38% of the workers
interviewed would be classified as overweight, while 20% would be classified as obese
according to the current guidelines (ASSO 2004). The average government cleaner was
classified as 'overweight'.
The prevalence of people being overweight or obese is increasing (NHMRC 1997). Our
findings are consistent with a study of Australian adults in 1999 - 2000 which found that 39%
were overweight and 20.8% were obese (ASSO 2004).
4.2.3 language spoken
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
The workers were also asked what language they mainly spoke at home. The proportion of
workers who mainly spoke English at home to those who mainly spoke another language is
shown in Figure 2 and the variety of languages spoken at home is summarised in Table 11.
Almost 70% of workers mainly spoke a language other than English at home.
Figure 2 - Proportion of languages spoken at home - Non-English VS English
Table 11 - Reported languages spoken at home
Language Number Percentage
Arabic 1 1.5
Benaali 5 7.5
Cantonese 1 1.5
Croatian 3 4.5
En !ish 20 30.3
Greek 7 10.6
Italian 1 1.5
Korean 1 1.5
Macedonia" 6 9.1
Mandarin 2 3
Neoali 1 1.5
Filipino 2 3
Pol nesian 1 1.5
Portuauese 1 1.5
Serbian 2 3
Soanish 8 12.1
Thai 2 3
Vietnamese 1 1.5
65 100
These language results suggest that the majorfty of these workers are from non-English
speaking backgrounds (NESB). In 2001-02, 24.6% of the Australian workforce was born
overseas, so the survey group represent a higher than average rate of coming from an NESB.
The impact of being a migrant in Australia wfth a NESB is higher rates of unemployment.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2003) 8.1 % of migrants from NESB are
unemployed as compared with only 5.5% of English speaking migrants.
4.2.4 Work Hours
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks or Cleaners
The respondents reported that the average number of hours worked in their main cleaning job
was 5.9 + 1.7 hours per day, and 30 hours per week. One commercial office worker reported
working atotal of 55 hours per week, including some 11 hour days. Of those surveyed, just
over 50% worked the hours in 'split' shifts, including most of the government cleaners, while
none of the commercial recreational or commercial residential workers did.
Of the sample, 23% had at least one other paid job, and this was most typical for commercial
office workers, wilh 50% having another job, as compared with 18% of government contract
cleaners. Those wilh another job reported working an average of 26 hours per week in this
other job, and this ranged from'6 hours per week to 45 hours per week, with the highest
median number of hours worked by commercial office cleaners (40 hours per week). The most
common 'other job' was working as a cleaner (47% of all other jobs). Other occupations
included room attendant, kitchen hand, waitress, bar worker, factory worker, storeman and
child care worker. Each of these additional jobs is physical in nature and is also at the lower
end of the pay scale (ABS 2002).
As well as paid work, many workers repolted having unpaid childcare responsibilities, and
many commercial office cleaners were full-time students during the day.
4.3 Pain and Discomfort
Workers were also asked about their musculoskeletal   and a questionnaire was used to
determine if they had past and/or current episodes of 'trouble' (defined as an ache, pain or
discomfort) in their neck, arms, hands, back, and legs. The questions asked if they had
experienced trouble at any time in the past 12 months, and at any time in the past 7 days, and
if this trouble had prevented them from doing their normal work at home or at work.
Of the workers interviewed:
83% reported experiencing pain or discomfort during the last 12 months
66% reported experiencing pain or discomfort in the last 7 days
the highest 12-month prevalence rates for musculoskeletal pain and discomfort were in
the lower back (48.5%), wrist/hands (40.9%), and shoulders (39.4%)
the lower back (15.2%) was the highest ranked body part for preventing normal work in
the last 12 months.
4.2.5 General Health The occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints experienced by workers over the last 12
months is shown in Table 13.
The workers were asked about their general health in the survey and the responses are
summarised in Table 12.
Table 13 - Musculoskeletal Health of Cleaners
Percentage Yt'ith
paJn&
discomfort last
7 days
Percentage
Prevented
doing nomlal
worn in last 12
months
Percentage
with pain &
discomfort last
12 months
Body Part
Neck 34.8 10.6 10.6
Shouldeftl 38.4 10.6 13.6
Elbows .25.8 10.6 10.6
WristslHands 40.9 10.6 19.7
Upper back 21.2 6.1 •. 1
Lower back 48.5 15..2 21.2
Hips/thighs 21.2 3.0 13.6
Knees 31.8 7.' 18.2
AnklesJfeet 28.8 6.1 13.6

Table 12 -In general, how is your health? - Responses from workers
Statistical analysis using a Kruskal Wallis test showed no significant differences (X 2 = 0.471, P
=.72) between the three sectors and self reported health status of Cleaners.
Comparison with all people in the general population shows that these cleaning workers report
being relatively healthy, with none repolting poor health and only 5.3% repolting fair health.
This result is expected as the general population includes very old people and those with
disabilities and who are not in the workforce, and cleaning work is classified as physically
demanding work (Occupational Information Network 2004). As with the general population,
the majority of respondents report being in very good or excellent health (54.4% of workers
surveyed in this study compared with 51.7% of all persons) (ABS 2003).
Cleaner ReSDonse Excellent VerY Good Good Fair Poor
(Number of responses) (13) (18) (23) (3)
I Frenuen"" % 22.8% 31.6% 40.4% 5.3% 0
Comparison with ASS
I
18.9% 32.8% 30.2% 18.1%
In discussions at the worksites, the following additional comments were made by workers
regarding their pain:
"I take tablets to cope with the pain" (Cleaner, Primary
"I have constant pain" (C/eaner, Primary School)
""you have something to do youjust press on.....(despite the pain). (Cleaner, Pnmary
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Final Report: - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
7roub/fl is if you're sick, they otten don't rep/ace you" (Cleaner, Primary School)
like needles" (Cleaner, High School)
rub metho all over my bOOy and into myJoints to keep me fft" rOeaner, High School)
Comparison of Musculoskeletal Symptoms with other Cleaning Workers
A comparison of the prevalence of pain and discomfort in this study with the Robens Centre for
Heatth Ergonomics (Woods et al 1999) cleaning study proVides some Interesting similarities.
This Robens Centre study surveyed 1214 cleaners using a questionnaire posted to cleaners
working in a variety of settings, with most of the respondents working in hospitals and schools.
II can be seen from Table 14 that higher levels of musculoskeletal pain and discomfort were
reported in the upper back, knees and ankles in this study than in the Robens Centre study.
Annual prevalence of pain and discomfort for all other body parts was similar between both
groups.
Table 14 - Annual Prevalence of MUSCUloskeletal Symptoms among Cleaners
ThlsStudu Robens Studv 1999
Number of workers 66 1214
Neck 35% 33%
Shoulders 38% 42%
Elbows 26% 22%
Wrlstslhamls 41% 39%
lJDPef'back 21% 14%
Lower back 49% 46%
flIiis 21% 1
Kn..s 32% 24%
Ankles 29% 18%
4,4 Work Organisation
The third part of the Cleaners' Survey addressed issues of work organisation. The workers
Were asked 10 rate their responses on a 3 point scale (often, sometimes, never) or a 5 paint
scale (from very happy to very unhappy) to questions concerning job demand and work rates,
job control and influence, job satisfaction and job meaning, support at work, leadership and
feedback.
4.4.1 Job Demands and Work Rates
The workers were asked about how hard they had 10 work, if they had enough time to
complete their work, and if they were able to get assistance from others if under pressure. The
responses to these questions are shawn in Figure 3.
The responses from the workers indicated that:
53% of the workers often had to work very fast
• 40.9% reported having to often work intensively
final Report - Assessmenl: otthe RepetitilJe Manual Tasks of Cleaners
53% reported only sometimes having enough time to complete their work
50% reported never being able to get help from others if under pressure to get their
work done.
Figure 3 - Work organisation - survey responses
The responses from the interviews across the 3 sectors varied. Workers at government sites
were often alone on the site or with just one other worker, so if the tasks were too demanding
the ability to call on others for help was not always possible. At commercial office sites
workers were generally on separate floors and not easy to contact or locate. On the contrary
room attendants in the larger hotels reported having systems for phoning the manager if they
fell behind schedule (eg because of a particularty dirty room or a series of slaW/late check
outs) and there was mare flexibility in the scheduling.
Demands within sectors also varied. For example at same schools one cleaner was
responsible for cleaning all the toilets, and this was reportedly due to the fixed extra payment
received for this task (if twa cleaners shared the toilet cleaning each would have to receive the
full extra payment). This resulted in situations where one cleaner may clean in excess of 50
toilets in one shift. In the commercial office and commercial recreational sites visited it was a
common work practice for one or two cleaners to be allocated to cleaning toilets. In several
sites cleaners were responsible for cleaning more than 100 toilets per shift. This resutted in
little or no opportunity to change work tasks.
Comments from workers regarding work rates included:
'Too muchjob!" explaining about having to work quickly (Cleaner, High School)
'" start early to get my work dons" Cleaner reporting starting one hour early each day (Cleaner, High School)
no time for break - supposed to have 10minutes" (Cleaner, High School)
  have dropped a /ot, so mom hard for me." (Cleaner, High School)
feel frustrated when there's not enough time." (Cleaner, High School)
Comparison of Job Demands and Job Control with other Workers
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Figure 4- Work organisation - survey responses from Robens Centre Study (1999)
The cleaning study conducted by the Robens Centre (Woods et al 1999) asked the same
questions as this study in relation to job demands and work rates. As can be seen from
Figures 3 and 4, more cleaners in this study reported having to work very fast compared to the
Robens study (53% compared with 46%). Additionally, more cleaners in this study reported
never being able to obtain help if they did not have enou9h time compared to the cleaners in
the Robens study (50% compared with 35%). Interestingly in both studies approximately 50%
of cleaners reported only sometimes having enough time to do everything and 20 - 25%
reported never having enough time.
Most difficultlasks
In response to the question "What are the most difficult tasks for you, and why?" there was a
spread of responses within and between the sectors. The only common point between the
sectors was comments regarding the time being limited and that this factor affected all tasks.
Specific tasks identified as being "difficult" by workers is summarised in Table 15.
Table 15 - Tasks identified as being "most difficult" by workers
Government sector Commercial office sector Commercial residential &
recreational
·
Scrubbing tables and desks
·
Emptying the waste bins -
·
Bedmaking - as low height
- as marks hard to remove as it's very repetitive and repetitive
and very repetitive task
·
Emptying heavy waste bins
·
Cleaning the bath - as long
·
Cleaning hard floors -large - as loads can be very reaching and bending
areas to clean and heavy (eg on Friday nighls
·
Cleaning bathroom - as
particularly hard in wet some are full of empty awkward postures and
periods with tracked mud bottles, and paper can also reaching
·
Doing the 'big clean up' - as be very heavy)
·
Cleaning toilets - as often
need to move furniture and
·
Dusting and detailing - as vel)' dirty
do high cleaning large areas and very
·
Cleaning large mirrors - as
·
Cleaning out 150 bins per repetitive hard to reach to the top with
day as heavy. and repetitive
·
Vacuuming - as long your-hand
·
Using the blower vac - as duration and very repetitive
·
Vacuuming - as very
heavy and awkWard repetitive
·
Taking rubbish in the traHey
to the - as trotley is
heavy and hard to use
·
Having 10 help the older
ladies (ie older cleaners) -
as it's heaw and also adds
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
to my work
·
Fear of being assaulted
again (ie in the school
grounds)
·
Cleaning portables - as
need to move equipment in
and out
·
Wet mopping and floor
polishing - as large areas to
clean
·
Cleaning up chalk dust -
hard to clean and it dogs up
your throat
·
Oeaning windows - as high
and hard on the neck,
shoulders, arms and back
·
Sweeping with handbroom
- as tiring and repetitive
·
Maintaining the outdoor
area - as large area and
leaves make it look messy
·
Nothing (7 responses) Nothing ( 3 responses) Nothing (1 response)
4.4.2 Job Control and Innuence
As illustrated in Figure 5, of the workers interviewed, 49%   they had some influence over
'how' they did their work and to some extent when they were able to take rest breaks. While
57% of the cleaners interviewed indicated that they never have any influence over the amount
of work they were expected to complete, 56% also reported never haVing any influence of
'what' they did.
Figure 5 - Job control and influence responses

_.............
DNever
Areas cleaned
The interviews the cleaners in all sectors revealed that in most cases cleaners were
allocated a set area (eg office floors, group of rooms, or selected bUildings). The warners
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100,---------------------------, generally reported not having been involved in the area allocation, and some fell the allocation
was unfair with some site areas having greater cleaning requirements than others. In other
cases the cleaners fell that the total workload could not be safely managed with the number of
staff and the number of hours allocated. Consultation between the cleaners and management
regarding the areas to be cleaned and the time allocated appeared to be limited.
Where workers had some control over their work and the work order, they were generally
happier and managed better, as illustrated by this comment:
"After injury, I change system. NowI mop, then vacuum, then mop. Easier for me." (Cleaner, High School)
Equipmenf
In most cases the workers were supplied with a limited range of equipment (see also Section
4.6). The study identified that workers most likely to have anything other than 'standard
eqUipment' were those who had returned to work following injury and had been supplied with
alternative, often lighter or long handled equipment.
111
10
  Ofke Hospitality
• SometllTJi!l
CNewr
In the cases where workers had been involved with equipment selection they reported being
satisfied with the equipment as it was often more comfortable and usable than other
equipment, so helped them to work more efficiently and safely.
Comparison of job control and influence with other cleaners
However from the interviews with the workers, there appeared to be two distinct groups. There
were those who identified strongly as being a 'cleaner' or a room attendant and believed the
job was both very important and potentially very satisfying, and those who did cleaning as a
temporary job or a second occupation and did not have strong feelings for the job. A
comparison of the two groups of workers is evident from these quotes:
"I love it! /t's in my blood"(High School Cleaner - a long term worker)
The main areas of difference between this study and the Robens Centre study are the workers
in this study reported having less influence over 'what' that did but having more control over
when they were able to take breaks than cleaners in the Robens Centre study. Acomparison
of this study with the Robens Centre Study is summarised in Table 16.
Table 16 - Comparison with Robens Centre Study (1999)
Work 0 anisation Factors
Have a choice in decidi HOW uv.ork?
Have a choice in WHAT ou do?
Decide v.tJen to take breaks?
4.4.3 Job satisfaction and job meaning
Ollen
55%
26%
18%
Sometimes
31%
27%
20%
Never
10%
41%
55%
"I'm not a cleaner. My family are not cleaners. Work is for survival... "(Commercial office cleaner - new)
The first group of workers were reported taking great pride in their work and appeared
determined to achieve a high standard for their areas. This group often reported doing exira
tasks or doing the cleaning more thoroughly than was required as they wanted to achieve a
clean work area and feel greater satisfaction. The second and much smaller group of workers
was more likely to view their job as a 'means to an end' in terms of income and fell less
attachment to their job, and often saw the job as temporary until they could gain alternate
employment.
