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Janitors face high incidents of work-related injuries

The janitorial crews that clean offices, schools and hospitals work hard for their money. They often have long overnight shifts, and those who work during the day often have to steer clear of the students, workers and patients.

A study published last year by the University of California at Berkley is opening eyes across the country about the rate of workplace injuries for janitors. The study looked at the reasons behind the stunning statistics and found the main contributing factors.

Increasing workload

The research indicated that in 2015, a single janitor was responsible for cleaning between 50,000 and 60,000 sq. ft. an evening. One of the revelations indicates that it is not only the amount of space that needs cleaning but what fills the space that proves difficult. Cubicles, desks and equipment pack the floor space, which results in more bending, lifting and getting cleaning tools in and out of uncomfortable spaces.

Time of day worked

The study also revealed that 88 percent of janitors work overnight. Continuing this practice over long periods of time results in a change in the circadian rhythm of the body and brain. Often, these same people enjoy weekends awake during the day and sleeping at night. The transitions between sleeping and working at night can cause excessive exhaustion and mental strain.

Musculoskeletal impact

Being a janitor means moving for hours on end. Many of the study participants reported that the physicality of the job takes a major toll on feet, ankles and legs. The lower back is also deeply burdened by the constant bending, lifting and walking associated with the duties of janitorial staff.

Mental strain and stress also run high, mostly due to the three factors above. Adjusting sleep cycles constantly, dealing with increasing and challenging square footage, as well as the overall exhaustion the body faces are all issues janitors and cleaning crews face. Understanding and taking measures to avoid these things may help when it comes time to deal with incidents of workplace injuries.

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