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Research Collection

Asthma, chronic bronchitis, and exposure to irritant agents in occupational domestic cleaning: a nested case-control study. (Oct 20, 2009)

The aim of the study was to investigate common tasks and products in occupational domestic cleaning in relation to respiratory morbidity. A case-control study in domestic cleaning women nested within a large population based survey of women aged 30–65 years; 160 domestic cleaning women with asthma symptoms, chronic bronchitis symptoms, or both; and 386 without a history of respiratory symptoms were identified. Detailed exposures were evaluated for 40 cases who reported still having symptoms at the recruitment interview, and 155 controls who reported not having any symptoms. All tasks performed and products used were determined in a face-to-face interview. In domestic cleaning, women were associated with exposure to bleach and possibly other irritant agents. Associations between asthma, chronic bronchitis, and cleaning ex-posures were evaluated using multiple logistic regression analysis. Airborne chlorine and ammonia were detected during occupational domestic cleaning activities. Accidental inhalation of vapours and gases from cleaning agents and dish washing were also included. These associations were more pronounced for cases with asthmatic symptoms than for those with symptoms of chronic bronchitis, but were not related to sensitisation to common allergens.

Cleaning products and air fresheners: exposure to primary and secondary air pollutants. (Oct 20, 2009)

The article concerns primary emission and secondary pollutants formation of chemical substances present in several cleaning agents and air fresheners used in buildings. Building occupants, including cleaning personnel, are exposed to a wide variety of airborne chemicals when cleaning agents and air fresheners are used in buildings. In the article the compounds of concern are those listed as toxic air contaminants (TACs) or hazardous air polluants (HAPs) or California's Proposition 65. The aim of this article was to analyze and critically assess air pollutant exposures resulting from the use of cleaning products and air fresheners. Here, direct empirical evidence was combined with the basic principles of indoor pollutant behavior and information from relevant studies. The results shown that exposure to the pollutants depended on the complex interplay of many sets of factors and processes, including cleaning product composition, usage, building occupancy, emission dynamics, transport and mixing, building ventilation, sorptive interactions with building surfaces, and reactive chemistry.

Risk in cleaning: chemical and physical exposure (Oct 16, 2009)

This article gives an introduction to cleaning agents and describes the impact of cleaning on cleaners, but also on occupants of indoor environments and quality of cleaning. The cleaning agents are grouped into different categories (technical functions, purpose,…). Disinfectants are identified as the most hazardous group. The use of cleaning agents results in a temporal increase in the overall level of volatile organic compounds (VOC). This increase may occur during the cleaning process and thus can enhance the probability of increased short-term exposure of the cleaners. However, the increased levels can also be present after the cleaning and result in an overall increased VOC level that can possibly affect the indoor air quality (IAQ) perceived by occupants. The impact of cleaning agents also depend on certain circumstances: the duration of the use, the temperature, dry or wet cleaning, etc. Some building materials appear to increase their VOC emission through wet cleaning and thus may affect the IAQ. Particles and dirt also contain a great variety of both volatile and non-volatile substances, including allergens. The level of these substances can also be high immediately after the cleaning process, but few studies have been conducted concerning this problem. The paper also lists a variety of field sampling techniques for VOC and surface particle.

"Doing Cleaning Work `Scientifically': The Reorganization of Work in the Contract Building Cleaning Industry (Oct 16, 2009)

How is office cleaning work organised? Is cleaning work undergoing changes similar to those in other industries? This article looks into the organisation of office cleaning and assesses the changes compared to workplaces in other industries. It argues that the organisation of work has shifted from a 'traditional zone cleaning' approach driven by applying 'sientific management' to the reorganisation of cleaning processes.

Musculoskeletal ill health amongst cleaners and recommendations for work organisational change (Oct 07, 2009)

This article investigates the musculoskeletal health of UK cleaners. It focuses on cleaning work organisation and practices, as well as recommendations for supervisors and managers to work with cleaners to reduce health and workplace problems. Within this study questionnaire surveys of 1216 cleaners throughout the UK, 130 assessments of cleaning tasks and interviews with 38 cleaners at 9 workplaces were undertaken. Recommendations to groups of cleaning supervisors, managers, trainers, designers and manufacturers were presented.

