Custodial Equipment

Custodians and Housekeepers are exposed to a variety of ergonomic risk factors and have a high risk of injury. Equipment and procedures that reduce or eliminate bending, lifting, and other awkward postures are key components to reducing injuries in these physically demanding areas. UCLA Insurance & Risk Management-Ergonomics partnered with the Facilities Management - Custodial & Grounds, Housing and Hospitality - Rooms & Maintenance Division, and Associated Students UCLA to assess risk factors and evaluate equipment needs.

Equipment criteria assist decision-makers in selecting commonly used custodial and housekeeping equipment. The goal of the criteria is to reduce the risk of injury. Criteria were established through a comprehensive review of equipment specifications, direct observation, and analysis of work environments, as well as consultation with supervisors, staff, and vendors.

A thoughtful selection of equipment has multiple steps. Decision-makers should review the following considerations.
 

Equipment

  • Include a variety of perspectives in the selection process. This includes staff, supervisors, and subject matter experts (manufacturer, safety and ergonomic specialist)
  • Arrange for demonstration of the product by the manufacturer.
  • Pilot the preferred equipment for a minimum two–week trial period.

Pilot

During the pilot period, consider the following:

  • Space: Area(s) where the equipment will be used. Is it appropriate for the size of the space and will there be doorways, obstacles, or furniture to navigate?
  • Surfaces: Type of flooring the machine will be used on. Is the machine appropriate for the particular type of surface? Is it adaptable to different types of surfaces?
  • Users: The physical characteristics of the end-users. Is the unit adaptable to be used by different height users? 
  • Ease of use: How difficult is it to use the machine? Is there a steep learning curve? Are the controls easy to access and are they intuitive?
  • Storage: The unit will need to be stored somewhere. Is there storage space in an existing custodial closet?
  • Portability: The ease by which a user can get the equipment to the job site. Is there elevator access?
  • Maintenance: Ease of maintenance. Is a special tool needed for regular field and daily maintenance?
  • Power: Access to power. Units can be corded or battery-powered. Are there outlets available? Is the cord long enough? Is the battery capable of lasting the entire shift on a single charge?
  • Noise and Vibration: Are noise or vibration an issue where the unit will be used? Are equipment operators exposed to hand-arm or whole body vibration? 
  • Testing and Feedback: Demo the product. What was the users’ feedback on the unit after trying in the work environment?

Training

Training on the proper use of equipment should be provided upon initial use and annually thereafter. Training is best provided in small groups with the involvement of supervisors, leads, ergonomists, and vendors.

Training should include:

  • Hands-on performance of job tasks and related activities.
  • Proper equipment use, maintenance, storage, safety procedures, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as required.
  • Instruction in proper body mechanics.
  • Verbal, written, and illustrative materials to accommodate non-English speaking workers.

Staffing Guidelines

Staffing guidelines ensure that employees are adequately trained and assigned reasonable workloads. Guidelines include:

  • Staff levels that provide adequate coverage to complete assigned work tasks in the time desired.
  • Cross-training to allow for job rotation as needed.
  • Staff levels to avoid overtime.
  • Backup staffing to accommodate unplanned absences.
  • Use of task and job rotation to limit repetition and fatigue.
  • Use of teams for heavy lifting and moving tasks.
  • Pre-shift exercises to warm up muscles to prepare for work.
  • Frequent rest breaks.
  • Implementation and support of a work hazard notification system to identify problems such as excessive weight in trash containers.

Criteria

  • Carpet Cleaners and Extractors
  • Minimum Criteria
    Extractors: Provides good suction ≥ 93 CFM
    Power cord ≥ 25’
    Pads and brushes are easy to remove/replace
    If Walk-Behind: Self-propelled
    If not Walk-Behind: ≥ 15’ hose w/wand with bend or S-curve
    Easy to fill and empty tanks
     
    Preferred Criteria

    Capable of cleaning close to walls and in corners
    Built-in/optional hose and wand (for ride-on/large walk behind)
    Height-adjustable handle or steering column  
  • Carts
  • Minimum Criteria
    Height of handle from floor: 36” - 38”
    Outfitted with spring-loaded lift or side cut-out with removable closures or straps

    Preferred Criteria

    • Motorized tug adapter: For use with various tugs; carts must have 2-swivel and 2-rigid casters
    • Durable construction: Tear, puncture, and abrasion-resistant material
  • Floor Machines
  • Buffers and burnishers

    Walk-behind

    Minimum Criteria
    If Corded: Cord Length ≥ 50’. If Battery Powered: Battery Life ≥ 3 hr, Charging Time ≤ 4 hr
    Pads and brushes are easy to remove/replace

    Preferred Criteria

    Adjustable height brush pad for different surface heights
    Capable of cleaning close to walls and in corners
    Height adjustable steering wheel or handle
    Folding handles for storage, transportation
    High-efficiency filtration. (e.g. HEPA or similar)

    Scrubbers

    Ride-on

    Minimum Criteria
    Battery Life ≥ 5 hr, Charging Time ≤ 4 hr
    Adjustable brush rollers for different surface heights
    Pads and brushes are easy to remove or replace
    Sweepers: Easy to remove and replace bags
    Scrubbers: Easy to fill and empty tanks

    Preferred Criteria
    Capable of cleaning close to walls and in corners
    Detachable accessories: hoses/wands          
    High-efficiency filtration. (e.g. HEPA or similar)
  • Mopping Systems
  • Automated Mopping Systems

    Minimum Criteria
    • Cleaning path ≥ 18"
    • If Corded: Power cord ≥ 25’.
    • If Battery Powered: Battery life ≥ 45 min / Charge time ≤ 5 hr

