Kung fu cleaning

22nd of March 2018 Article by Lotte Printz
Kung fu cleaning

Slip and falls represent the majority of workplace accidents. In Sweden judo seems to be the weapon to fight them, thus making sure cleaners too “get a grip”. This from ECJ correspondent Lotte Printz.

”Slippery surface.” “Wet floor.” We are all familiar with the caution signs cleaners are so kind to put up for us in public places.

As slip-and-fall accidents are the most common and most serious workplace accidents, It wouldn’t be out of place if we put up some caution signs for the cleaners themselves.

In Sweden however, they are taking different measures to try to prevent these types of accidents. Late in January, which is generally known as the most slippery month of all in Sweden, it was announced the insurance company AFA Försäkring has joined forces with the Swedish Judo Federation to teach judo falling techniques to relevant staff in the labour market and this may benefit both cleaners and window cleaners alike. Both professions are in exposed positions when it comes to slip-and-fall accidents.

Recent statistics show there were 304 serious falls among Swedish cleaners and window cleaners in 2015. In comparison, there were “only” 51 among firefighter personnel.

Since 1974 AFA Försäkring has kept an injury registry and spends an annual 150 million Swedish kronor (approximately €15 million) on development and prevention, which now results in this alternative solution following in the wake of several preventative, more tangible steps that have been implemented in general work environment efforts in recent years to reduce the number of workplace slip-and-fall accidents.

Judo fighters are supposed to be able to fall hard without getting hurt and judo training should thus improve possibilities of protecting against serious injury. Judo will increase falling qualifications so to speak.

“Judo offers physical training of balance, explosive muscle strength and body awareness. If you know how to fall, you’ll be less afraid of falling, which again will lead to less muscle tension and thus less likelihood of falling,” says Kristiina Pekkola, spokesperson for the Swedish Judo Federation, in a press release.

Judo saw the light of day in Japan in 1884 and had a high status in the US in the early 20th century when president Theodore Roosevelt practised judo twice a week. The Swedish adopted the sport in 1948, but with its approximately 20,000 members in a country which has 240,000 registered football players it is small even today. The majority of judo fighters are children between the age of seven and 12, but now – with this unique project being introduced – working adults also get a chance to get to know and reap the fruits of this sport.

We’ll have to wait and see whether we’ll also hear cleaners in Sweden uttering Japanese judo terms at the end of a working day or whether a Zlatan Ibrahimovic of judo will emerge from the Swedish cleaning sector in the future. But the stakeholders are quite confident that this initiative will make a difference.

“Hopefully the falling techniques and workplace judo training will also help to improving workplace happiness and team building. And eventually reduce sick leave,” says Kristiina Pekkola. 
Singing the 1970s smash hit Kung Fu Fighting (replacing fighting with cleaning?) while wiping wet floors may lift the spirits even more!

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