Occupational exposures among domestic and industrial professional cleaners (Oct 01, 2008)

This qualitative study among 79 domestic and industrial cleaners aims to identify and characterize occupational exposures, symptoms and job tasks among domestic and industrial professional cleaners. The results show that domestic cleaners have significant deficits in terms of job training, knowledge regarding chemical exposure and use, and competence as compared to industrial cleaners. Domestic cleaners reported more frequent exposure to respiratory irritants and sensitizers and also reported adverse respiratory symptoms as compared to industrial cleaners. This is consistent with the findings from earlier quantitative studies placing domestic cleaners at risk of exposure to respiratory irritants and/or sensitizers.

Epidemiology of occupational injury among cleaners in the healthcare sector (Mar 19, 2008)

In the healthcare sector, cleaners have an elevated risk of occupational injury compared to other healthcare workers, according to a an epidemiological study in which the epidemiology of occupational injury among cleaners in healthcare settings in the Canadian province of British Columbia was investigated. The most common injury found in cleaners is musculoskeletal injury (MSI). Cleaners who have the highest risk of occupational injury are cleaners in acute care facilities (all injuries and in particular MSI and cuts), female cleaners (all injuries and in particular contusions), full-time cleaners and cleaners without experience. Cleaners with more than ten years of experience were at significantly lower risk for all types of injuries, contusions, allergy and irritation incidents.

Musculoskeletal risk factors in cleaning occupation - A literature review (Feb 01, 2008)

This literature study aims to identify problems, recommended practices and unresolved issues and to explore occupational needs related to cleaning problems. Both published and unpublished reports dealing with musculoskeletal disorders among cleaners were included. The study shows that cleaning is associated with high physical and psychosocial workloads. A model was used to present a systematic overview of recommended ergonomic interventions, useful for research and practical applications.

Cleaning time, protest time:employment and working conditions for hotel maids (Mar 01, 2007)

This article rather focuses on inequalities between female workers in both spheres of work and family. An analysis is provided of how working time and the company's position combine so as to produce inequalities among female wage-earners, assigning them heterogeneous statuses, and exposing some of them to precarious employment, working and living conditions. The study concentrates on chambermaids working part-time and full-time in the French subcontracting context of cleaning companies.

Differences in physical workload, psychosocial factors and musculoskeletal disorders between two groups of female hospital cleaners with two diverse organizational models (Jan 01, 2007)

The objective of this article was to clarify if differences in the physical workload, the psychosocial factors and in musculoskeletal disorders can be attributed to work organisational factors. The study compared two groups of female hospital cleaners: one group working in a traditional work organisation; and a second group working in an extended one (EO), i.e. with an enlarged work content and more responsibilities. The factors analysed were muscular activity, positions and movements of the head, job demand, social support, and disorders of the neck and upper extremity by a physical examination. The conclusion was that hospital cleaners have a high prevalence of neck and upper limb disorders and a high physical workload. Lower physical workload, more beneficial psychosocial factors and a better musculoskeletal health was found in the group with an extended organization.

Rhinitis and asthma symptoms in non-domestic cleaners from the São Paulo metropolitan area (Jan 01, 2007)

Exposure to cleaning products are often a symptom trigger for with work-related asthma. This study aims to estimate rhinitis and asthma symptoms prevalence and to analyse associated risk factors. About 341 cleaners were examinated. The results show that cleaning workers are at risk of contracting work-related asthma and/or rhinitis, and the risk increases with years of  employment in non-domestic cleaning.

Seroepidemiological study of viral hepatitis among workers of the Cleaning Department of the Municipality of Vyronas (Sep 26, 2006)

This epidemiological study was set up to detect the seroprevalence of viral hepatitis markers among people working at the Cleaning Department of the Municipality of Vyronas, Greece. Viral hepatitis is a global public health problem. Although recent data suggest that there has been a decline in viral hepatitis in Greece, workers of the cleaning departments of municipalities belong to the still high-risk group of professions (as well as healthcare workers, policemen, prostitutes, etc.). The report presents the preliminary results of this pilot study, organized by the first urban-type Health Centre in Greece.

Carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuropathy at the elbow in floor cleaners (Jul 01, 2006)

The occurence and severity of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and ulnar neuropathy (UNE) at the elbow were assessed in a group of female floor cleaners. The study indicate a high occurrence of CTS in floor cleaners. UNE was found to be less frequent than CTS, probably as a consequence of repetitive movements that stress wrists more than elbows. The only predictive factor of CTS found was cleaning as an occupation with previous employers. The actual risk factor for CTS would thus not be cleaning per se, but how this job is performed.

Cleaning up after globalization: an ergonomic analysis of work activity of hotel cleaners (Jun 01, 2006)

This study investigated how work intensification in hotels is changing the nature of cleaners' jobs. In particular, the numbers of operations to be completed, the numbers and weights of items to be cleaned, and the effort involved were found to have  increased. “Flexible” employment relationships and outsourcing were also found to increase cleaners' workloads.

Ergonomic Evaluation and Design of Tools in Cleaning Occupation (Jun 01, 2006)

Many work and environmental factors can affect the health of professional cleaners. In many work environments where cleaners work, the causes of work-related diseases such as musculoskeletal disorders can be eliminated with relatively simple interventions. The primary goal of this research work was to study existing cleaning work processes, cleaning tools, working environments and psychosocial aspects of the cleaning work. The study concludes that cleaning job consists of high cardiovascular, muscular and postural load. A participatory ergonomic approach and user-centered design was found to be useful to identify problems and find solutions, including regarding the ergonomics of cleaning equipment. Such a participatory strategy with regards to ergonomics in cleaning activities can significantly contribute to reduce work-related ill health, absenteism, and the subsequent costs while resulting in a high quality of work and greater job satisfaction among the cleaning staff.

The occurrence and course of skin symptoms on the hands among female cleaners (Apr 11, 2006)

Skin symptoms on the hands were studied in questionnaire-based studies conducted in 1989 and 1991 among female cleaners employed at Danish nursing homes, schools and offices.  Retirement occurred more often among cleaners with skin symptoms than among the others.

Short-term respiratory effects of cleaning exposures in female domestic cleaners. (Feb 19, 2006)

The article presents the results of an investigation of short-term effects of cleaning exposures on respiratory symptoms and peak expiratory flow (PEF) in domestic cleaners with respiratory disorders. In a panel study, 43 female domestic cleaners with a recent history of asthma and/or chronic bronchitis completed a 2-week diary, collecting information on respiratory symptoms, PEF and cleaning exposures. Mixed regression models were used to assess daily changes in symptoms and PEF associated with specific cleaning exposures. Lower respiratory tract symptoms were more common on working days and were predominantly associated with exposure to diluted bleach, degreasing sprays/atomisers and air fresheners. Associations with upper respiratory tract symptoms and PEF were less apparent. 30% of subjects scored positively for work-related asthma. It was concluded that exposure to certain irritant cleaning products aggravates lower respiratory tract symptoms in female domestic cleaners with asthma or chronic bronchitis.

Cleaning activities and slip and trip accidents in NHS acute trusts - a scoping study (Jan 01, 2006)

This research report by the UK Health and Safety Laboratory investigates in how far cleaning operations can contribute to slip and trip accidents. Employees of five National Health System (NHS) Acute Trusts were interviewed in order to gain insight into the levels of awareness of the impact of cleaning on slips and trips experienced by housekeeping, supervisory and cleaning staff; the factors that impact on the number of slips and trips; how cleaning procedures, techniques and materials are specified and monitored; and the interventions that could help reduce the number of slips and trips in hospitals.

Physiological, subjective and postural loads in passenger train wagon cleaning using a conventional and redesigned cleaning tool (Oct 01, 2005)

In this study, cleaning processes and in particular cleaning tools were studied. Oxygen consumption, heart rate, perceived exertion and postural data were monitored for 13 professional cleaners while performing their normal tasks. The perceived exertion during cleaning task using the “redesigned cleaning tool” was lower than when using the “conventional cleaning tool”. Indeed, the redesigned cleaning tool allowed cleaners to maintain more upright posture when cleaning, which reduced biomechanical load.

