power equipment be ergonomically designed to minimize vibration, noise and user fatigue.
Minneapolis (Vocus) April 28, 2009
A study conducted by an independent testing organization has determined that ergonomic design of backpack vacuums plays a critical role in increasing worker productivity and reducing fatigue and repetitive stress injuries. Conducted for Advance, a world leader in the manufacture of high quality commercial and industrial floor maintenance equipment, the study focused on the benefits of backpack vacuums in the commercial cleaning industry. There, backpack vacuums are favored for their superior mobility, low maintenance and high productivity - especially when used to clean around many physical obstacles.
In fact, in field tests, the cleaning rate for backpack vacuums was 3.25 times greater than for upright vacuums at the same level of energy expenditure when cleaning around desks, chairs and cubicles in facilities such as offices and schools.
As with any type of power equipment, the overall design of the unit can have a significant impact on the operator's performance in the field. Since a backpack vacuum is a piece of equipment that the operator wears, the total weight, weight distribution, sound level, harness comfort and air discharge direction can impact operator fatigue, overall cleaning effectiveness, productivity and the potential for repetitive stress injuries. Also, the impact on workers of using poorly designed cleaning equipment cannot be underestimated. With a cleaning workforce of over 2 million people in the U.S. alone, cleaning equipment needs to be ergonomically designed to minimize risk of injury.
Standard-setting organizations within the cleaning industry have not set specific ergonomic standards for backpack vacuums, but they do recognize the importance of such design. The green cleaning guidelines published in the LEED-EB rating system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - for Existing Buildings) recommends that "power equipment be ergonomically designed to minimize vibration, noise and user fatigue." However, except for noise level (a maximum of 70 dB(A) for any vacuum), LEED leaves it to equipment manufacturers to interpret the design specifics and only encourages manufacturers to design equipment that is ergonomic.
While most commercially available backpack vacuums meet the noise standard, there are differences among various designs which can affect issues of comfort, fatigue and productivity. All three of these issues impact the cleaning effectiveness as well as the productivity of individual operators. Based, in part, on an independent study of backpack vacuums by Sweden's Två Ergonomer testing bureau, this paper will analyze how various backpack vacuum design elements impact operators and productivity.
NOTE: To download the complete 1,750-word white paper and high-resolution graphics, go to: http://www.cccinc.com/pr/advcomm/xpfeatures .
Advance is a brand of Nilfisk-Advance, one of the world's leading manufacturers of high-quality commercial and industrial floor maintenance equipment. For more information on Advance products and research studies, call 763-745-3500 or visit http://www.advance-us.com .