Other comments by workers illustrated their feelings about their role, and their desire to do a
thorough job:
"I like it to be as clean as my home" (Cleaner, High School)
"I can't walkpast something dirty" (Cleaner, Primary School)
Cleaners were also asked if they fell that the work they did was important. No significant
differences (X 2 = 4.18, P = .12) were found between the three sectors. Figure 6 shows the
responses of workers in each sector.
Fi9ure 6- Importance of job
"I like to do a goodjob" (Cleaner, High School)
Figure 7 shows the responses of workers to how they felt aboultheir job as a whole.
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Fig 7 - Cleaners response to the question "How do you feel about your job as a whole?"
"...
35
t :
i 20
15
Job as aW'loIe
A high percentage (60%) of workers reported that they were happy with their job as a whole.
No statistically significant differences were found between the three sectors.
However one issue of particular concern to government and commercial office cleaners was
job security. Workers explained that their employment was often affected by their employer's
successful tendering for new contracts. If workers were forced to move between employers
they risked losing various employment service entitlements.
4.4.4 Support at work, leadership and feedback
The workers were also asked how they fell about the help and support they received from
supervisors and work mates, and the recognilionlfeedback they received from their supervisor
and from others at the workplace (eg teachers, office workers etc).
The workers completed a 5 point diagrammatic/verbal rating scale that indicated it they were
very happy to very unhappy for these factors. The first two categories (very happy, happy) and
the last three categories (OK, unhappy, very unhappy) were combined to produce the following
results, summarised in Figures 8 and 9.
Figure 8 - Cleaners response to the question "How do you feel about the help and support given to you
by supervisors?" & "How do you feel about the help and support given to you by your work mates?"
100
'"
DVeryHemiHilR¥
f
50
l
... .OKAJ!WJmNeryUrI1i!Jw
20
to
WrkNails
Figure 9 - Cleaners response to the question "How do you feel about the recognition/feedback you
neceive from your supervisor?" and "How do you feel about the recogmllonlfeedback you receive from
others?"
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
100
.,
10
f
50

..
to

..-
_....
No significant differences were found between the sectors for questions relating to the help
and support the cleaners received from their work mates (X 2 = 1.36, P = .51); the
recognitionlfeedback they received from their supervisor (X 2 =2.58, P = .28); and from others
at the workplace they clean (X 2 = 1.66, P = .43). However, a significant difference was found
between the sectors in response to the question relating to the support the cleaners received
from their supervisors (X 2 =7.86, P =.02). When compared to the other two sectors,
govemment contract cleaners were found to be significantly more unhappy about the support
they received from supervisors. Many reported to be very frustrated and even angry with the
supervisors.
From discussions with all workers, but in particular government cleaners, it was evident that
most believed their supervisors were "nice people", however they felt the supervisor was
unable to proVide them with the support they reqUired. Examples workers prOVided were:
Supervisors that did not fix or replace faUlty equipment within a reasonable time frame
or failed to take action despite numerous requests; and
Supervisors that did not appear to take their OHS concerns seriously, eg regarding site
safety, work rates, storage, equipment selection etc
Possible reasons for this reported lack of supervisory support suggested by government
cleaners were that the supervisor:
had too many sites to look after (eg 180 separate sites) so was too busy to do a proper
job
lacked skills in people management and communication
lacked skills in budget management
had an inadequate budget to work from, 50 could not replace worn or faulty equipment
as required (eg supply new mop-heads)
Other comments made by workers included:
"Supervisor is friendfy, but doesn't provide equipmen"t (Cleaner, High School)
"My work is not appreciated" (Cleaner, Primary School)
"I would like a faster response!" (ie from the supervisor) (Cleaner, Primary School)
We don't see him much... n referring to the supervisor (Cleaner, Primary School)
We have no support!" (Cleaner, High School)
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Fillal Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
4.5 Physical Risk Assessment
4.5.1 ManTRA
One of the aims of ManTRA is to enable an assessment of the exposure to musculoskeletal
risk faelors associated with manual tasks in the workplace.
Repetition risk is determined by assessing cycle time and task duration, then a combined
score for repetition is allocated (max score =5). Exertion risk is determined by assessing force
and speed, and these codes are combined to give an overall score for exertion (max score =
5). The cumulative risk score is calculated by adding together the codes for total time,
repetition risk, exertion risk, awkwardness and vibration.
According to Burgess·Limerick et al 2004:
"Action may be indicated if, for any body region if the Exertion Risk factor is 5, the sum of
Exertion or Awkwardness is 8 or greater, or the Cumulative Risk score is 15 or greater. A
maximum score for exertion for any body region, or a high combined exertion and
awkwardness score. indicates a high risk of acute injury; while a high risk of cumulative injury
is indicated by the presence.of multiple risk factors for any particular body region
n

As can be seen in Table 17 and 18 the upper limb and neck/shoulder regions consistently
s.cored higher than the back or lower limb for the Cumulative Risk scores and
Exertion/Awkardness scores emphasizing that the upper limb is at risk of developing a MSD.
Table 17- Average Cumulative Risk scores for common tasks performed by cleaners
The average cumulative risk scores were below 15 for all body areas, with scores ranging from
6 to 18 for all body regions. While on average the scores for each body part are below 15, this
may be due to most cleaners working either total daily shifts of 3 to 4 hours or split shifts of 3
to 4 hours each. When calculating the cumulative risk score in this study, the total time was
calculated as time per shift. However if the cumulative risk score was to be calculated per day,
the scores on average would be likely to be several points higher as the government contrael
cleaners tend to work split shifts. The total risk scores for government cleaners and others
working 6 - 7 hours per day would be approximately 1 to 2 points higher, bringing a number of
tasks for the upper limb and neck/shoulder body regions into this higher risk level. The impael
of other jobs (ie second jobs held by these workers) would further increase the risk scores if
the job had similar physical demands.
This study identified that the highest cumulative risk scores were for the upper limb and
neck/shoulder body regions for vacuuming tasks. These higher scores may be attributable to
the number of workers who worked 8 hour shifts or who were required to perform vacuuming
tasks for the majority of their shift with lillie opportunity to change tasks. Another faelor which
may have resulted in these higher scores was the mismatch of the vacuum type with the work
environment or the wand length with the height of the worker. The use of poorly suited
equipment can result in workers adopting awkward postures that increase injury risk, such as
bent and twisted back postures, and working with the shoulders elevated and reaching across
the body.
The average scores for Repetition Risk are below the maximum score of 5, and this is due to
the workers frequently changing their tasks. In this case even though cycle time was scored
as 'high', the task duration impaeled on lowering the Repetition Risk score. This further
highlights that considering repetition in isolation does not property explain the risks in the
tasks. All faelors need to be considered.
Table 18 - Average Repetitive Risk, Exertion Risk and summed Exertion and Awkwardness scores for
common tasks performed by cleaners
Task Lower Limb Back Neck/Shoulder Hand/ArmJWrisl
Wei Mopping 7.7 8.9 12.0 12.4
Static Mopping 7.5 8.4 10.5 11.9
Vacuuming 8.5 10.7 13.0 14.1
Buffing 8.0 10.1 12.9 13.3
Detailing 7.8 9.5 11.1 11.2
Oeaning Tailets 8.1 10.4 11.8 11.9
Emptying Rubbish 8.2 10.5 12.0 12.8
Statistical analysis using a Kruskal Wallis test was also conducted to compare the cumulative
risk scores for each body area for each task between the three sectors. No significant
differences were found between the seelors for vacuuming, buffing and emptying rubbish bins
for all body area cumulative risk scores. Significant differences between the seelors were
found for wet mopping in the neck/shoulder (X 2 =5.96, P =.05) and armlhandlwrist (X 2 =9.2,
P=.01) body areas.
The govemment contraelors had significantly lower cumulative risk scores than the other two
seelors. This may be allributed to the govemment cleaners being more experienced cleaners
who may have beller techniques. Paver et al (1997) in their study on wet mopping found that
cleaners with limited experience of mopping demonstrated less desirable pallems of
movement (eg forward bending and twisting of the back) than more experienced cleaners.
Another reason for the higher scores in the commercial office and commercial
residential/recreational sectors was that these cleaners often had to wet mop in more confined
spaces such as toilets and bathrooms, which would lead to cleaners having to adopt awkward
postures. Wet mopping in more open spaces such as class rooms may allow these cleaners
to adopt safer postures.
4.5.2 Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)
Although ManTRA was useful for determining the risk of MSD for specific cleaning tasks it was
not sensitive enough to specifically identify risks associated with shoulder, hand and wrist
postures. Therefore, further analysis using the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment tool was
undertaken to complement the ManTRA analysis.
UL UpperUmb NS Neck/Shoulders LL lower Umb B Bad<
Repetition Risk Exertion Risk Exertion +
Awkwardness
LL B NS UL LL B NS UL LL B NS UL
Wei Mopping 3.1 3.1 3.1 3.1 1.0 1.3 3.0 3.4 2.1 3.4 6.5 6.9
Static Mopping 3.3 3.3 3.3 3.3 1.0 1.0 1.9 2.3 2.1 3.0 5.1 6.5
Vacuuming 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9 1.0 1.2 3.1 3.8 2.1 3.9 6.6 7.6
Buffing 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.6 1 2.4 3.4 3.4 2 3.9 5.4 5.7
Detailing 3.1 3.1 3.2 3.2 1 1.3 2.6 2.9 2.5 4.2 5.8 5.9
Cleaning Tailets 3.3 3.3 3.3 3.3 1.1 1.6 2.9 3.1 3.2 5.4 6.4 6.3
Emptying Rubbish 3.7 3.7 3.7 3.7 1 1.1 3.3 3.9 2.4 4.6 6.3 7.4
- - - =
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
I work More than 200?
Across the 3 sectors of interest there was a range of manual and other equipment provided for
cleaning tasks. The main findings with the equipment are described below and the typical
equipment seen at the site visits is summarised in Table 21.
4.6 Equipment Survey Results
The findings from the ManTRA analysis identified that most cleaners assessed demonstrated
cycle times in the upper limb of less than 10 seconds in duration. Combining these cycle
findings calculated from the ManTRA analysis and the above definition, all of the common
cleaning tasks analysed in this study would be considered to be 'repetitive' for the shoulder,
upper arm/elbow and forearmlwrist. However, the Repetition Risk calculated using ManTRA
(see Table 18) showed scores that were below the maximum score of 5, and this was due to
the Repetition Risk being a combination of task duration and cycle time. In most cases
cleaners frequently changed tasks, resulting in the duration of each task being minimised.
These tasks are also considered to be 'high risk' due to the repetitive nature of the work, the
awkward upper limb postures, and the speed reqUired. Jobs that require constant motion
without adequate breaks do not prOVide for muscle recovery, and so place muscles at risk of
fatigue and strain. Repetitive tasks that also require significant force, awkward postures or
static postures further increase the risk of musculoskeletal injury (OSHA 1999; NOHSC 1994).
I Finger
Note the mEOOmum score that can be achieved In the RULA analysiS IS 7
Table19 - RULA mean risk scores for common tasks performed by cleaners
Analysis ofthe workers' upper limb postures and movements was undertaken using the Rapid
Upper Limb Assessment (RULA). RULlI. uses body posture diagrams for the upper arm, lower
arm, wrist, neck, trunk and legs. The postures of the worker are coded according to the
amount of nexion/extension, adduction/abduction away from the midline, and twisting. Scores
are also allocated for repetition or static loading and the forcelload exerted. These body
posture diagram codes and scoring tables are combined to calculate a risk score of between 1
and 7. A risk score of 5 or 6 indicates that investigation and changes are required soon. A
score of 7 indicates that investigation and changes are required immediately (McAtamney &
Corlett 1993). The average risk scores for the common cleaning tasks performed by the
cleaners are shown in Table 19.
Task Number Mean Risk Score SD Range
Vacuuming 33 5.6 1.2 3-7
Wet Mopping 20 7.0 0 7 7
Static Mopping 9 5.0 1.5 3-7
Detailing 18 6.2 0.9 4-7
Cleaning Toilets 7 6.6 0.5 6-7
Emptying Rubbish 5 5.2 1.6 3 7
BUffing 7 6.1 0.4 6-7
-
The RULA scores for all tasks are high and the task of wet mopping consistently exceeded
acceptable limits and changes are required immediately to reduce excessive loading of the
musculoskeletal system and the risk of injury. All the other tasks risk scores were between 5
and 6, and this signifies that changes are also required. Statistical analysis using a Kruskal
Wallis test was also conducted to compare the risk scores for each task between the three
sectors. No signllicant differences were found between the sectors for any of the tasks.
4.5.3 Repetitive Worik of the Upper Limb
While there is no specific definition of 'repetitive' in the ergonomics literature, Kilborn (1994)
provides some guidance for repetition of the upper limb that may increase risk. The features of
'high risk' tasks are described in Table 20.
Table 20 - Rate of work causing high risks for musculoskeletal disorders (Kilbom 1994)
4.6.1 Wet mopping equipment
Most cleaners were supplied with mops on aluminium shafts and with plastic ferrules, though
timber handles are still observed at some work sites. Of a small sample of cleaners at various
sites, ail reported the aluminium handles to be easy to use, not slippery to grasp, and lighter
than the timber handles. The most notable issue with the mops was their very long handle
length, and in a number of cases these were seen to be well above the head height of the
user. Earlier research identified that handles should be approximately level with user's chin
height as longer handles require excessive shoulder flexion and abduction and increase the
risk of shoulder injury (WorkCover 1998). These poor and potentially damaging shoulder
postures were evident in many of the workers observed In the survey. Mop handles are
available in a range of lengths (1350mm, 1500mm & 1800mm) and can also be cut down to
suit workers, but handle length was generally not selected or adapted to suit the workers
surveyed.
In nearly all cases observed, the buckets used were plastic wringer buckets (15 or 16 Iitres)
with 'wide mouths' and either a plastic or metal wringer. The main differences were the foot
plates for both steadying the bucket and for applying pressure on the wringer mechanism.
Some staff complained of foot pads being too small, sloped or slippery, and allowing their foot
to slip off. On one model the bucket handle and wringer mechanism tended to strike the user
on the shin when the mop was being rung out.
Body area Frequency of Risk modification very high risk if modified by
movement! contraction either:
per minute
Idvnamlc or slaticl
Shoulder More than 2.5 High external force, speed, high static load, extreme
UnnP.r ann/elbow More than 10 posture, lack of training, high demands on output,
Forearmlwrist More than 10 monotony, lack of control, long duration of repetitive
Mop heads observed in use were cotton or poly-colton, with most cieaners appearing to prefer
the lighter poly-cotton or spaghetti heads (with thinner strings), as these reportedly left less fluff
and threads on the floor. Mop head size was not always evident, but sizes referred to as 24"-
26" sized heads (ie 600 - 650mm) appeared most common. Some cleaners believed the
cotton was best for wet-mopping, while the poly-cotton was best for applying floor sealer.