Work-related pain and injury and barriers to workers' compensation among las vegas hotel cleaners (Mar 01, 2005)

The study examines the prevalence of work-related pain and injury and explored barriers to and experiences of reporting among workers. The researchers studied 941 unionized hotel room cleaners about work-related pain, injury, disability, and reporting. It was concluded that during the last year, 75% of workers experienced work-related pain, 31% reported it to management. 20% filed a claim in order to receive workers’ compensation as a result of work-related injury, and 35% of these claims were denied. Barriers to reporting injury included "It would be too much trouble" (43%), "I was afraid" (26%), and "I didn’t know how" (18%). Aproximately 69% of medical costs were shifted from employers to workers.

World at work: Aircraft cabin cleaning (Jan 01, 2005)

Aircraft cabin cleaning is characterised by a high concentration of physical activities in time and space that are not fully under the direct control of the service providers and their workers. Airline companies usually contract out cabin cleaning to aircraft services companies. The article describes the occupational health aspects and main hazards of aircraft cabin cleaning at Hong Kong International Airport.

Participatory Ergonomics and an Evaluation of a Low-Cost Improvement Effect on Cleaners’ Working Posture (Jan 01, 2005)

Cleaning is a highly physically demanding job with a high frequency of awkward postures and working environments as contributing risk factors. The aim of this study was to apply the participatory ergonomics method to identify cleaning problems and to evaluate the effect of a low-cost improvement on cleaners’ working postures in an office environment. Once the problem was identified, a low-cost ergonomics solution suggested by the cleaners was implemented which led to a reduction in the number of awkward cleaning postures as well as to a lower Ovako Working Posture Analysis System (OWAS) action category for floor mopping. It was concluded that working in an improved environment can lead to better working postures which, in turn, leads to the cleaners’ better health and better cleaning results.

Characteristics of wet work in the cleaning industry (Sep 01, 2004)

By means of a continuous standardized observation performed by trained observers, the burden of wet work in office cleaning could be quantified. About 41 office cleaners were observed for this research project. They learned that wet work makes up 50% of the work done by office cleaners.Based on the results of the observation, office cleaning could be determined as wet work. As a result these cleaners are at risk of developing occupational contact dermititis which is mainly caused by wet work in the cleanng industry.

Oplossingen voor fysieke belasting in de industriële reiniging en het scheepsonderhoud (Jan 27, 2004)

In dit onderzoek zijn technische hulpmiddelen onderzocht die bij kunnen dragen aan het verminderen van de fysieke belasting in de industriële en scheepsreiniging. Twee types van maatregelen werden onderzocht. Maatregelen die het bedrijf zelf kan toepassen en maatregelen die het bedrijf samen met de opdrachtgever moet nemen. Er werden per maatregel passende oplossingen geïnventariseerd en onderzocht en er werd een kosten/batenanalyse van iedere oplossing gemaakt.

This study investigates the possible technical resources available that could contribute to the reduction of physical loads during industrial cleaning and cleaning in shipping industry. Two types of measures have been examined: measure that can be applied by the company itself and measures that the company has to undertake in collaboration with the contractor. The study inventories adequate solutions and calculated the cost-benefits of every solution.

Asthma symptoms in women employed in domestic cleaning: a community based study. (Jan 01, 2003)

This article presents the results of an asthma risk assessment in women employed in domestic cleaning. A cross-sectional study was conducted using a postal questionnaire with telephone follow up in 4,521 women aged 30 to 65 years, where 593 women were currently employed in domestic cleaning work. The results showed that asthma was more prevalent in the domestic cleaning workers group (593 women) than in women who had never worked in cleaning. It results in a statement that cleaning may induce or aggravate asthma. Former domestic cleaning work was reported by 1,170 women and was strongly associated with asthma, while current and former non-domestic cleaning work was not significantly associated with asthma.

Innovation trajectories and employment in the cleaning industry (Jul 01, 2002)

The cleaning industry is undergoing important changes in scope and complexity and increasing use of information technologies. This article analyses the various innovation trajectories which apply to the cleaning industry and links these to the employment structure in the sector.

Health and Working Conditions of Hotel Guest Room Attendants in Las Vegas (Jun 15, 2002)

This report describes initial results of a study of working conditions, health, and quality of life of hotel guest room attendants in the hospitality industry of Las Vegas.The hospitality industry has experienced a wave of restructuring and new practices to cut costs, including lean staffing and greater performance demands while constantly upgrading services in a competitive environment. The research project explores the impact of these and related changes on the health and quality of life of hotel room cleaners, who represent the largest occupational group within the hospitality industry.

