At an era where we speak about robotic cleaning, much of the work even today is accomplished with tools and equipment operated by the cleaner or housekeeper or ‘a professional skilled worker’ or even the popular safai karamchari (municipal worker). Whether it is the humble broom or the telescopic pole, the grip over the handle, the lift and fall of the hand with every movement or the force laid on the shoulder and back during cleaning are all stressful. One of the largest segments employing cleaners/professional skilled workers is the facility services companies in India. How much and what kind of training is required to enable these workers to perform their job proficiently and less stressfully?
When the Swacch Bharat Mission was launched five years ago, citizens embraced the Clean India cause with enthusiasm. Newspapers and the internet were full of photographs of public figures as well as common people with the humble broom in their hands, bending to sweep their surroundings. But after the photos were clicked, how long do you think they would have been able to continue sweeping?
Those simple brooms and the old-fashioned ways of using them require people to bend at the waist and strain their backs, every time they move their brooms and probably take frequent breaks.
While volunteers have the opportunity to take breaks or give up, safaai karmchaaris and professional skilled workers of the facility service companies do not. Every day, they spend hours sweeping thousands of square feet of buildings and campuses to ensure that their occupants can live and work in a hygienic, pleasant environment. Many of them use equipment that requires them to assume positions of strain for long hours, or repeatedly perform a certain cleaning movement that stresses the same part of the body over and over again.
While manufacturers may design the most advanced cleaning machines, these technological wonders are only as effective as the worker operating them; and if the workers are unskilled or are deploying crude methods of operating mops or machines, it severely restricts their efficiency. No less important than efficiency is the health of workers themselves.
Clean India Journal spoke to Forbes Facility Services Pvt. Ltd and CLR Services Pvt. Ltd on the much-ignored training and supervision of cleaning workers on the right preparation, process, posture of operating on tools and machines.