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Finaf Repod - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
At several sites in the commercial recreation and commercial residential sectors wor1<ers were
observed to wor1< on their hands and knees to clean the floors in hotel/motel bathrooms and
around the toilets in other hospitality sites.
4.6.2 Vacuums
Vacuums varied across sectors, as outlined in Table 21. In schoois, the vacuums were
generally the oldest across the sectors and in the worst state of repair, however this was not
the case at all sites visited. In some premises vacuums were estimated to be at least 12 -15
years old (according to the cleaners and confirmed by equipment suppliers). The older
backpack vacuums were the heaviest, being approximately 8kg when empty, as compared
with the newer models (averaging 4.5kg for ten newer models).
Capacity for typical new backpack vacuums is 4-5 Iitres. Backpacks were generally held in
frames made of either metal or plastic, and some had a triangular shaped plastic in a flexible
moulding instead of a rigid frame. ShOUlder harness and waisUhip strap design varied, with
the easiest of these to fit and adjust having wide straps with Velcro fastenings. However, it
was observed that the larger wor1<ers could not fasten the standard waist straps due to their
wider girth size.
For vacuuming in rooms with a lot of furniture or many fixtures, most but not all wor1<ers found
a backpack vacuum more convenient stating the canister type became caught on furniture.
However others preferred the small canisters as they had no load on their back and the small
units were easy to pull. These were also preferred when vacuuming was only of short
duration, such as for room attendants in commercial accommodation.
At one of the premises a hip-mounted vacuum was used. The wor1<er reported this was very
comfortable and was purchased for her after shoulder and back problems. The wor1<er did
however note one disadvantage associated with the small capacity of the vacuum (only 2.2
Iitres), as it required more frequent emptying. All commercial residential and some school sites
studied, used small industrial cleaners that were light (5-8kg) and had larger container capacity
than the backpack vacuums (10--18 litre capacity for the canisters).
Floor nozzles and accessories varied, and the wor1<ers reported that the easiest nozzle to use
was one with wheels on the nozzle, allowing easy pushing even with high suction. Some
premises supplied these heads to cleaners on 'light duties' following back Dr arm injuries, but
did not routinely supply them reporting the wheels were often not robust and tended to break.
Floor tools were generally 270mm - 280mm wide (ie width of tool on the floor). larger upright
commercial vacuums cleaned a width of 380 to 640mm.
No adjustable wands were observed dUring the site visits, therefore there was no opportunity
for the cleaners to adjust the length of the wand to suit their height. A number of cleaners
were observed using very long wands for their height (often at chin height) resutting in them
haVing to adopt awkWard upper limb postures to accommodate the excessive length of the
wand.
4.6.3 Floor polishers
One brand of floor polisher was evident across most sites. This brand has machines with
varying amounts of power, and different features (eg vacuum) and floor pads, with models for
'straight line' Dr 'swing' style operations. The weight of the polishers ranges from 29kg to 42kg,
and this weight is an issue if polishers are pulled up and down steps or stairs - an activity
final Report - Assessment r:J the Repetitive Manual Tasks d Cleaners
which was observed at a few school sites. Cleaners also reported having to pull polishers up
stairs in demountable buildings and in older buildings with different levels within the building.
Applying sealant and polish Was generally with a mop, though many cleaners who had used
the applicator preferred this as it was lighter and also provided faster coverage due to the
width of the head (670mm wide) being 3 times as wide as the mop head at 230mm. While
some cleaners preferred the straight line style over the swing, others reported that it was more
tiring.
4.6.4 Emptying waste
Many cleaners commented that heavy items were often hidden within other waste, making the
weight of the load very variable. This was a common problem at schools where industrial art
created heavy waste. There was also 'pressure" reported to save the plastic bin liner and
instead to lift and tip the contents of the bin. For the heavy metal bins, weighing more than 3kg
when empty, this was reported by cleaners as one of the more difficult tasks.
4.6.5 Cleaning and other trolleys
The typical trolley used in office blocks was the blue paper waste trolley. The reported and
evident problems with this trolley for taller users was the low pushing height (780mm) requiring
some wor1<ers to have to stoop, but also the fixed height that cleaners had to tip the waste
over. For smaller cleaners the height of 780mm required lifting their arms above shoulder
height to clear the bin over the side of the trolley. However as all wheels rotated this was easy
to push from any side. When used outdoors (eg across courtyards) some cleaners
complained about the wheels, saying larger wheels would make the trolley more stabie and
easier to push.
Another, but less seen trolley was the Rubbermaid cleaners trolley. This trolley had a higher
pushing side, dedicated space from which to suspend bags and capacity for carrying cleaning
equipment such as buckets, various floor tools and detailing equipment.
4.6.6 Damp wiping I detailing equipment
Most cleaners were provided with standard cotton cloths and trigger aelion bottles to do wiping
and detailing, but others were supplied with the newer microfibre products. Microfibre cloths
are made of minute synthetic fibres that are split in order to trap dirt, dust and moisture from
surfaces. According to an assessment by the Australian Consumers' Association (2003),
microfibre cloths were superior to standard cloths for picking up dust and dirt and polishing
surfaces without leaving streaks and dust, and have the advantage of not requiring chemicals.
From a physical and musculoskeletal view point, the main advantages appear to be the
reduced rate of wringing out needed, and a smaller amount of pressure applied to surfaces to
achieve the same Dr superior finish. However the microfibre cloths were not suited for
cleaning up "heavy-duty grease and grime, baked on stains or soap scum" without the addition
of a chemical cleaning solution (Australian Consumers' Association 2003).
Another cleaning tool using microfibre fabric was long-handled tools with narrow strips of the
cloth bound at one end. These were used for high dusting or dusting bookshelves etc. There
are also commercially available microfibre mops for floor cleaning, and these claim to be
lighter, require less water, and be twice as fast as cleaning hard floors with the conventional
mop and bucket method (Microfibre Cleaning Technology 2004).
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleanem
To reach low tables (such as in primary schools and kindergartens) some cleaners were
supplied with long-handled tools - often a mop head on a cut-down timber handle. Other
commercially available tools observed were long-handled dusters with coUon fringes (900mm
handle with fringe).
Many workers reported that their chemicals and deaning aids were inadequate, particularly for
cleaning stained and marked surfaces such as school desks. Some cleaners in the
govemment sector brought in their own chemical aids and brushes including various
commercially available 'erasers' and 'power pads' that are small blocks gripped in the fingers
for removing ink, crayon, built up grime, scuff marks etc. One worker used a floor cleaning
product (a chemical stripper) for dirty desk tops. Some workers in the commercial residential
and govemment cleaning sectors reported that they found the cleaning cloths too small and
slow, and substituted them for small hand towels in order to cover a wider area.
4.6.7 Equipment selection, purchase and maintenance
Four of the seven employers responded to the survey regarding their rationale for equipment
selection, and regarding the specific equipment they recommended for the common cleaning
tasks.
'According to the respondents, companies usually relied on the skills and experience of various
managers when selecting equipment. With some companies this included a site evaluation
and an equipment trial involving the cleaning workers or housekeeping staff, However the
responses to the survey indicated that the risk assessment process did not consistentlyinvolve
the workers who use the equipment and know the tasks, as is required under the OHS Act,
and generally relied on a manager's assessment with no apparent regard for the workers'
opinions or preferences. Assistance and input from OHS and Injury Management personnel
could provide value in this assessment as they should be familiar with the current risk
assessment tools and be aware of some of the risk factors to be aware of.
According to interviews and information from managers during the site visits and from the
completed wrilten surveys, each company had what they believed was a systematic and
comprehensive way of ensuring the equipment used by their staff was appropriate, well
maintained and replaced as necessary. They also reported that they had the necessary
systems in place to ensure all staff were properly trained in the use of equipment and in the
ability to manage all work tasks safely. They also reported that if problems or queries arose
they were quickly and efficiently remedied.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
masking tape used to mend vacuum hoses;
broken straps on backpack vacuums;
dust-control mops with damaged swivel mechanisms; and
sites where workers had placed simple requests (such as for a new mop head) and this
had reportedly not been supplied· ... for months!!".
At some sites the cleaning and/or housekeeping staff consistently made the same complaints
and reported being dissatisfied with their employer/manager regarding equipment provision
and maintenance. The workers also reported being frustrated by this apparent inaction or
disinterest.
However, there were also a number of sites where there was consistent satisfaction among
staff regarding equipment supply and maintenance. At these sites the equipment was
observed to be newer and in belter condition. Also while some companies supplied equipment
such as long-handled brush and dustpans as a standard piece of equipment, this
procedure/practice was not evident in other sites atthough staff reported they would prefer
them to the standard brushes and pans.
The following negative and positive comments by cleaners at the sites highlight some of the
findings:
Negative comments
Waste time moving equipment between buildings. Always try to save time!" (Cleaner, Primary School)
'The backpack doesn't suit me!" (small Cleaner, Primary School)
"It's like getting blood out of a stone. Youjust have to make do" - regarding obtaining repairs or replacement
equipment (Cleaner, Primary School)
Positive comments:
"(Supervisor name) asked us what we wanted and left spares in case one broke down" - regarding vacuum
cleaners (Cleaner, High School)
"We have a vacuum in each separate bUilding and a spare vacuum in each school" (Supervisor)
"She asked me what was hard, and I said the low desks. So she gave me a shorl handled mop!"
A work practice observed at a number of the hospitality sites was for workers to be on their
hands and knees to clean bathroom floors and walls in hotel rooms despite the availability (in
the market place) of alternate and more comfortable and safer methods. When the managers
and workers were questioned regarding these work practices they were considered to be
standard and accepted work practices by both parties.
Table 21 - Equipment in use at sites visited
While the companies' various policies and systems were not reviewed formally, from
observations of the equipment and work practices and information provided in the interviews, it
would appear that the systems for the selection, use and maintenance of equipment are not
implemented or not working in a large number of the worksites visited. This was commonly
observed in the government contract sites.
The main problems typically observed and reported by the cleaners at government sites were
identified as:
the age of the equipment;
the poor state of some equipment; and
the time delays in repair or replacement of equipment.
This was evident by faulty and damaged equipment such as:
Equipment used for
common tasks
Floor washing and wet-
mopping
Government contract -
Schools
Wet mop and bucket used
for all hard surfaces, such
as toilet floors, kitchens,
halls, large foyers, science
rooms etc
Commercial office
buildings
Wet mop and bucket used
for hard surfaces, such as
toilet floors, kitchens, sman
foyers
Mechanised equiJnnent for
Commercial
recreational and
accommodation
Recreational areas -
Variable. Generally w   ~
mopping for the area
between toilets
Residential areas-
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Equipment used for Government contract Commercial office Commercial
common tasks Schools buildings recreational and
accommodation
larger floor areas eg foyers Sponges and cloths used on
and shopplng areas >.Mthln the hotel/motel room floors,
the canmerdal office v.;th staff 'lMlrking on their
buildings hands and knees
Typical features of the floor- Mops aluminium shafts Mops - aluminium shafts Mops - aluminium shafts
washing equipment were most OJrnmon were most cornman were most common
Mop heads -. various Mop heads - various Mop heads - various,
induding abucketv.;th a
Buckets - various, generally Buckets - various generally suspended cone-shaped
plastic but still sane steel plastic basket (Winger conflyor
buckets pushing a special fabric mop
head into
Buckets - various, generally
plastic
Vacuuming carpets Typical type!i included Backpack vacuums y"ere Recreational areas-
backpacks and various used throughout office Wide range of corrmercial
canisters (either upright areas, \Wh upright vacuums vacuums, from self-
barrel- shaped or long units seen to clean lifts propelled upright deaners
lying horizootally) with wde heads (380 -
640rnm wde) to dean "",de,
The most commonly used open areas such as large
was the backpack slyle foyers, to backpacks for
office areas and stairs
Some very old and heavy
canisters were still in use Residential areas-
(eg the 'pigs' -large blue The only vacuum seen was
Electrolux or pink Polivac small canisters
horizontal canisters)
Floor polishing SvMg polishers seen at Vaious swing polishers Various sWng polishers
each site and reportedly and larger machines for and larger machines for
most commonly used large floor areas such as large floor areas such as
open foyers or shopping open foyers or other large
Sealer applied via spray, mall areas and open areas
mop, or an appUcator {same
design as dust control mops
- 670mm wide}
Emptying waste bins Most deaners carried large Each cleaner had a waste- Recreational areas-
plastic bags between the paper trolley with a plastic Either carrying large plastic
rooms and emptied the bag suspended v.l:thin it, and bags or using a deaning
various bins into the large waste bins were tipped trolley tMth a sUSpended bag
bag. directly Into the trolley
Residential areas-
Bins Included: large metal Room bins were typically
bins (45 and 55 litre with small, plastic bins (eg 10
lidS), smaller metal waste litre)
bins and 46 litre plastic bins
Waste cdlection bags were
generaUy suspended from
the deanlng and linen
trolley, then taken (via
trolley or dragged) to the lift
to go to the basement
Taking waste to the Not observed or assessed Not fully observed or
dumpster/Skip assessed
Sta1fv.ere seen lifting the
skip lids and lifting waste
bags into skips at some
sJtes..
Cleaning and linen trolleys Most: sites did not have Each deaner had a blue Recreational areas-
trolleys, or had one trolley trolley, used to hold waste Staff responsible fcrtoDets
shared between staff.
