Mop ‘til you drop

23rd of September 2013
Mop ‘til you drop

Mopping is an arduous task and one that can take its toll on the arms, backs and shoulders of the operator. A look at the latest and most ergonomic mopping systems that have been designed with operator comfort in mind.

Mopping can be one of the most fatiguing of cleaning tasks. The manual act of mopping often requires the operator to stoop, repeatedly bend their arms and push heavy equipment across large surface areas.

A recent study by the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work found that mopping systems with unsuitable mop heights, an uncomfortable grip or heavy, unstable buckets are a common cause of musculoskeletal complaints.

Cleaning in general is a highly physical occupation and the number of work-related conditions among cleaners is higher than that of the average wage earner, according to the three-year study.
In order to be sustainable, companies therefore need to provide a safe working environment for their staff and prevent any unnecessary aches, pains or more serious muscular problems. And all companies will recognise the need for keeping their labour force healthy – which will in turn ensure the health of their bottom line.

So good mopping manufacturers will do their utmost to provide ergonomic mopping systems for their customers and ultimately for the end-user.

All Vermop systems have been developed to make life easier for the operator according to product manager Petra Schmitt. “We produce lightweight mopping systems with an eye on function for good cleaning results and ergonomic purposes,” she said. “We also focus on design. With well-designed functions and a good visual appearance the operator can work in a more professional way.”

Vermop offers a wide range of floor cleaning systems. “They work in different ways; the height-adjustable handles facilitate working on stairs and cleaning under furniture,” said Schmitt. “They are also easy to adjust so that every cleaning operative can work ergonomically at the right height.”

She claims that the company’s mopping systems are designed to be highly productive to reduce the amount of time that the cleaner spends using them. “With our Mag Twixter, Twixter and Twix double-mop systems the operative can clean double the floor space before they need to change the mop,” said Schmitt. “The mop heads can also be attached while the cleaning operative is standing upright and can then be detached again without them having to bend down to pick up the mop.”

Crucial factor

She says ergonomics are a crucial factor in any mopping system and that operator-friendliness is the company’s main criterion when developing a mop. “This has not changed over the years,” said Schmitt. “The Twixter system was developed years ago and is known in the market for being ergonomic and operator-friendly. All Vermop mopping systems are developed in conjunction with the operator and this makes them completely tailored to their needs.”

The latest mopping system from Vermop is the Mag system in which the mop and holder are combined by means of magnets. “Ergonomic mopping systems will improve the cleaning operator’s health and therefore improve productivity,” said Schmitt. “Our mopping systems ensure the operator does not become tired which means they can stay both committed and concentrated for a longer time. “

International sales manager of Crisp Clean Services Judy Toes agrees ergonomics are vital from an operator comfort point of view while also improving productivity. She claims the company’s i-Press – an adjustable flat mop roller press - is both lightweight and easily transported. “Our Ringo and Hytech flat mopping presses also have either built-in mechanisms or a foot operation to minimise the force required by the operator,” she adds.

According to Toes the company also offers ergonomic accessories for its mops. “Our mop handles are height-adjustable and the stainless steel mop frame allows the operator to attach and change mops quickly and with ease.”

3M claims its Easy Trap Duster system makes the task of mopping easier for the operator since it takes minimal effort to trap the dirt. The system consists of a non-woven duster on a perforated roll that can be used in conjunction with a traditional mop or with the company’s own 3M Easy Trap Duster Holder.

“The user simply unrolls what he or she needs and breaks it off at the perforations,” said European market development manager Richard Jones. “The material is slightly sticky which means it holds the dirt and dust really well.”

The Easy Trap Duster is said to hold six times the dust, dirt and sand as traditional mops while also being easy to push. “It doesn’t create any drag which means there is less strain on the operator and productivity is increased,” said Jones. “Big mops create a great deal of drag and can be heavy to push around – which means cleaning a floor can feel like a workout.”

The system is aimed at contract cleaners and can be used in office blocks and shopping precincts. “It is often used in hotel en suites as well since it is good at picking up hairs from bathroom floors,” said Jones.

He says ergonomics are of key importance in a mopping system. “I think anything that makes the job easier and reduces stress and strains on the part of the user – without compromising performance - has got to be good,” he said. “It is the responsible thing to do to make the cleaner’s life easier and it shouldn’t be beyond the skill of the manufacturers to keep the user in mind.

“You can bring out a product that improves productivity but if the user doesn’t like it, he or she will avoid using it.”

IPC Euromop also offers a dust-collecting product designed with user comfort in mind. The Fasty system has a metal handle with an ergonomic grip that is said to make the unit easy to transport while ensuring the operator holds his or her back in the correct position.

“The mopping business today requires functional products that are also convenient, easy to clean and durable,” said the company’s marketing officer Serena Cazzola.

IPC Ready Systems president Michele Redi says the company’s latest mopping product - the One system – has been specifically designed to make life easier for the operator.

Operator posture

“We launched it with the slogan: ‘one for all and all for one’ because one frame does the work of five different frames,” he said. “The One can be used with various mop replacements including pockets mops, Velcro-backed mops and impregnated disposable cloths for dusting. The shape of the product adapts it to fit pockets mops and it also has two plastic levers from which to hang the flat mops. And it has four Velcro strips to allow Velcro-backed mops to be attached.”

He claims the product has been made with a lightweight 400 gm frame but without compromising on the quality of materials. “Ergonomics are very important in mopping systems and the posture of the operator will often depend on the tool and mop they are using,” said Redi.

Microfibre mop heads to be used with the One mop can be attached and removed without the operator having to bend his or her back. “Microfibre mop heads are lighter than conventional mops and they also slide more easily across the floor, resulting in less fatigue on the part of the operator,” said Redi. “In terms of safety, microfibre mops also leave the floor less wet which increases the safety of the area just cleaned.”

He says today’s customers consider several different factors besides user-friendliness when choosing a mopping system. “Customers want to hold as little stock as possible and the One system helps them to do this since they can carry out many different cleaning tasks - even on vertical surfaces – using only one type of frame.”

Redi adds that operator-friendliness is crucial when developing mopping products. “In our opinion there is no other way to be successful in today’s very competitive market.”

Managing director of Hygienteknik Stefan Johansson says studies show that an ergonomic mopping system can reduce the number of days a cleaner is absent by 10 per cent. He claims the company’s Activa Method Control mop to be an example of such a system.

“The adjustable handle is made from lightweight glass fibre which, unlike metal, will not be cold to the touch in winter which is an added advantage,” he said. “The handle is also 29 mm thick which means that the operator’s blood pressure will not be affected when he or she squeezes the handle.”

He adds the system avoids the need for mop wringers and also prevents the operator from having to fill up or lift water-filled buckets several times per day. “It can be prepared in advance for up to eight hours’ cleaning with up to 60 mops.”

He says the Activa Flexi Move mop frame is flexible and the operator can adjust the handle connector to the side with a slide effect. “This means the operator does not need to bend or lean to clean under surfaces.”

According to Johansson the company has carried out tests that show a cleaning contractor can save around 120 working hours per year  - based on eight hours per day – using the Activa Method Control compared with traditional systems.

“Cleaning contractors are coming under increasing pressure to be more cost-effective to win contracts,” he said. “This means that many will go up a size in mopping systems from 40 cm to 60 cm and from 60 cm to 75 cm or even 90 cm.

“I therefore think we will see a fast growing trend for lightweight, ergonomic frames and disposable mops that they can use either damp or dry.”


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