30 January 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The British Cleaning Council is collaborating with the Health and Safety Executive Cleaning Industry Liaison Forum (CILF) to reduce injuries within the cleaning business.
The BCC is calling for its members to share information on musculoskeletal disorders and injuries suffered by cleaning sector colleagues in the workplace to identify problem areas.
The HSE is also raising awareness of the issue with employers as part of its 'Go Home Healthy' campaign.
The HSE defines musculoskeletal disorders as "any injury, damage or disorder of the joints or other tissues in the upper and lower limbs or the back".
Data suggests three-quarters of all ill-health within the cleaning sector is
related to musculoskeletal disorders and the sector has a slightly higher prevalence rate compared to the all industry average.
Over a three-year period between April 2015 and March 2018, there were 269 reports of lifting and handling injuries affecting workers in the cleaning sector.
The injury figures for the cleaning industry show:
The majority of injuries sustained were musculoskeletal - sprains and dislocations - which account for more than two-thirds of all injuries;
- Back injuries were the most common, closely followed by injuries to upper limbs;
- Injuries were most likely to occur while moving waste bags or emptying bins, making beds, carrying heavy items (such as furniture), moving linen cages and picking up cleaning materials;
- The injured person was usually either pushing/pulling something or lifting something; and
- Most of the injuries were sustained simply through the act of moving something.
Tracy Hamilton, operational policy advisor at the HSE and chair of the CILF, said: "Musculoskeletal disorders are associated with many different physical activities such as manual handling, repetitive tasks, muscular fatigue, load lifting, neck extension and awkward fixed postures.
"The solutions will be different for different businesses. It is important that employers understand what their particular workforce is doing so they can adopt the most effective approach. Introducing off-the-shelf manual handling training is well-intentioned but might not be the right answer for that business.
"That's why we are working across the industry, including with the BCC, to collect more information so we can understand the problem. We want to spread the word that these injuries are not inevitable but can be prevented."