 
and -.wt areas used the
Rubbermald troIlev that has
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Equipment used for Government contract· Commercial office Commercial
common tasks Schools buildings recreational and
accommodation
bottle and other small items a 3 shelves suited to
(eg extra plastic bags) to carrying buckets, paper
their floor. Pockets handtov.els and toilet paper
sometimes sew1 in or supplies etc, long handled
suspended from the main equipment and a suspended
trolley to hold additional vinyl waste bag
dolhs and dusters
Residential areas-
Staff responslble for toilets These trolleys were
and wet areas used the combined deaning and linen
Rubbermaid trolley that has trolleys, canying large Piles
a 3 shelves suited to of bedlinen and towels and
eatJ)ling buckets, paper COOSLmablesfortheroom
handtowels and toilet paper as well as cleaning
supplies etc, long handled equipment
equipment and a suspended
vinyl waste bag At one site they had only
just received trolleys, and
previously had to carry all
their cleaning products and
tools in buckets and bags
Cleaning toilets in and Brush forthe top and Brush for the top and Recreational areas-
around toilets insides of the toilet insides of the toilet Standard length toilet brush,
(standard length - 30Ornm) (standard length - 300mm) plus damp cld:h
One long flanl!ed bush Damp cloth fa the seat A damp cloth 1NaS used to
seen - 600rnm handle wth dean the toilet area and at
150mm brush. Wet mopping around the some sites to clean the floor
floor of the toilet and on the around the toilets within the
Damp cloth fa the seat lov.er sides of the toilet eubide area (ie v.orking on
the hands and knees)
Wet mopping around the
floor of the toilet anel on the Residential areas-
lov.Ief sides of the toilet Standard length toilet bnJsh
plus damp ddh for the toilet
A damp doth was used to
dean the toilet area and the
entire bathroom floor in the
molellhotel units (perfOfTJled
on the hands and knees)
Dusting, wping and other Mix Of convenUonal and Mix of conventional and Recreational areas-
detailing miaufibre c101hs, vaJious miaufibre doths, various Mix of conventional and
dusters, and some loog- dusters, and some loog- miaufibre dolhs, various
handled dusters. Some handled dusters. Some dusters, and some
dusters lMth micro-nbre dUsters wth mIcro-fibre handled dusters. Some
strips strips dusters wth micro-fibre
strips
Some cleaners used their Generally clean and stain-
0'Ml pUrchased prOducts to free surfaces to dean
dean stains or marks stating Residential areas-
the supplied products were Mix of conventiooal and
inadequate. Their prefelTed miaufibre doths, various
products included various dUsters, and some
deaning 'blocks' deSigned handled dusters. Some
for hard surfaces to remove dusters "",th micro-fibre
texta, ink, scuff marl<s etc strips
One cleaner used floor
stripper and scouring pads
on school desks, reporting
that this was the only way to
quickly and thoroughly
remove stains and marks
Sweeping and using dust Majllfy 600 c:x- 91 Omm heads Nat seen in use Recreational areas -
control mops Not seen in use
Some had adjustable length
handles, but this was only
seen at one site Residential areas-
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The key differences are summarised in Table 22.
the age and design of the buildings;
the high level of dirt and waste
the user groups (ie active children).
Table 22 - Comparison of features of different work environments
Typical flooring Primary schools- Carpet Carpet in offices
throughout most dassrooms
Wide range
Mainly carpet
Commercial
recreational and
accommodation
Small areas 01 hard flooring
in bathrooms and
kitchens/kitchenettes, and
some areas requiring
special care Unoteum in hallways, and
specific areas (Art, Science
etc)
High schools - Mix o ~ carpet
and linoleum in high schools
Environmental features Government contract· Commercial office
Schools buildings
Equipment used for Government contract· Commercial office Commercial
common tasks Schools buildings recreational and
accommodation
Not seen in use
Also scissor-mop for large,
open areas on some sites
CoUecling litter and piles of Most rommon were plastic Most common 'toYere plastic Rea-eational areas-
dirt and dust from the short-handleel brush and short-handleel brush and Most common were plastic
floor/ground dust pans dustpans short-handled brush and
dustpans
Some long handled sets (ie Some long handled sets Oe
700mm) were also In use In 700mm 'lobby sets') were Some long handled sets (ie
some rompanies also in foyers and on front 700mm 'lobby sets') were
steps (eg for cigarette butts also in foyers and on front
Some companies supplied etc) steps (eg for cigarette butts
vanous long handled pick up etc)
tools to collect litter Oe
1000mmtoo)
Resklential areas-
Most common were plastic
short-hmdled brush and
dustpans
4.7 Work environment
'The study highlighted major differences between the work environments of schools,
commercial office buildings and the hospitality industry (recreational and accommodation) that
affected the range of cleaning tasks, the ease of cleaning and the general physical demands of
these tasks.
Comments made by workers at the sites help to illustrate some of the key issues:
"Young children use lots of dirty stum" - referring to glue, textas and paint in the room (Cleaner, Primary
School)
", lose so much time... I could do other things" - about having to close many windows (Cleaner, High School)
Typical design of areas
deaned, and typical layouts
Generally groups 01
separate, small buUdings,
separated by colrlyards and
pmygrounds accessed via
paths and steps. Indudes
temporary 'demountable'
buildings and rooms with
tiereel areas
Classrooms with venous
desk ronfigurations, with
about 30 chairs and desks
with minimal space to walk
between and around desks.
h ~ v i n   and benches
around one or more sides 01
the rooms (often in front of
windows)
Office blocks from small to
multi-storey
Mainly open plan office
workstations, with groups of
large desks (eg 1300mm x
BOOmm desk top and
various L-shaped designs).
Desks generally fixed to
partitions
Public areas, including:
Bars, restaurants, gambling
machines, theatres
Areas are often dimly lit and
auwded with furniture
Behind the scenes areas,
Induding:
kitchens, omees, change
rooms, laundries
Accommodation areas:
hotel rooms with ensuite
bathrooms
'Weather and wind make it worse" - explaining about leaves, dirt and mud inside (Cleaner, High School)
'Winter is worse. The mud!" (Cleaner, Primary School)
"Used to have to pUll this (floor polisher) up these steps" - referring to steps recently modified to suit a disabled
student (Cleaner, High School)
In contrast, the most demanding work environments appeared to be the schools, and this was
due to:
62
Wide range
Recreational areas - taD
stools With heaw bases,
PapeIS
Food'M'"apping
Drink containers
Typical student desks were
sma" (desk tops measuring
490mmx 590mm) per
student Chairs were
sometimes balanced on the
desks
Student chairs (4 legged) Chairs on castOfS at
Staff chairs (4 legged and workstations
castOfS)
other internal areas: staff
rooms; spedalist
classrooms (eg Art, Science
laboratories, Music Rooms,
canteens etc)
Large toilet blocks
Larger and more stable
desks or benches were
often used in Science and
Art rooms
Papers
Food wrapping
Drink containers
Industrial art waste (day,
paint, timber etc
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Main waste collected from
internal waste bins
Fumlh..e to be moved
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the floors being in most cases carpeted;
most chairs being on castors and easily moved;
the waste produced being more consistent and generally less heavy than other sites; and
the offices having a population of sedentary adults.
Based on the environmental assessment (listed in Table 22), the least physically demanding
work environment appeared to be in the commercial office environments. This was due mainly
to:
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Report - Assessment cAthe Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Environmental features Government contract· Commercial office Commercial Environmental features Government contract - Commercial office Commercial
Schools buildings recreational and Schools buildings recreational and
accommodation accommodation
student dasksltables Some boardroom Of" heavy club chairs, and 4
lunchroom chairs \Wh 4 legs legged chairs at cafes and Condition of toilets Can be very poor in toilet Generally in reasonable Recreational areas-
restaurads blocks with human condition, \Wh occaslonal Can be very poor in toilet
excrement on the floor and dirty areas/blocks blod<s Nth human
Residential areas- walls, toilet paper pulled out excrement on the floor and
Beds on castors and on floor, and female Toilets in pUblic areas (eg walls, toilet paper pUlled out
sanitary products Food coorts) are generally and on floor, and female
Furniture to clean/dean Primary schools have very Desk tops and tables Recreational areas - large in much YoOJSe state than sanitary products
under low   and benches and generally 6BO to 730mm nLWTlbers of gambling the office areas
sinks (eg 4BOmm high) low high machines that reqlire Residential areas-
chairs (250mm high seats), dusting and damp ¥Aping Variable, generally mx as
and lowtoilets Kitchen benches generally bad as public areas
aOOrom Residential areas-
High schools have higher Bed on castors often Access between floors Stairs are most common All premises had lifts AU premises had lifts
desks and larger furniture deaned underneath, with Some newschools have lifts
small gap oodemeath for 'disabled access'
Amountltype d dirt/other Dirt and mud we typk:al, Minimal dirt Minimal dirt Cleaners room design, Some schools had a TypicaUy a large deaners Recreational - various
tracked inside with mud a particuJar number and location cupboard/space in each room was located in the
problem in wet 'Heather May have leaves b1lJ'iJng May have leaves blowing building basement, with a large room
Impact ofweather into the foyer area into the foyer area for vacuum and trolley  
Leaves and rubbish blowin Some areas lacked any storage, another room for Various locations, generally
from playground lighting supplies and for dlemlcal storage on each floor
storage and dispensing.
Children eat and play inside Many deaners' sinks Sane sophisticated
in wet weather (troughs) lacked griUs, and dlemical dispensers were
all lacked hose attachments seen
Main user population Children from age 5 to 18 Adult office worl<ers Mainly adults
No rooms had ventilation - Cleaners then moved via lift
Aduits may be under the most lacked vertilation fonn to their allocated floors
influence of alcohol and any windows, and none had
ather drugs exhaust fan
General condition of High number d waste lownumber of waste Recreational areas- Most lacked shelving or had
carpeted flooring pre- artides and/or dirt per artides and/or dirt per Variable, dependent on inadequate shelving for
deaning square metre (eg small square metre (eg small number cA patrons, day of supplies (with heavy
paper scraps, paperclips, paper scraps, paperclips) the week, events, food and chemicals stored on the
foodstuffs, dried mUd, pencil drink areas etc. Mainly flornJ
sharpenings, chalk dust) foodstuffs, spilt drinks,
dgarette butts/ash Access to hot water Umited use of hot water Hot water usually taken from Residential areas-
basement, transported via Hot water available from
Peak times eg Friday and Access generally limited to the lift (though balling water handbasins
Saturday ff!tN places, so necessary to from urns is available most
carry buckets up and dO'lMl floors)
Residential areas- stairs
Variable, but generally low
Ventilation during deanlng Windows mainly dosed, so In most cases Recreational areas-
General condition of hard High number of waste Low number of waste Recreational areas- stuffy conditions and hot in airconditioning was turned Airconditiooed buildings but
flooring pre-deaning (toilets artides and/or dirt per artides and/or dirt per Variable, dependent on wann weather off or to very lowresulting in aircon not always on when
and bathrooms exduded) square metre (eg mud, square metre (eg number of patrons, day of heat and stuffiness in building is deaned
paint, shoe scuff marks, foodscraps, small paper the week, events, food and buildings
small paper scraps. scraps, paperdips) drink areas etc. Mainly Residential areas-
foodstuffs, pencil foodstuffs, spilt drinks, Airconditiooed in larger
sharpenings, chalk dust) dgarette butts/ash premises, with fan cooling
and open wndows in
Peak: times eg Friday and smaller premises
Saturday
Concentration of people per High concentration of lowconcentration of people Recreational areas-
Residential areas- area offloaring people in dassrOOffiS (30) Can be very high
Variable, but generally low concentration of people,
with standing room only at
General condition of Often marl<ec1 with graffiti, Genetally just dust and Can be very sticky/dirty wth peak periods
tables/desks paint, texta marks, sticky occasional coffee stain spilt drinks and foodstuffs
foodstuffs Food/drink areas Food and drink commonly Food often eaten at desks, Restaurants, cates and bars
eaten In dassrooms, and prepared in small
Equipment and paperMJfk Vanable. Typical envirooments had Recreational areas- canteens and in corridors kitdlens.
etc on tables/desks Classroom desks were computers on each desk Variable
dear, but many benchtops with V8lYing amount of Food courts may be part of
held diSJXays or models, and paperwol1<. on either side Residential areas- the contrad at large sites
other rooms held oomputers Variable
and other electronic Time building is used Monday to Friday Monday to Friday Generally 7 days a week
eQuillffienl approximately Bam to 4pm appruximatelY 7.30 to 6Pm,
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Environmental features Government contract -
Schools
Commercial office
bUildings
Commercial
recreational and
accommodation
.. For deaners wotking in small buildings, they may travel between various sites in one shift.
Cleaners dean windows
Windows Classrooms generally have
- need to dean or operate opening windows
windows?
Cleaners must dose
windows at end of day
(where required). Typically
sash windows, and often
poorly maintained and
difficult to reach (eg catches
more then 2000mm high)
4.8 Weights and forces
A range ,of commonly used equipment was reviewed. Typical loads lifted and carried by
workers were between 5 - Bkg, and this lifting was in a range of postures, often in twisted, bent
and other poor postures, so placing workers at risk of MSDs. The heaviest lifting and handling
identified was to move furniture and floor polishers.
Forces required also varied, WITh some equipment requiring minimal force to move over the
floor surface (eg dust control mop) and other requiring greater force (eg wet mop on a very
dirty sUrface). The largest forces measured were to push and pull trolleys used in the
commercial residential sector to carry cleaning equipment, bed linen and towels etc, and also
the forces to open and close roller doors. Some windows in the schools also required high
forces to open and close, but this force could not be measured. Table 23 provides a summary
of typical weights and forces.
While the most common weights are less than 10kg, the degree of risk is affected by the
posture, duration, repetITion etc required in the task, and individual characteristics of the
worker. Similarly, some of the forces required maximum effort by some workers, such as
pulling and pushing jammed windows, the linen trolleys and opening roller doors.
Table 23 - Summary of typical weights and forces
Range of weights and Load lifted or handled Weight (kg)
forces
Typical items lifted or Backpack vacuum 5-8kg
carried:
Bags of waste paper 3-7kg
Canister vacuums - eg out of cleaners room or up 5-9kg
a sleD
Bucket of water from sink 5kg
Chemical containers 5kg
Steel waste paper bins - small <lkg
Steel waste paper bins - 45 to 55 litre capacity. 2.5 3.25kg of
Weight varied according to material empty bin
Heaviest items lifted or Floor polishers, up steps 42kg
carried:
Art room waste (eg steel, wood, clay) Estimated as up to
45kg with full bins
25 litre containers of chemicals (generally lifted 25kg
onto a shelf then a tap is inserted for dispensing)
so an infrequent task
Chairs, tables and other furniture - moved for end Wide range
of term clean up in schools. Includes moving
couches and book cases etc.
Tasks requiring pUlling Pulling various canister vacuums over various low 1kg - 5kg (varied
or pushing forces: pile carpets with wheel
orientation, carpet,
load etel
Pushinn heavil laden trollevs (eo in hosDitalitv 10 -15ka I varied with
Residential areas-
Cleaning is done in the
middle of the day (eg lOam
to 3pm - check)
Access to the rooms is
either via a fmot foyer Of
front driveway (eg motel
units)
Recreational areas -
Various arrangements
during opening hours,
limited Of non-existent
before public opening
with occasional later finishes
on Friday nights
Generally fixed dosed v.ith Generally fixed dosed with
air conditioning air conditioning in use
Cleaners work. most of the Recreational areas
shift after sunset Various shifts, \'ffh some
groups

lUrking pre sunrise
All work located in one and others post sunset, and
building" others during the day
Cleaners do not dean
windows
Normal office fighting Most deaning is done in
throughout building ear1y morning
~   u s levels of lighting
around buHdings to reach
transport
Vmiaus sewrity
arrangements - from
security staff' at the base of
large bUildings, and limited
access to floors via sv.;pe
cards and keys
plus often have extemal
courses using the facilities
after hours and on
weekends
Some deaners rooms
lacked any lighting (no
window or light)
No security staff or any
other staff present for at
least half of each afternoon
and evening shift:
Many deaners working
alone at sites
Lighting during deaning shift Cleaners work parts of their
shifts pre sunrise and post
sunset (often split shifts, so
at both ends of the day)
Many buildings lacked goOO
external lighting (09 at gates
and between school
buildings)
Seeulity during deanlng
still
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Final Report - Assessment of fhe Repetitive Manual Tasks fA ClearlSf3 Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
sector, loaded with sheets, towels etc) wheel orientation,
carpet, load etc)
Pulling chain to open roller doors (eg in 15kg initial farce
playgrounds and to close off canteens/delivery
areas)
Pulling and pushing sash windows (to open or Unable to measure.
close them) In some cases
maximum force
applied by workers
and researchers
could not move
Ihem.