Stomach cancer and occupation in Sweden: 1971–89 (Jan 01, 2002)

The study examined the relation between the occurence of gastric cancer and occupation in men as well as in women. The study found interesting results found for women, whose occupational risks have been studied less. Excess risks were found for housekeeping and cleaning workers, practical nurses, cashiers, bank employees, engineering and electronic industry workers, food industry. Amon women, one of the occupations with increased risk is cleaning. Among men, occupations with increased risk included miners and quarrymen, construction and metal processing workers, supporting the possible causative role of dusty environments in stomach cancer. In men, the results also provide support for increased risks among electrical and mechanical engineers, fishermen, petrol station workers, motor vehicle drivers, butchers and meat preparers, dockers, freight handlers, launderers and dry cleaners.

Dynamic loads on the upper extremities during two different floor cleaning methods (Dec 01, 2001)

The aim of the study was to assess the mechanical loading of the upper extremities during floor cleaning performed with different techniques. This was done with a comparative study of six subjects performing floor cleaning with two different techniques (mopping and scrubbing) in a laboratory setting. Although mopping and scrubbing involve different patterns of movements, the moments of force found were quite similar.  In terms of prevention this could mean that changing the cleaning tool may not be sufficient to reduce the load on the shoulder muscles.

At work in spite of pain : Prevention and rehabilitation in two predominantly female workplaces, their effects and further development of analysis methods (Apr 25, 2001)

The aim of the thesis was to study the effects of preventive and rehabilitative interventions for employees at work despite pain at predominantly female workplaces, and further development of analysis methods. The study had two intervention groups and two non-randomised reference groups. Hospital cleaners and home-helps were selected as intervention and reference groups for the empirical studies. The hospital cleaners' intervention programme comprised occupational organisational measures, competence development, physical and psychosocial working environmental and rehabilitation measures on both an individual and a group basis. The home-help's programme comprised a 2-week stay at an orthopaedic rehabilitation unit, training of supervisors, massage by colleagues, purchase of training equipment and stress management. The intervention lasted 12 months for the hospital cleaners and 8 months for the home-helps. These particular interventions gave only moderate outcomes. The validity of the intervention effects is discussed, together with the importance of matching the intervention measures to the needs at the workplaces.

Ergonomics considerations in the design and use of single disc floor cleaning machines (Aug 10, 1999)

This study investigated ergonomics issues connected with the use of single-disc floor cleaning machines (buffers/polishers).
Interviews and questionnaire surveys of users and other groups such as maintenance personnel, purchasing managers, and manufacturer representatives were carried out in order to gain insight into the problems related to the machine use.
A notable proportion of users (56%) reported discomfort from machine use, mostly of musculoskeletal origin. The main locations of pains were hand (39%), shoulder (19%), wrist (7%), lower back (7%) and arm (6%). The problems identified were the design and configuration of the handle/operating-switch and problems due to the trailing power cable, along with manual handling implications due to machine size and weight. The conclusion was that there is a need to improve the current designs of such work equipment.

Occupational Exposures and Asthma in Domestic Cleaning Women (May 30, 2015)

The main objective of this study was to investigate relationships between occupational exposure and asthma in cleaning workers, with a special emphasis on domestic cleaning workers.

Migrant workers in England and Wales: An assessment of migrant worker health and safety risks (May 30, 2015)

This research has aimed to uncover who these workers are, their countries of origin and
where they are working. But its primary aim has been to establish whether there are
specific or general risks to their health and safety; whether their situation as migrants
means they are at increased risk, in comparison with other workers in similar positions;
and whether consequently there are measures that could be recommended that would
improve their work situation, from a health and safety perspective.

EU hotel and restaurant sector: Work and employment conditions. (May 30, 2015)

This report provides a snapshot of working conditions in the EU hotel and restaurant sector. It highlights the trends and examines the issues of concern. The report is based on analyses of working conditions and quality of work and employment issues in this sector in the 15 Member States. Aimed at the industry itself and policy makers. Findings include the large number of younger workers and migrants in the sector. It also refers to cleaners in the sector.