Whether you’re spring cleaning or simply doing a little polishing, you’re always at risk of injury. However, you can minimise this risk by taking some simple precautions.
There are many causes of cleaning-related injuries, but most are down to using the wrong tools, tiredness or simple human error. While the most common injuries relate to the back, shoulder, neck and legs, injury can strike just about anywhere — at any time.
Take the following precautions next time you do some serious cleaning, and you can reduce the risk of injury significantly.
1. Warm up your muscles
If you were to go to a spinning or aerobics class, the instructor would have you warming up in order to prevent strains, pulls and tears. As many cleaning jobs are quite hard on the body, you should follow a similar warm-up routine. Take a brisk walk around the block, and move your head, neck and shoulders as you go. Or if you know how, do a full warm-up routine — as if you’re about to work out in the gym.
2. Take extra time and care in difficult areas
If you’re cleaning awkward areas — particularly those at height — you should always take a little extra time and care. Use a ladder or stool is necessary, and plan your movements in advance. Don’t stretch in a way that is uncomfortable or that puts you off balance. If you’re struggling, think of another way.
3. Ask for help
The bigger or more awkward jobs often need at least two people to be performed safely. This might be a simple case of asking someone to hold a ladder while you clean it. Or it might involve carrying some furniture before vacuuming. If you’re not comfortable doing something alone, ask for help — and get one with something else in the meantime.
4. Follow basic manual lifting guidelines
If you have to lift something heavy, you should first determine whether it’s safer to ask for help. If you’re going it alone, check the route you’re about to take for tripping hazards first. Stand with your feet a shoulder’s width apart, keep your back straight and bend with your knees. Finally, keep what you’re carrying close to your body until you put it down.
5. Dry spills immediately
If you’re cleaning floors, there’s always a risk of slipping to contend with. To minimise this risk, use as little water as possible. And when you notice spillages, clean them up with towels immediately. To reduce the amount of water you use to clean your floors, use a powerful steam mop — which delivers superheated steam whilst leaving floors relatively dry afterwards.
6. Break cleaning jobs down into smaller chunks
If you’re attempting a major cleaning job, simply flying in without a plan of action could be a recipe for disaster. Instead, break the job down into smaller, more manageable chunks — and tackle one at a time.
7. Protect your knees
A lot of cleaning jobs will require you to sit down or kneel. However, doing so for prolonged periods can put a huge strain on your knees. Kneel on cushions, but try to spend as little time as possible in the kneeling position.
8. Listen to your body
Rigorous cleaning is a workout of its own, so don’t be surprised if you start to feel a few aches and pains. Never continue working through the pain barrier, as this could make relatively small injuries much worse. If you’re shoulders are aching, take a break or find a new way to complete the job at hand.
Cleaning can be tough on the body, so make your own health a priority. After all, if you get badly injured, you won’t be doing any cleaning for quite some time.