Pulling mop through wringer 14-151<g <as
measLWed in Paver et
a11997)
5.1 Overview
The job of cleaning at government sites (eg schools) and at commercial sites (office,
recreational and residential) exposes these workers to high risk of developing work-related
upper limb MSDs. The literature shows there is strong evidence to support the link between
MSDsand:
physical risk factors - such as force, posture, repetition and a combination of these
factors; equipment; environment;
• work organisation factors; and
individual factors.
Summary & Conclusions 5.
Employer survey 4.9
It is postulated that training has a potential impact on MSDs. As such, inaddition to questions
regarding equipment, employers were asked about training. Three of the 7 employers
completed and returned the surveys, and these represented a large number of cleaning
workers. No further details on businesses can be provided due to confidentiality agreements.
The focus of the study was therefore not restricted to physical risk factors (such as repetition)
but investigated each of the above areas. This approach is consistent with the most up to
date, evidence based literature on MSDs, their risk factors and prevention.
The type and duration of training reportedly varied between companies and sectors, from very
fundamental 'on the job' direction by another worker, to workers' attendance at more fonnal
courses. According to the survey, some cleaning workers had commenced or completed
studies towards a qualification in Asset Management. These courses range from the 6 month,
Certificate /I in Cleaning Operations, to the 2 year Certificate IV in Cleaning Operations
Management.
5.2 Physical risk factors
5.2.1 Task demands
However the number of staff who had yet to undergo any induction training, risk management
training and manual handling training was a concern.
While some companies only employed people with good conversational English, others
employed people with very limited English. Given the high number of workers from non-
English speaking backgrounds, it was interesting to see howthis was managed in the context
of training. In the survey, employers reported using strategies including: demonstration; use of
pictorials; and ongoing practical instruction. One company reported also using the worker's
family members (such as high school age children) to assist in reading and understanding any
written information that was taken home by the worker. Only one company reported uSing
interpreters, and no workplaces reported using multilingual material.
From talking to the workers, it was apparent that there were areas where instruction and
training was still indicated, and in a language other than English. For example, in the cleaners'
rooms there was often written information (eg Material Safety Data sheets and Injury and
Hazard Report Fonns etc) however this information was in English, and was generally difficult
to read due to the small font and the poor lighting in the cleaners' rooms.
The semi-quantitative assessment tools that were selected for use (ManTRA and RULA)
highlighted the problems associated with the simultaneous exposure to mUltiple. risk factors.
Repetition, force, speed, static loading, awkward postures and other factors combined to make
all of the assessed tasks high risk for the development of MSDs. The physical risk analysis
identified that each of the common cleaning tasks was classified as "requiring change" due to
the high levels of risk, especially for the upper limb. Wet-mopping was identified as requiring
the most immediate action.
The repetitive nature of these cleaning tasks was also a concem, and when the specific
repetitions were compared against risk criteria (Kilborn 1994) the tasks were all rated as being
high risk for the upper limb, partiCUlarly when combined with the other physical risk factors.
Another factor increasing risk was that some tasks required similar postures and movements -
eg wet mopping and static mopping - which resulted in limited opportunity to use different
muscle groups.
The overall exposure time and the impact of other jobs was likely to further increase risk of
MSDs due to their cumulative effect, and the exposure to multiple risk factors. In the
commercial residential and recreational sectors the tasks assessed using ManTRA generally
had higher cumulative risk scores, and this was mainly due to the longer exposure time of
workers due to their longer shilts.
One reason that the overall ManTRA cumulative risk scores were just below 15 (where action
needs to be taken) is that the common work arrangements are for govemment and commercial
office cleaners to work short shifts (3 to 4 hours) and split shifts. The current split shift
arrangement for govemment cleaners may have some protective effect in allowing
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Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
recovery/rest between shifts, and therefore reducing risk of developing a MSD. Any increase
in shift length or removal of spin shifts should be considered with caution as increasing hours
per shill (eg to 6 - 8 hours) is likely to increase the risk of MSDs. Consideration would need to
be given to adequate rest breaks, proper equipment selection, and work organisation factors
such as control over work, task variety etc to successfully manage any change. Having a
second job that is also physically demanding would further increase the risk of developing a
MSD due to the cumulative effect.
5.2.2 Equipment
A major factor contributing to the risk of MSDs was the lack of suitable equipment at many of
the sites visited. Workers were ollen using equipment that was not well suited to the task, the
user or the environment or equipment that was not properly maintained. Our findings were
consistent with an earlier study of school cleaners in NSW schools and technical colleges
(Gaudry 1998).
Despite the legislation regarding consultation, workers generally reported not being involved
wnh equipment selection. It is postulated that this may have contributed to some unsunable
equipment being chosen for use.. For example, the method of cleaning the flooring in pUblic
toilets and hotel bathrooms on the hands and knees placed workers at unnecessary and
'unacceptable injury and disease risk.
The workers interviewed also reported feeling frustrated that they had not been consulted
regarding equipment selection, adding to their feelings of lack of control and lack of support
which are themselves risk factors for upper limb MSDs according to the literature (Macdonald
2003). Our findings are consistent with findings from other cleaning studies that concluded
that there appears to be: a lack of assessment and trial of equipment prior to purchase; a lack
of consultation with the users; unsunable or non-existent maintenance and replacement
schedules; and some confusion over roles and responsibilnies of the parties regarding
equipment purchase, maintenance, and storage (Woods et al 1999; Woods & Buckle in press
2004; Gaudry 1998; Aickin & Carasco 1998; Paver et aI1997).
The selection, supply and maintenance of equipment are areas within the cleaning industry
where improvements can most easily be made. Having the right equipment could help to
achieve better cleaning standards, improved productivity, increased worker morale and would
reduce the risk of workers sustaining a MSD or other injury.
5.2.3 Work environment
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
• and poorly designed cleaners' rooms.
While the design of existing buildings, fumilure and fittings can be hard to remedy immediately,
any refurbishments or changes should be designed with consideration of the cleaning
requirements and the workers, aiming to reduce the risk of injury associated with this work.
Furthermore, the owners/controllers of worksites need to be cognisant of the fact that they also
have responsibilnies for heallh and safety, including providing and maintaining safe
access/egress and ensuring that contractors are not exposed to risks to their health and
safety.
5.3 Work organisation factors
The organisation and management of work is a recognised risk factor for MSDs. Workers
interviewed as part of this study identified the following issues in relation to work organisation
factors :
• work rates;
lack of control over the amount of work;
lack of abiltty to get help (if required) and
lack of support from supervisors.
Job demands, job stress and job support are all predictors of increased risk of MSDs (Bongers
et al 1993), and are independent of the physical risk factors that workers are exposed to
(Bernard 1997).
The findings from this study suggest that many workers are having difficulty with the current
work rates, with 53% of workers reporting ollen working very fast, 20% reporting never having
enough time to complete their work, and 53% only sometimes having enough time to complete
their work. According to Macdonald (2000) each of these factors is an indication that work
rates need to be reviewed and adjusted. Together with the physical risk factors discussed
above, there would appear to be an increased risk of these workers sustainin9 MSDs.
It was also evident that most workers had not been SUfficiently involved in the process of
determining work rates, or more commonly, had no say in their work rates. This lack of
consultation and involvement is in itself a predictor of low acceptance of a work rate
(Macdonald et al 2000). Other factors that are reported to reduce the acceptance of work
rates are: high ratings of fatigue; high task difficulty; and work rate considered to be more
important than quality.
69
The common trend reported by workers in each sector was for management to increase work
rates, and to set these rates with no or minimal consultation with the workers.
The conflict between work qualtty versus work rate was a particular issue with government
sector workers as they ollen commented that they felt forced to compromise too much and
could not achieve a good job. Unfortunately highly motivated workers are believed to place
themselves at greater injury risk than less motivated workers as they are most likely to perform
close to their maximum capactty (Macdonald 2003). This is also expected to be the case
where workers wish to achieve a high qualtty job to aid in their work satisfaction and personal
esteem. It is argued that permitting or encouraging workers to operate at "chronically
excessive workloads' should be prohibited due to the well known hazards and high injury and
disease risk, not just for work-related MSDs (Macdonald 2003).
The work environments in this study also had significant impacts on the physical demands of
cleaning work, and this is consistent wnh findings from other studies (Paver et a11997; Woods
et al 1999; Messing et al 1998; Johansson & Ljunggren 1989; Smedje & Norback 2001). Of
the 3 sectors, the government schools appeared to pose the greatest risk to workers due to
factors such as:
• difficull access (wnh steps and stairs)
• degree of dirt tracked inside
heights of fumnure and fixtures (eg in primary schools)
user population
• the age and design of the buildings
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When assessing the risk of MSDs in any industry consideration needs to be given to all the
factors that have been identified as contributing to MSDs. Physical risk factors - such as
working in awkward postures, working under high static load, repetitive work, high forces,
working with vibration, and combinations of these factors - are all strongly associated with the
development of MSDs (OSHA 1999). As well as identifying physical, equipment and work
environment factors, the importance of work organisation factors in the development of MSDs
cannot be overlooked (Borg et al 1994; Landsbergis 2003; Health Council of the Netherlands
2000; Buckle & Devereux 2002).
final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive ManuaJ Tasks of Cleanem
As Macdonald explains (2003), workers are very adaptable to work overload, but work
performance degrades with overload. Although there is no clearly delineated point at which
overload occurs, workers are usually aware when overload is being experienced and where
possible, may take a break or change tasks. However, the lack of control experienced by the
workers in this study may mean that this coping method cannot be used, placing them at
increased risk of injury. Job demands and job control are closely linked, and Macdonald
(2003) outlines how stress, and consequently the risk of a MSD, is more likely to occur when
people are constrained in the way they carry out their work and cope with the demands of the
task. Having a higher level of control enables people to take action to reduce the actual or
potential stressors.
6.
Final Report - Assessment otthe Repetitive Manual Tasks or Cleaners
Conclusion
The lack of support at work is another factor contributing to MSDs, and good support has the
reverse affect. A study of cleaners and their support at work showed the significant and
positive impact that personnel support has on preventing or reducing absenteeism from MSDs
(Landstad et al 2001). However, our study found that 35% of workers indicated that they were
not happy with the support and feedback they received from their supervisors.
Discussions with workers revealed that there were two different types of support that appeared
to be lacking. One type of support was related to the availability or quality of equipment and
staffing levels, and the other was related to positive feedback and other factors that impacted
on workers' morale. The provision of good support has been identified as improving a worker's
coping capacity and make the work more energy efficient, both contributing to an overall
Increase in productivity and potenliallya reduction in injury risk (Macdonald 2003).
5.4 Individual factors
According to the literature, the individual characteristics of workers may also affect their injury
risk, with increasing age, being female, and working with a pre-existing injury placing workers
at increased risk. These characteristics were typical in the workers surveyed.
The average age of the workers in tllis stUdy was 46.7 years, with government contract
cleaners significantly older (aged 53.5 years) than workers in the other sectors, and females
made up 70% of the sample. The author of a study regarding similarly aged cleaners in
Denmark (Nielsen 1992) warned that there would be problems for this ageing workforce Wthe
work environment and workload was "not made to tit the work ability of the elderlyemployees".
The Danish study also noted that both the 'young' and 'elderly' cleaners complained of the
physical demands of Iheir work, including the work postures, heavy lifting, repetitive work, and
high work pace in their jobs.
Another concern in this study was that a large proportion of workers were working with
reported pain and discomfort. Eighty-three percent of workers reported pain or discomfort in
the last 12 months, and 66% of workers reported pain or body discomfort in the last 7 days.
These individual risk factors, combined with those relating to physical and work organisation
risk factors, are placing this population at increased risk of injury. In conducting risk
assessments in the cleaning industry it is clear that the workers' individual characteristics
require careful consideration and recognition.
The findings from this study are consistent with other research into cleaning work overseas
and in Australia that has confirmed that the physical demands, work organisation factors and
individual characteristics of workers present a number of risk factors known to contribute to
injury and disease, including specific risks for the development of upper limb MSDs.
Unfortunately, when comparing the findings from this study with results from earlier studies
and reports in schools (Gaudry 1998; Aickin & Carrasco 1998; LHMU 1999) it appears that the
situation has not changed in some areas, with continuing problems regarding the lack of
consultation, poor support and supervision, inadequate equipment, and poor maintenance of
equipment and of some buildings.
The prevention and management of MSDs appeared to be poorly understood across the
cleaning industry in general, and at the sites visited. This was evidenced by survey resuils,
site observation, and discussions with a wide range of people involved with cleaning in each of
the sectors. Other parties involved with contractors or the cleaning industry also appeared
unaware of their OHS responsibilities. This included site owners/controllers, equipment
designers and manufacturers, and equipment purchasers. Knowledge of OHS requirements is
a fundamental requirement at aU levels, with management, supervisors, purchasers and
designers all having responsibilities.
With the current conditions in the cleaning industry, any expectation of improvements in
productivity without signWicant changes in work organisation, the work environment or
equipment would be unrealistic, and would be placing workers at further and unnecessary risk
of sustaining a MSD.
Considering the overall situation in the cleaning industry, the areas where the most significant
improvements could be made in reducing the risk of MSD are with work organisation and
equipment. For example, the provision of better personnel management and support and
improved equipment design, provision and storage would have a major impact.
While one of the original aims of the stUdy was to develop guidance for workers about common
cleaning tasks, the resuits of this study show that this group has minimal if any influence on
their work. They are not generally involved in selecting the equipment for their tasks, and are
not involved in establishing work rates and influencing other work organisation factors. This
stUdy and the reviewed literature show that to have the most impact, change is required althe
level of management and senior supervisors. The evidence based guide is therefore targeted
althis group ralher than cleaning workers.
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7.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks eX Cleaners
Recommendations
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
the other workplace hazards such as physical, biological or chemical hazards. The cumulative
impael of the risk factors also needs further research and recognition for MSDs.
7.1 Introduction
The results of this study and findings from recent systematic reviews and other studies show
that upper limb MSDs in cleaning work develop from the complex interaction of many risk
faelors. This evidence clearly shows that considering only one or a few risk factors (such as
repetition, duration or force etc) is an inappropriate and ineffective approach to managing and
preventing risk of workers developing MSDs. This project has highlighted that doing cleaning
work is 'high risk' due to a combination of the physical risk factors, work organisation risk
factors and individual riskJaelors.