    Preferred Criteria
    • Battery Life ≥ 60 min
    • Attached training component

    Traditional Mopping systems

    Minimum Criteria
    • Four 3” swivel casters
    • Dual bucket - e.g. clean/dirty buckets
    • Wringers: Down-press handle with a bent handle
    • Wringers: Plastic single-piece construction

    Preferred Criteria
    • Buckets with bottom drains
  • No-Touch Cleaning Systems
  • Minimum Criteria
    If Corded: Power cord ≥ 25’.  If Battery Powered: Battery life ≥ 45 min/Charge time ≤ 5 hr
    2 rear wheels and 2 swivel wheels in front allow for easy maneuverability
    Small to med areas ≥ 12 gal
    Large areas: ≥ 17 gal
    Storage attachment to hold brushes, poles, and hoses
    Adjustable water pressure levels
    Water hose ≥ 30’

    Preferred Criteria

    Dilution capability for chemicals
    Attached training component
  • Sweepers
  • Minimum Criteria
    If Corded: Cord Length ≥ 50’.
    If Battery Powered: Battery Life ≥ 40min/Charging Time ≤ 2 hr
    Pads and brushes are easy to remove/replace

    Preferred Criteria

    Capable of cleaning close to walls and in corners
    Height adjustable handle/Steering column
    Folding handle for storage/transportation
    Attached hose/wand
  • Trash Collectors
  • Minimum Criteria
    • 2 Rear wheels and 1-2 Front swivel wheels
    • Height of sides 38”- 43” from floor
    • Fits through 32" wide doorways

    Preferred Criteria
    • Venting channels to allow for easy removal of trash
  • Vacuums
  • Backpack Vacuums

    Minimum Criteria
    Provides good suction ≥ 58 CFM
    Overall weight: Corded ≤ 12lbs. Battery Powered ≤ 18lbs
    If Corded: Cord length ≥ 50’
    If Battery Powered: Battery life ≥ 45 min, Charge Time ≤ 2 hrs
    Adjustable back straps
    High-efficiency filtration. (e.g. HEPA or similar)

    Preferred Criteria

    Available wall-mounted, “mounting-station” option
    Telescoping wand attachment

    Large Area Vacuums

    Walk-Behind

    Minimum Criteria
    Provides good suction ≥ 90 CFM
    Power cord ≥ 50’
    Adjustable brush rollers for different surfaces and carpet heights
    2 Drive Wheels and 2 swivel wheels in front to allow for easy maneuverability
    Working width ≥ 20”
    Easy to service and maintain – bags are easy to replace and serviceable parts are minimal and easy to access

    Preferred Criteria

    Magnet in front to catch paper clips or other metal objects
    High-efficiency filtration (e.g. HEPA or similar)
    Height adjustable handle
    Built-in hose and wand
    Auto adjustable brush rollers for different carpet heights

    Stand on

    Minimum Criteria
    Battery Life ≥ 5 hr/Charging Time ≤ 4 hr
    Adjustable brush rollers for different surface heights
    Pads and brushes are easy to remove/replace
    Easy to remove and replace bags

    Preferred Criteria

    Capable of cleaning close to walls and in corners
    Detachable accessories: hoses/wands          
    High-efficiency filtration. (e.g. HEPA or similar)

    Upright Vacuums

    Minimum Criteria
    Provides good suction ≥ 90 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)
    Weight ≤ 20lbs
    If Corded: Cord length ≥ 30’.
    If Battery Powered: Battery life ≥ 50 min, Charge Time ≤ 2 hrs
    Manually adjustable brush rollers for different carpet heights
    Ability to tilt back on 2 wheels for easy maneuverability
    Brush roller working width ≥ 12”
    Built-in hose and wand
    Easy to service and maintain – Bags are easy to replace and serviceable parts are minimal and easy to access
    High-efficiency filtration (e.g. HEPA or similar)

    Preferred Criteria

    Magnet in front to catch paper clips or other metal objects
    Auto-adjustable brush rollers for different surfaces
    Height-adjustable handle
    Lie flat capability

    Wet-Dry Vacuums

    Minimum Criteria
    Provides good suction ≥ 100 CFM
    Power cord ≥ 20’
    Curved wand
    2 drive wheels and 2 swivel wheels in front allow for easy maneuverability
    Easy to service and maintain – bags are easy to replace and serviceable parts are minimal and easy to access

    Preferred Criteria
    High-efficiency filtration (e.g. HEPA or similar)

Acknowledgments 

Thank you to Associated Students UCLA, Environment Health and Safety, Facilities Management, and Housing & Hospitality for contributing to this project. The support of numerous staff and managers made this project possible.

Eduardo Ambrosio
Gumercindo Ayala
Richard Bardales
Haley Binder

Wanda Collier
Amanda Cruz
Beka Douglas

Alexander Eckrich
Edwin Franco
Erika Fujitani
Gerardo Guzman
Kathleen Guzman
Devin Ko
Dennis Lee

Lizett Martinez
Andreea Mucenic
Beatriz Mora
Danielle Nau 
Alexandra Norris
Laarni Pacada
Hector Perez

Maria Perez
Fabiola Quezada
Jose Rodriguez

Cecil Rucker
Patricia Solomon

Justin Wisor
Barbara Woods

Conflict of Interest: Per UCLA Policy 150 the catalog content is meant to enhance UCLA's mission of teaching, research and public service. UCLA Ergonomics does not receive any financial benefit, actual or perceived, from individuals associated with suppliers or manufacturers of the products listed in the catalog.   
For questions or corrections please email contact@ergonomics.ucla.edu