There is however good evidence of very specific factors that can increase or reduce risk of
workers developing upper limb MSDs.
The first step to managing the problems associated with the repetttive manual tasks of
cleaners is for organisations engaging these workers to use a much more systematic approach
to OHS management. Although the focus of this projeel was on selected cleaning tasks,
before risks associated with these tasks can be controlled, improved OHS systems need to be
implemented. All organisations involved in the employment and contracting of these workers
need to be more cognisant of OHS philosophy, OHS management systems and the process of
-risk management. Until these organisations implement the fundamental principles of OHS
management, controlling the risks associated with these manual handling tasks will not be
sustainable.
Australia's National Occupational Health and Safety Commission has listed the priority 'areas
for action' to achieve improvements in workplace heaRh and safety (NOHSC 2002b):
Strengthen the capacity of government to influence OHS outcomes
Eliminate hazards at the design stage
Improve the capacity of business operators and workers to manage OHS effectively
Prevent occupational disease more effectively
Reduce high incidence/severity risks.
Each of these areas needs to be considered to achieve a reduction in the upper limb MSD
problems experienced by workers performing repetitive cleaning tasks.
These areas of action are consistent wtth the international models of injury prevention and
health promotion which are based on the premise that government policies and aelions can
etther facilitate or discourage actions resuRing in good health or safe behaviours. These
approaches also place responsibiltty on all stakeholders, but particularly those who have the
power and influence to achieve change and 'create supportive environments'. The keystone to
this philosophy is that policies, systems and the individual's environment have a greater impact
on health than an individual's personal skills, knowledge or behaviour (Ottawa Charter 1986).
Also, the focus is proactive and aimed at the prevention of injury and disease rather than being
reactive to injuries and focusing on a treatment or an injury management model.
The preventative approach for MSDs must be comprehensive and include the assessment and
management of the identified work organisation and psychosocial factors, which are currently
often neglected in MSD prevention. Historically the emphasis in Australia has been on the
more concrete and visible issues of equipment and physical workplace design. In the Dutch
legislation, psychosocial factors are reportedly now recognized as comparable in importance to
7.2 Recommendations to WorkCover NSW
7.2.1 Legislation and guidance
Review the newly introduced 'Code of Best Employment Practice for the Cleaning Industry'
from the ACT, and consider its application in NSW and other states. This Code aims to
provide a form of self-regulation for the Cleaning Industry where signatories to the Code
are audited and monttored to ensure compliance with current OHS requirements in addition
to other legal duties (Ryan 2004). Cleaning companies are encouraged to participate and
become signatories to the Code by demonstrating that they are meeting their obligations
and are suitable candidates to gain cleaning contracts without placing employees at undue
risk of injury.
• Assist in educating and guiding industry in their responsibilities to workers and contractors
through the provision of tailored and targeted resources such as the newly developed
Evidence Based Guide to Safer Cleaning work. Also further promote the Guide to Property
Owners and Managers - Guide 1 (WorkCover 2003a), Guide for Cleaning Employers and
Contractors - Guide 2 (WorkCover 2003b) and other relevant and existing resources for
this industry as these are not currently well promoted within the industry.
Provide tailored resources to the Inspectorate and those employing workers to perform
cleaning tasks, such as those developed as part of this project (The Evidence Based Guide
to Safer Cleaning Work and Risk Assessment Guide). Tools such as these assist in
determining cleaning companies' compliance with managing MSDs and clearly illustrate
the high risk and low risk approaches to cleaning work in general, advice on specific
cleaning tasks, and also facilttate a risk management approach.
Continue to emphasise the need for good design in all plant (equipment) and workplace
layout, through ensuring that the requirements of designers, manufacturers, suppliers and
employers are included in relevant legislation and gUidance material, inclUding the new
Standard and Code of Practice for Manual Handling.
Assist with the NOHSC Safe Design Action Plan (NOHSC 2004) to ensure that the designs
of buildings facilitate and allow safe work for all people in the building inclUding cleaners
and room attendants, with the workers' needs incorporated at the design stage.
Continue to work towards incorporating work organisation and psychosocial risk factors
into Standards, Code of Practice and Guidance Material for industry to encourage its
recognition (WERC 2003b). . A greater recognition of the cumulative effects of exposure
to MSD risk factors is also important, and is of particular concern for cleaning workers.
Review methods of assessing work organisation and psychosocial issues in Australian
workplaces and specifically with cleaners, and promote and encourage ongoing research in
this area (eg as is underway at the Work Environment Research Centre in Victoria -
WERC 2003b, and at the University of South Australia - Dollard 2004). Assessment tools
should be sutted to the different occupational groups and to different languages to facilitate
this process.
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Final Report - Assessment of the ReJEtitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Promote OHS and MSD issues to small and medium-sized enterprises. Short seminars
and the use of industry peers have been identified as an effective way to reach small and
medium sized enterprises (Mayhew 1997).
8.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
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e Wor1<Cover NSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & Sarely Matt"'" Ply LIll, February 2005
81
@WOJ1<.CoverNSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & Safely Matt"", Ply LIll, February 2005
82
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks d Cleaners
Pheasant S & Stubbs 0, 1991, Lifting and Handling - an Ergonomic Approach, National Back
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relatedness of upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders, Scandinavian Journal of Work,
Environment and Health, Volume 27, Supplement 1
Smedje G & Norback D 2001, Irritants and allergens at school in relation to fumishings and
cleaning, Indoor Air, Vol11, 127-133
Snook S & Ciriello V, 1991, The design of manual handling tasks: revised tables of maximum
acceptable weights and forces, Ergonomics, Vol 34, No 9,1197 -1213.
Sogaard K, Fallentin N & Nielsen J, 1996, Work load during floor cleaning. The effect of
cleaning methods and work technique, European Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol 73, 73-81
Sogaard K, Laursen B, Jensen BR & Sjogaard G, 2001, Dynamic loads on the upper
extremities during two different floor cleaning methods, Clinical Biomechanics, 16(10):866-79
Standards Australia (1994) SAA HB59 Ergonomics - The human factor. A practical approach
to work systems design
Stevenson MG, 1999, Notes on the Principles of Ergonomics, University of Sydney
Stromsvag, A. (1998). How an OHS management system for contractors can improve
profitability. Journal of Occupational Health and Safety- Australia and New Zealand, 14(5),
505-509
Toivanen H, Helin P, & Hanninen 0, 1993, Impact of regular relaxation training and
psychosocial working factors on neck-shoulder tension and absenteeism in hospital cleaners,
Joumal of Occupational Medicine, Vol 35, No 11,1123-1130
Final Report - Assessment cI. the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Treaster DE & Burr 0, 2004, Gender differences in prevalence of upper extremity
musculoskeletal disorders, Ergonomics, 47(5) 495-526
van der Windt 0, Thomas E, Pope 0, de Winter A, MacFarlane G, Bouter L &Silman A, 2000,
Occupational risk factors for shoulder pain: a systematic review, Occupational and
Environmental Medicine, Vol 57, No 7, 433 - 442
Vaas, Dhondt, Peeters & Middendorp, 1995 WEBA
Van Veldhoven M, Meijman TF, Broersen JPJ & Fortuin RJ, 1997, Handleiding VBBA [VBBA
Test Manual], Amsterdam, Stichting Kwaliteitsbevordering Bedrijfsgezondheidszorg
Vickers I, Baldock R, Smallbone 0, James P & Ekanem I, 2003, Cultural influences on health
and safely atliludes and behaviour in small businesses. Research Report 150. Middlesex
University Business School. Sudbury: Health and Safety Executive
Ware JE & CD Sherbourne, 1992, The MOS 36-item Short Form Heallh Survey (SF-36): I.
Conceptual Framework and Item Selection. Medical Care 30, no. 6: 473-83
Waters T, Putz-Anderson V, Garg A & Fine L, 1993, Revised NIOSH equation for the design
and evaluation of manual lifting tasks, Ergonomics, Vol 36, No 7, 749-776
Weigall, F, Simpson, K, &Bell, A 2004a, Report 1 - Analysis of claims data for the WorkCover
Cleaning Industry Steering Committee, unpublished
Weigall, F, Simpson, K, & Bell, A 2004b, Report 2 - Risk Assessment Tools - a summary and
critical appraisal of the literature, for the WorkCover Cleaning Industry Steering Committee,
unpublished
Westgaard RH & Winkel J, 1997, Review arlicle - Ergonomic intervention research for
improved musculoskeletal health: A critical review, International Journal of Industrial
Ergonomics, Vol 20, 463 - 500
Wilson JR & Corlett EN, 1992, Evaluation of Human Work - A practical ergonomics
methodology, Taylor & Francis
Winkel J, Ekblom B, Hagberg M & Jonsson B, 1989, The working environment of cleaners.
Evaluation of physical strain in mopping and swabbing as a basis for job redesign
Woods V & Buckle P, in press 2004, An investigation into the design and use of workplace
cleaning equipment. Industrial Ergonomics (accepted September 2004)
Woods V, Buckle P & Haisman M, 1999, Musculoskeletal health of cleaners (No. 215/1999).
Robens Centre for Health & Ergonomics.
Work Environment Research Centre 2003a, Summary of current and emerging issues (other
than psychosocial) in the physical handling work environment, Issues Paper 1, report to
NOHSC, Canberra
Work Environment Research Centre 2003b, How to identify and assess the determinants of
work-reJated stress in physical handling work environments and, based on this, how to reduce
workplace stress levels in such environments, Issues Paper 6, report to NOHSC, Canberra
WorkCover NSW, 2004, Insurance Premiums Order 2004-2005
@WorkCoverNSW Cleaning IndustIy Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & Safety Matters Ply Ltd, February 2005
83
@WcxkCover NSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & Safely Matters Ply Ltd, February 2005
84
Final Report - Assessment otthe Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Pheasant S &Stubbs D, 1991, Lifting and Handling - an Ergonomic Approach, National Back
Pain Association, London
Pierre-Jerome C, Bekkelund SI, Mellgren 81 & Torbergsen T, 1996, Quantitative magnetic
resonance imaging and the electrophysiology of the carpal tunnel region in floor cleaners,
Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. 22(2):119-23
Ryan L 2004, Submission: 2004 Awards for Occupational Heallh and Safety, ACT,
unpublished
Karasek RA, Pieper CF, Schwartz JE. Job Content Questionnaire and User's
Guide: Revision 1. Los Angeles: USCLA, 1985
Schaufeli W & Kompier M, 2002, Managing job stress in the Netherlands, TUTS Newsletter No
31
Siegrist J, Starke D. Chandola T, Godin I, Marmot M, Niedhammer I & Peter R, 2004, The
measurement of effort-reward imbalance at work: European comparisons. Soc Sci Med
58(8):1483-1499
Siegrist J, 1996, Adverse health effects of high-effortllow-reward conditions. J Occup Hea/lh
Psycho/1(1):27-41
Sjogren B, Fredlund P, Lundberg I & Weiner J, 2003, Ischemic heart disease in female
cleaners, International Journal of Occupational & Environmental Health 9(2):134-7
Sluiter J, Rest K, Frlngs-Dresen M (2001, Criteria document for evaluating the work
relatedness of upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders, Scandinavian Journal of Work,
Environment and Health, Volume 27, Supplement 1
Smedje G & Norback D 2001, Irritants and allergens at school in relation to furnishings and
cleaning, Indoor Air, Vol 11, 127-133
Snook S & Ciriello V, 1991, The design of manual handiing tasks: revised tables of maximum
acceptable weights and forces, Ergonomics, Vol 34, No 9,1197-1213.
Sogaard K, Fallentin N & Nielsen J, 1996, Work load during floor cleaning. The effect of
cleaning methods and work technique, European Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol 73, 73-81
Sogaard K, Laursen B, Jensen BR & Sjogaard G, 2001, Dynamic loads on the upper
extremities during two different floor cleaning methods, Clinical Biomechanics, 16(10):866-79
Standards Australia (1994) SM HB59 Ergonomics - The human factor. A practical approach
to work systems design
Stevenson MG, 1999, Notes on the Principles of Ergonomics, University of Sydney
Stromsvag, A. (1998). How an OHS management system for contractors can improve
profitability. Journal of Occupational Health and Safety- Australia and New Zealand, 14(5),
505-509
Toivanen H, Helin P, & Hanninen 0, 1993, Impact of regUlar relaxation training and
psychosocial working factors on neck-shoulder tension and absenteeism in hospital cleaners,
Journal of Occupational Medicine, Vol 35, No 11,1123-1130
Final Report - Assessment d the Repetitive Manual Tasks d Cleaners
Treaster DE & Burr D, 2004, Gender differences in prevalence of upper extremity
musculoskeletal disorders, Ergonomics, 47(5) 495-526
van der Windt D, Thomas E, Pope D, de Winter A, MacFarlane G, Bouter L & Silman A, 2000,
Occupational risk factors for shoulder pain: a systematic review, Occupational and
Environmental Medicine, Vol 57, No 7, 433 - 442
Vaas, Dhondt, Peeters & Middendorp, 1995 WEBA
Van Veldhoven M, Meijman TF, Broersen JPJ & Fortuin RJ, 1997, Handleiding VBBA [VBBA
Test Manual), Amsterdam, Stichting Kwaliteitsbevordering Bedrijfsgezondheidszorg
Vickers I, Baldock R, Small bone D, James P & Ekanem I, 2003, Cultural influences on health
and safety attitudes and behaviour in small businesses. Research Report 150. Middlesex
University Business School. Sudbury: Health and Safety Executive
Ware JE & CD Sherbourne, 1992, The MOS 36-item Short Form Heallh Survey (SF-36): I.
Conceptual Framework and Item Selection. Medical Care 30, no. 6: 473-83
Waters T, Putz-Anderson V, Garg A & Fine L, 1993, Revised NIOSH equation for the design
and evaluation of manual lifting tasks, Ergonomics, Vol 36, No 7, 749-776
Weigall, F, Simpson, K, & Bell, A 2004a, Report 1 - Analysis of claims data for the WorkCover
Cleaning Industry Steering Committee, unpublished
Weigall, F, Simpson, K, & Bell, A 2004b, Report 2 - Risk Assessment Tools - a summary and
critical appraisal of the literature, for the WorkCover Cleaning Industry Steering Committee,
unpUblished
Westgaard RH & Winkel J, 1997, Review article - Ergonomic intervention research for
improved musculoskeletal health: A critical review, International Journal of Industrial
Ergonomics, Vol 20, 463 - 500
Wilson JR & Corlett EN, 1992, Evaluation of Human Work - A practical ergonomics
methodology, Taylor & Francis
Winkel J, Ekblom B, Hagberg M & Jonsson B, 1989, The working environment of cleaners.
Evaluation of physical strain in mopping and swabbing as a basis for job redesign
Woods V & Buckle P, in press 2004, An investigation into the design and use of workplace
cleaning equipment. Industrial Ergonomics (accepted September 2004)
Woods V, Buckle P & Haisman M, 1999, Musculoskeletal health of cleaners (No. 215/1999).
Robens Centre for Heallh & Ergonomics.
Work Environment Research Centre 2003a, Summary of current and emerging issues (other
than psychosocial) in the physical handling work environment, Issues Paper 1, report to
NOHSC, Canberra
Work Environment Research Centre 2003b, How to identify and assess the determinants of
wolk-related stress in physical handling walk environments and, based on this, how to reduce
wolkplace stress levels in such environments, Issues Paper 6, report to NOHSC, Canberra
WorkCover NSW, 2004, Insurance Premiums Order 2004-2005
@WOfi(CoverNSWClearing Industry Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & Safety Matter.; Ply ltd, Februal}' 2005
83
@WorkCoverNSW Cleaning Industry Steeting Committee
Report prepared by Health & Safety Ma.tters Ply Ltd, February 2005
84
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Workcover NSW, 2002a, NSW Workplace Safety Summit. Government Response
WorkCover NSW, 2002b, Workers Compensation Statistics NSW 2000/2001
WorkCover NSW, 2001a, Workers Compensation Statistics NSW2000101
WorkCover NSW, 1998 Health and safety for cleaners: Selecting the right mopping equipment
WorkCover NSW, 1995, BackWatch Industry Profile: Health, WorkCover NSW
0) WorkCover NSWCleaning Indusby Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & sorely Matlenl Ply lid, February 2005
85
Catalogue No. 5006
\I\IorkCover NSW 92-100 Donnison Street Gosford NSW2250
locked Bag 2906 lisarow NSW2252 \I\IorkCover Assislance Service 13 10 50
\l\hIDsite www.workcover.nsw.gov.au
CCopyr!ttrt V'ibfi<C0Yer NSW 1106 V1.00

Related Interests

lUrking pre sunrise
All work located in one and others post sunset, and
building" others during the day
Cleaners do not dean
windows
Normal office fighting Most deaning is done in
throughout building ear1y morning
~   u s levels of lighting
around buHdings to reach
transport
Vmiaus sewrity
arrangements - from
security staff' at the base of
large bUildings, and limited
access to floors via sv.;pe
cards and keys
plus often have extemal
courses using the facilities
after hours and on
weekends
Some deaners rooms
lacked any lighting (no
window or light)
No security staff or any
other staff present for at
least half of each afternoon
and evening shift:
Many deaners working
alone at sites
Lighting during deaning shift Cleaners work parts of their
shifts pre sunrise and post
sunset (often split shifts, so
at both ends of the day)
Many buildings lacked goOO
external lighting (09 at gates
and between school
buildings)
Seeulity during deanlng
still
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@WorkCoverNSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
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Final Report - Assessment of fhe Repetitive Manual Tasks fA ClearlSf3 Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
sector, loaded with sheets, towels etc) wheel orientation,
carpet, load etc)
Pulling chain to open roller doors (eg in 15kg initial farce
playgrounds and to close off canteens/delivery
areas)
Pulling and pushing sash windows (to open or Unable to measure.
close them) In some cases
maximum force
applied by workers
and researchers
could not move
Ihem.
Pulling mop through wringer 14-151<g <as
measLWed in Paver et
a11997)
5.1 Overview
The job of cleaning at government sites (eg schools) and at commercial sites (office,
recreational and residential) exposes these workers to high risk of developing work-related
upper limb MSDs. The literature shows there is strong evidence to support the link between
MSDsand:
physical risk factors - such as force, posture, repetition and a combination of these
factors; equipment; environment;
• work organisation factors; and
individual factors.
Summary & Conclusions 5.
Employer survey 4.9
It is postulated that training has a potential impact on MSDs. As such, inaddition to questions
regarding equipment, employers were asked about training. Three of the 7 employers
completed and returned the surveys, and these represented a large number of cleaning
workers. No further details on businesses can be provided due to confidentiality agreements.
The focus of the study was therefore not restricted to physical risk factors (such as repetition)
but investigated each of the above areas. This approach is consistent with the most up to
date, evidence based literature on MSDs, their risk factors and prevention.
The type and duration of training reportedly varied between companies and sectors, from very
fundamental 'on the job' direction by another worker, to workers' attendance at more fonnal
courses. According to the survey, some cleaning workers had commenced or completed
studies towards a qualification in Asset Management. These courses range from the 6 month,
Certificate /I in Cleaning Operations, to the 2 year Certificate IV in Cleaning Operations
Management.
5.2 Physical risk factors
5.2.1 Task demands
However the number of staff who had yet to undergo any induction training, risk management
training and manual handling training was a concern.
While some companies only employed people with good conversational English, others
employed people with very limited English. Given the high number of workers from non-
English speaking backgrounds, it was interesting to see howthis was managed in the context
of training. In the survey, employers reported using strategies including: demonstration; use of
pictorials; and ongoing practical instruction. One company reported also using the worker's
family members (such as high school age children) to assist in reading and understanding any
written information that was taken home by the worker. Only one company reported uSing
interpreters, and no workplaces reported using multilingual material.
From talking to the workers, it was apparent that there were areas where instruction and
training was still indicated, and in a language other than English. For example, in the cleaners'
rooms there was often written information (eg Material Safety Data sheets and Injury and
Hazard Report Fonns etc) however this information was in English, and was generally difficult
to read due to the small font and the poor lighting in the cleaners' rooms.
The semi-quantitative assessment tools that were selected for use (ManTRA and RULA)
highlighted the problems associated with the simultaneous exposure to mUltiple. risk factors.
Repetition, force, speed, static loading, awkward postures and other factors combined to make
all of the assessed tasks high risk for the development of MSDs. The physical risk analysis
identified that each of the common cleaning tasks was classified as "requiring change" due to
the high levels of risk, especially for the upper limb. Wet-mopping was identified as requiring
the most immediate action.
The repetitive nature of these cleaning tasks was also a concem, and when the specific
repetitions were compared against risk criteria (Kilborn 1994) the tasks were all rated as being
high risk for the upper limb, partiCUlarly when combined with the other physical risk factors.
Another factor increasing risk was that some tasks required similar postures and movements -
eg wet mopping and static mopping - which resulted in limited opportunity to use different
muscle groups.
The overall exposure time and the impact of other jobs was likely to further increase risk of
MSDs due to their cumulative effect, and the exposure to multiple risk factors. In the
commercial residential and recreational sectors the tasks assessed using ManTRA generally
had higher cumulative risk scores, and this was mainly due to the longer exposure time of
workers due to their longer shilts.
One reason that the overall ManTRA cumulative risk scores were just below 15 (where action
needs to be taken) is that the common work arrangements are for govemment and commercial
office cleaners to work short shifts (3 to 4 hours) and split shifts. The current split shift
arrangement for govemment cleaners may have some protective effect in allowing
@WarkCoverNSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
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@WOf1<Cover NSW Cleaning Industry steering Committee
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68
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
recovery/rest between shifts, and therefore reducing risk of developing a MSD. Any increase
in shift length or removal of spin shifts should be considered with caution as increasing hours
per shill (eg to 6 - 8 hours) is likely to increase the risk of MSDs. Consideration would need to
be given to adequate rest breaks, proper equipment selection, and work organisation factors
such as control over work, task variety etc to successfully manage any change. Having a
second job that is also physically demanding would further increase the risk of developing a
MSD due to the cumulative effect.
5.2.2 Equipment
A major factor contributing to the risk of MSDs was the lack of suitable equipment at many of
the sites visited. Workers were ollen using equipment that was not well suited to the task, the
user or the environment or equipment that was not properly maintained. Our findings were
consistent with an earlier study of school cleaners in NSW schools and technical colleges
(Gaudry 1998).
Despite the legislation regarding consultation, workers generally reported not being involved
wnh equipment selection. It is postulated that this may have contributed to some unsunable
equipment being chosen for use.. For example, the method of cleaning the flooring in pUblic
toilets and hotel bathrooms on the hands and knees placed workers at unnecessary and
'unacceptable injury and disease risk.
The workers interviewed also reported feeling frustrated that they had not been consulted
regarding equipment selection, adding to their feelings of lack of control and lack of support
which are themselves risk factors for upper limb MSDs according to the literature (Macdonald
2003). Our findings are consistent with findings from other cleaning studies that concluded
that there appears to be: a lack of assessment and trial of equipment prior to purchase; a lack
of consultation with the users; unsunable or non-existent maintenance and replacement
schedules; and some confusion over roles and responsibilnies of the parties regarding
equipment purchase, maintenance, and storage (Woods et al 1999; Woods & Buckle in press
2004; Gaudry 1998; Aickin & Carasco 1998; Paver et aI1997).
The selection, supply and maintenance of equipment are areas within the cleaning industry
where improvements can most easily be made. Having the right equipment could help to
achieve better cleaning standards, improved productivity, increased worker morale and would
reduce the risk of workers sustaining a MSD or other injury.
5.2.3 Work environment
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
• and poorly designed cleaners' rooms.
While the design of existing buildings, fumilure and fittings can be hard to remedy immediately,
any refurbishments or changes should be designed with consideration of the cleaning
requirements and the workers, aiming to reduce the risk of injury associated with this work.
Furthermore, the owners/controllers of worksites need to be cognisant of the fact that they also
have responsibilnies for heallh and safety, including providing and maintaining safe
access/egress and ensuring that contractors are not exposed to risks to their health and
safety.
5.3 Work organisation factors
The organisation and management of work is a recognised risk factor for MSDs. Workers
interviewed as part of this study identified the following issues in relation to work organisation
factors :
• work rates;
lack of control over the amount of work;
lack of abiltty to get help (if required) and
lack of support from supervisors.
Job demands, job stress and job support are all predictors of increased risk of MSDs (Bongers
et al 1993), and are independent of the physical risk factors that workers are exposed to
(Bernard 1997).
The findings from this study suggest that many workers are having difficulty with the current
work rates, with 53% of workers reporting ollen working very fast, 20% reporting never having
enough time to complete their work, and 53% only sometimes having enough time to complete
their work. According to Macdonald (2000) each of these factors is an indication that work
rates need to be reviewed and adjusted. Together with the physical risk factors discussed
above, there would appear to be an increased risk of these workers sustainin9 MSDs.
It was also evident that most workers had not been SUfficiently involved in the process of
determining work rates, or more commonly, had no say in their work rates. This lack of
consultation and involvement is in itself a predictor of low acceptance of a work rate
(Macdonald et al 2000). Other factors that are reported to reduce the acceptance of work
rates are: high ratings of fatigue; high task difficulty; and work rate considered to be more
important than quality.
69
The common trend reported by workers in each sector was for management to increase work
rates, and to set these rates with no or minimal consultation with the workers.
The conflict between work qualtty versus work rate was a particular issue with government
sector workers as they ollen commented that they felt forced to compromise too much and
could not achieve a good job. Unfortunately highly motivated workers are believed to place
themselves at greater injury risk than less motivated workers as they are most likely to perform
close to their maximum capactty (Macdonald 2003). This is also expected to be the case
where workers wish to achieve a high qualtty job to aid in their work satisfaction and personal
esteem. It is argued that permitting or encouraging workers to operate at "chronically
excessive workloads' should be prohibited due to the well known hazards and high injury and
disease risk, not just for work-related MSDs (Macdonald 2003).
The work environments in this study also had significant impacts on the physical demands of
cleaning work, and this is consistent wnh findings from other studies (Paver et a11997; Woods
et al 1999; Messing et al 1998; Johansson & Ljunggren 1989; Smedje & Norback 2001). Of
the 3 sectors, the government schools appeared to pose the greatest risk to workers due to
factors such as:
• difficull access (wnh steps and stairs)
• degree of dirt tracked inside
heights of fumnure and fixtures (eg in primary schools)
user population
• the age and design of the buildings
C WorkCover NSWCleaning Industry Steering Committee
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©WorkCover NSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
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70
When assessing the risk of MSDs in any industry consideration needs to be given to all the
factors that have been identified as contributing to MSDs. Physical risk factors - such as
working in awkward postures, working under high static load, repetitive work, high forces,
working with vibration, and combinations of these factors - are all strongly associated with the
development of MSDs (OSHA 1999). As well as identifying physical, equipment and work
environment factors, the importance of work organisation factors in the development of MSDs
cannot be overlooked (Borg et al 1994; Landsbergis 2003; Health Council of the Netherlands
2000; Buckle & Devereux 2002).
final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive ManuaJ Tasks of Cleanem
As Macdonald explains (2003), workers are very adaptable to work overload, but work
performance degrades with overload. Although there is no clearly delineated point at which
overload occurs, workers are usually aware when overload is being experienced and where
possible, may take a break or change tasks. However, the lack of control experienced by the
workers in this study may mean that this coping method cannot be used, placing them at
increased risk of injury. Job demands and job control are closely linked, and Macdonald
(2003) outlines how stress, and consequently the risk of a MSD, is more likely to occur when
people are constrained in the way they carry out their work and cope with the demands of the
task. Having a higher level of control enables people to take action to reduce the actual or
potential stressors.
6.
Final Report - Assessment otthe Repetitive Manual Tasks or Cleaners
Conclusion
The lack of support at work is another factor contributing to MSDs, and good support has the
reverse affect. A study of cleaners and their support at work showed the significant and
positive impact that personnel support has on preventing or reducing absenteeism from MSDs
(Landstad et al 2001). However, our study found that 35% of workers indicated that they were
not happy with the support and feedback they received from their supervisors.
Discussions with workers revealed that there were two different types of support that appeared
to be lacking. One type of support was related to the availability or quality of equipment and
staffing levels, and the other was related to positive feedback and other factors that impacted
on workers' morale. The provision of good support has been identified as improving a worker's
coping capacity and make the work more energy efficient, both contributing to an overall
Increase in productivity and potenliallya reduction in injury risk (Macdonald 2003).
5.4 Individual factors
According to the literature, the individual characteristics of workers may also affect their injury
risk, with increasing age, being female, and working with a pre-existing injury placing workers
at increased risk. These characteristics were typical in the workers surveyed.
The average age of the workers in tllis stUdy was 46.7 years, with government contract
cleaners significantly older (aged 53.5 years) than workers in the other sectors, and females
made up 70% of the sample. The author of a study regarding similarly aged cleaners in
Denmark (Nielsen 1992) warned that there would be problems for this ageing workforce Wthe
work environment and workload was "not made to tit the work ability of the elderlyemployees".
The Danish study also noted that both the 'young' and 'elderly' cleaners complained of the
physical demands of Iheir work, including the work postures, heavy lifting, repetitive work, and
high work pace in their jobs.
Another concern in this study was that a large proportion of workers were working with
reported pain and discomfort. Eighty-three percent of workers reported pain or discomfort in
the last 12 months, and 66% of workers reported pain or body discomfort in the last 7 days.
These individual risk factors, combined with those relating to physical and work organisation
risk factors, are placing this population at increased risk of injury. In conducting risk
assessments in the cleaning industry it is clear that the workers' individual characteristics
require careful consideration and recognition.
The findings from this study are consistent with other research into cleaning work overseas
and in Australia that has confirmed that the physical demands, work organisation factors and
individual characteristics of workers present a number of risk factors known to contribute to
injury and disease, including specific risks for the development of upper limb MSDs.
Unfortunately, when comparing the findings from this study with results from earlier studies
and reports in schools (Gaudry 1998; Aickin & Carrasco 1998; LHMU 1999) it appears that the
situation has not changed in some areas, with continuing problems regarding the lack of
consultation, poor support and supervision, inadequate equipment, and poor maintenance of
equipment and of some buildings.
The prevention and management of MSDs appeared to be poorly understood across the
cleaning industry in general, and at the sites visited. This was evidenced by survey resuils,
site observation, and discussions with a wide range of people involved with cleaning in each of
the sectors. Other parties involved with contractors or the cleaning industry also appeared
unaware of their OHS responsibilities. This included site owners/controllers, equipment
designers and manufacturers, and equipment purchasers. Knowledge of OHS requirements is
a fundamental requirement at aU levels, with management, supervisors, purchasers and
designers all having responsibilities.
With the current conditions in the cleaning industry, any expectation of improvements in
productivity without signWicant changes in work organisation, the work environment or
equipment would be unrealistic, and would be placing workers at further and unnecessary risk
of sustaining a MSD.
Considering the overall situation in the cleaning industry, the areas where the most significant
improvements could be made in reducing the risk of MSD are with work organisation and
equipment. For example, the provision of better personnel management and support and
improved equipment design, provision and storage would have a major impact.
While one of the original aims of the stUdy was to develop guidance for workers about common
cleaning tasks, the resuits of this study show that this group has minimal if any influence on
their work. They are not generally involved in selecting the equipment for their tasks, and are
not involved in establishing work rates and influencing other work organisation factors. This
stUdy and the reviewed literature show that to have the most impact, change is required althe
level of management and senior supervisors. The evidence based guide is therefore targeted
althis group ralher than cleaning workers.
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7.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks eX Cleaners
Recommendations
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
the other workplace hazards such as physical, biological or chemical hazards. The cumulative
impael of the risk factors also needs further research and recognition for MSDs.
7.1 Introduction
The results of this study and findings from recent systematic reviews and other studies show
that upper limb MSDs in cleaning work develop from the complex interaction of many risk
faelors. This evidence clearly shows that considering only one or a few risk factors (such as
repetition, duration or force etc) is an inappropriate and ineffective approach to managing and
preventing risk of workers developing MSDs. This project has highlighted that doing cleaning
work is 'high risk' due to a combination of the physical risk factors, work organisation risk
factors and individual riskJaelors.
There is however good evidence of very specific factors that can increase or reduce risk of
workers developing upper limb MSDs.
The first step to managing the problems associated with the repetttive manual tasks of
cleaners is for organisations engaging these workers to use a much more systematic approach
to OHS management. Although the focus of this projeel was on selected cleaning tasks,
before risks associated with these tasks can be controlled, improved OHS systems need to be
implemented. All organisations involved in the employment and contracting of these workers
need to be more cognisant of OHS philosophy, OHS management systems and the process of
-risk management. Until these organisations implement the fundamental principles of OHS
management, controlling the risks associated with these manual handling tasks will not be
sustainable.
Australia's National Occupational Health and Safety Commission has listed the priority 'areas
for action' to achieve improvements in workplace heaRh and safety (NOHSC 2002b):
Strengthen the capacity of government to influence OHS outcomes
Eliminate hazards at the design stage
Improve the capacity of business operators and workers to manage OHS effectively
Prevent occupational disease more effectively
Reduce high incidence/severity risks.
Each of these areas needs to be considered to achieve a reduction in the upper limb MSD
problems experienced by workers performing repetitive cleaning tasks.
These areas of action are consistent wtth the international models of injury prevention and
health promotion which are based on the premise that government policies and aelions can
etther facilitate or discourage actions resuRing in good health or safe behaviours. These
approaches also place responsibiltty on all stakeholders, but particularly those who have the
power and influence to achieve change and 'create supportive environments'. The keystone to
this philosophy is that policies, systems and the individual's environment have a greater impact
on health than an individual's personal skills, knowledge or behaviour (Ottawa Charter 1986).
Also, the focus is proactive and aimed at the prevention of injury and disease rather than being
reactive to injuries and focusing on a treatment or an injury management model.
The preventative approach for MSDs must be comprehensive and include the assessment and
management of the identified work organisation and psychosocial factors, which are currently
often neglected in MSD prevention. Historically the emphasis in Australia has been on the
more concrete and visible issues of equipment and physical workplace design. In the Dutch
legislation, psychosocial factors are reportedly now recognized as comparable in importance to
7.2 Recommendations to WorkCover NSW
7.2.1 Legislation and guidance
Review the newly introduced 'Code of Best Employment Practice for the Cleaning Industry'
from the ACT, and consider its application in NSW and other states. This Code aims to
provide a form of self-regulation for the Cleaning Industry where signatories to the Code
are audited and monttored to ensure compliance with current OHS requirements in addition
to other legal duties (Ryan 2004). Cleaning companies are encouraged to participate and
become signatories to the Code by demonstrating that they are meeting their obligations
and are suitable candidates to gain cleaning contracts without placing employees at undue
risk of injury.
• Assist in educating and guiding industry in their responsibilities to workers and contractors
through the provision of tailored and targeted resources such as the newly developed
Evidence Based Guide to Safer Cleaning work. Also further promote the Guide to Property
Owners and Managers - Guide 1 (WorkCover 2003a), Guide for Cleaning Employers and
Contractors - Guide 2 (WorkCover 2003b) and other relevant and existing resources for
this industry as these are not currently well promoted within the industry.
Provide tailored resources to the Inspectorate and those employing workers to perform
cleaning tasks, such as those developed as part of this project (The Evidence Based Guide
to Safer Cleaning Work and Risk Assessment Guide). Tools such as these assist in
determining cleaning companies' compliance with managing MSDs and clearly illustrate
the high risk and low risk approaches to cleaning work in general, advice on specific
cleaning tasks, and also facilttate a risk management approach.
Continue to emphasise the need for good design in all plant (equipment) and workplace
layout, through ensuring that the requirements of designers, manufacturers, suppliers and
employers are included in relevant legislation and gUidance material, inclUding the new
Standard and Code of Practice for Manual Handling.
Assist with the NOHSC Safe Design Action Plan (NOHSC 2004) to ensure that the designs
of buildings facilitate and allow safe work for all people in the building inclUding cleaners
and room attendants, with the workers' needs incorporated at the design stage.
Continue to work towards incorporating work organisation and psychosocial risk factors
into Standards, Code of Practice and Guidance Material for industry to encourage its
recognition (WERC 2003b). . A greater recognition of the cumulative effects of exposure
to MSD risk factors is also important, and is of particular concern for cleaning workers.
Review methods of assessing work organisation and psychosocial issues in Australian
workplaces and specifically with cleaners, and promote and encourage ongoing research in
this area (eg as is underway at the Work Environment Research Centre in Victoria -
WERC 2003b, and at the University of South Australia - Dollard 2004). Assessment tools
should be sutted to the different occupational groups and to different languages to facilitate
this process.
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Final Report - Assessment of the ReJEtitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Promote OHS and MSD issues to small and medium-sized enterprises. Short seminars
and the use of industry peers have been identified as an effective way to reach small and
medium sized enterprises (Mayhew 1997).
8.
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
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than psychosocial) in the physical handling work environment, Issues Paper 1, report to
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workplace stress levels in such environments, Issues Paper 6, report to NOHSC, Canberra
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@WorkCoverNSW Cleaning IndustIy Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & Safety Matters Ply Ltd, February 2005
83
@WcxkCover NSW Cleaning Industry Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & Safely Matters Ply Ltd, February 2005
84
Final Report - Assessment otthe Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Pheasant S &Stubbs D, 1991, Lifting and Handling - an Ergonomic Approach, National Back
Pain Association, London
Pierre-Jerome C, Bekkelund SI, Mellgren 81 & Torbergsen T, 1996, Quantitative magnetic
resonance imaging and the electrophysiology of the carpal tunnel region in floor cleaners,
Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. 22(2):119-23
Ryan L 2004, Submission: 2004 Awards for Occupational Heallh and Safety, ACT,
unpublished
Karasek RA, Pieper CF, Schwartz JE. Job Content Questionnaire and User's
Guide: Revision 1. Los Angeles: USCLA, 1985
Schaufeli W & Kompier M, 2002, Managing job stress in the Netherlands, TUTS Newsletter No
31
Siegrist J, Starke D. Chandola T, Godin I, Marmot M, Niedhammer I & Peter R, 2004, The
measurement of effort-reward imbalance at work: European comparisons. Soc Sci Med
58(8):1483-1499
Siegrist J, 1996, Adverse health effects of high-effortllow-reward conditions. J Occup Hea/lh
Psycho/1(1):27-41
Sjogren B, Fredlund P, Lundberg I & Weiner J, 2003, Ischemic heart disease in female
cleaners, International Journal of Occupational & Environmental Health 9(2):134-7
Sluiter J, Rest K, Frlngs-Dresen M (2001, Criteria document for evaluating the work
relatedness of upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders, Scandinavian Journal of Work,
Environment and Health, Volume 27, Supplement 1
Smedje G & Norback D 2001, Irritants and allergens at school in relation to furnishings and
cleaning, Indoor Air, Vol 11, 127-133
Snook S & Ciriello V, 1991, The design of manual handiing tasks: revised tables of maximum
acceptable weights and forces, Ergonomics, Vol 34, No 9,1197-1213.
Sogaard K, Fallentin N & Nielsen J, 1996, Work load during floor cleaning. The effect of
cleaning methods and work technique, European Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol 73, 73-81
Sogaard K, Laursen B, Jensen BR & Sjogaard G, 2001, Dynamic loads on the upper
extremities during two different floor cleaning methods, Clinical Biomechanics, 16(10):866-79
Standards Australia (1994) SM HB59 Ergonomics - The human factor. A practical approach
to work systems design
Stevenson MG, 1999, Notes on the Principles of Ergonomics, University of Sydney
Stromsvag, A. (1998). How an OHS management system for contractors can improve
profitability. Journal of Occupational Health and Safety- Australia and New Zealand, 14(5),
505-509
Toivanen H, Helin P, & Hanninen 0, 1993, Impact of regUlar relaxation training and
psychosocial working factors on neck-shoulder tension and absenteeism in hospital cleaners,
Journal of Occupational Medicine, Vol 35, No 11,1123-1130
Final Report - Assessment d the Repetitive Manual Tasks d Cleaners
Treaster DE & Burr D, 2004, Gender differences in prevalence of upper extremity
musculoskeletal disorders, Ergonomics, 47(5) 495-526
van der Windt D, Thomas E, Pope D, de Winter A, MacFarlane G, Bouter L & Silman A, 2000,
Occupational risk factors for shoulder pain: a systematic review, Occupational and
Environmental Medicine, Vol 57, No 7, 433 - 442
Vaas, Dhondt, Peeters & Middendorp, 1995 WEBA
Van Veldhoven M, Meijman TF, Broersen JPJ & Fortuin RJ, 1997, Handleiding VBBA [VBBA
Test Manual), Amsterdam, Stichting Kwaliteitsbevordering Bedrijfsgezondheidszorg
Vickers I, Baldock R, Small bone D, James P & Ekanem I, 2003, Cultural influences on health
and safety attitudes and behaviour in small businesses. Research Report 150. Middlesex
University Business School. Sudbury: Health and Safety Executive
Ware JE & CD Sherbourne, 1992, The MOS 36-item Short Form Heallh Survey (SF-36): I.
Conceptual Framework and Item Selection. Medical Care 30, no. 6: 473-83
Waters T, Putz-Anderson V, Garg A & Fine L, 1993, Revised NIOSH equation for the design
and evaluation of manual lifting tasks, Ergonomics, Vol 36, No 7, 749-776
Weigall, F, Simpson, K, & Bell, A 2004a, Report 1 - Analysis of claims data for the WorkCover
Cleaning Industry Steering Committee, unpublished
Weigall, F, Simpson, K, & Bell, A 2004b, Report 2 - Risk Assessment Tools - a summary and
critical appraisal of the literature, for the WorkCover Cleaning Industry Steering Committee,
unpUblished
Westgaard RH & Winkel J, 1997, Review article - Ergonomic intervention research for
improved musculoskeletal health: A critical review, International Journal of Industrial
Ergonomics, Vol 20, 463 - 500
Wilson JR & Corlett EN, 1992, Evaluation of Human Work - A practical ergonomics
methodology, Taylor & Francis
Winkel J, Ekblom B, Hagberg M & Jonsson B, 1989, The working environment of cleaners.
Evaluation of physical strain in mopping and swabbing as a basis for job redesign
Woods V & Buckle P, in press 2004, An investigation into the design and use of workplace
cleaning equipment. Industrial Ergonomics (accepted September 2004)
Woods V, Buckle P & Haisman M, 1999, Musculoskeletal health of cleaners (No. 215/1999).
Robens Centre for Heallh & Ergonomics.
Work Environment Research Centre 2003a, Summary of current and emerging issues (other
than psychosocial) in the physical handling work environment, Issues Paper 1, report to
NOHSC, Canberra
Work Environment Research Centre 2003b, How to identify and assess the determinants of
wolk-related stress in physical handling walk environments and, based on this, how to reduce
wolkplace stress levels in such environments, Issues Paper 6, report to NOHSC, Canberra
WorkCover NSW, 2004, Insurance Premiums Order 2004-2005
@WOfi(CoverNSWClearing Industry Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & Safety Matter.; Ply ltd, Februal}' 2005
83
@WorkCoverNSW Cleaning Industry Steeting Committee
Report prepared by Health & Safety Ma.tters Ply Ltd, February 2005
84
Final Report - Assessment of the Repetitive Manual Tasks of Cleaners
Workcover NSW, 2002a, NSW Workplace Safety Summit. Government Response
WorkCover NSW, 2002b, Workers Compensation Statistics NSW 2000/2001
WorkCover NSW, 2001a, Workers Compensation Statistics NSW2000101
WorkCover NSW, 1998 Health and safety for cleaners: Selecting the right mopping equipment
WorkCover NSW, 1995, BackWatch Industry Profile: Health, WorkCover NSW
0) WorkCover NSWCleaning Indusby Steering Committee
Report prepared by Health & sorely Matlenl Ply lid, February 2005
85
Catalogue No. 5006
\I\IorkCover NSW 92-100 Donnison Street Gosford NSW2250
locked Bag 2906 lisarow NSW2252 \I\IorkCover Assislance Service 13 10 50
\l\hIDsite www.workcover.nsw.gov.au
CCopyr!ttrt V'ibfi<C0Yer NSW 1106 V1.00

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