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Lightening the load

Pushing trolleys filled with all the equipment housekeepers need can take its toll. Here we look at innovations helping to make the job easier

Those who witnessed the competitive trolley dash at Hospitality Expo know how speedy our housekeepers can be. Not that any would be able – or want for that matter – to fly along actual hotel corridors like our competitors did! More seriously, it reminded us that for all our stamina and determination, easy to manoeuvre trolleys and carts are essential in our daily working lives.

We welcome the fact that more and more hotels are looking for new solutions to create optimum working conditions for employees, to minimise the burden of the required tasks and to protect their staff’s health. After all, the Health & Safety Executive reported that 470,000 UK workers suffered from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, and some 441,000 working people sustained an injury at work according to the Labour Force Survey in 2020-21.

Time off and eventual treatment can be draining and costly for both employees and employers. The strain is not just physical, financial or the management exercise of trying to fill already depleted shifts. Some 822,000 workers reported suffering work-related stress, depression, or anxiety, according to the HSE. Anyone who’s experienced recurring back pain, for instance, will know how depressing that can be. We all have enough on our plates, let alone our trolleys, and in 2020/21 the effects of the coronavirus pandemic were also found to be a major contributory factor to mental health issues experienced at work.

Where were we physically taking the strain?

The results will not surprise many housekeepers. Back, upper limbs or neck problems accounted for some 84 per cent of reports of pain and injuries. Generally, our legs keep going even when other parts are creaking and ‘whinging’. Musculoskeletal disorders made up 28 per cent of all work-related ill health cases. Caring, leisure and other service occupations account for some 1,690 cases per 100,000 workers, double that of those in sales and customer service roles.

Musculoskeletal disorders can affect muscles, joints and tendons in all parts of the body. Most work-related issues develop over time rather than through accidents.

Among the factors likely to make things worse are continual repetition of movements and a pace of work that does not allow sufficient recovery between such movements. That will chime with many housekeeping teams.

Now let’s take a look at how some of our trolley and cart suppliers are themselves working to lighten the musculoskeletal load on hotel staff.

A custom made Mercura housekeeping trolley with motorised kit included

To minimise the effort required of hotel employees, Mercura decided to equip trolleys with the E-drive system, a 5th motorised wheel that when activated helps to overcome the resistance. A simple button on the handle enables the user to activate the motorisation so that they can move heavily-laden trolleys effortlessly along long hotels corridors. The E-drive noticeably lightens the employee’s load and enables them to concentrate fully on their actual tasks. The results include increased employee satisfaction, a lower sickness rate and significant improvement of the work processes.

All Mercura’s trolleys can be equipped with the E-drive system. Alongside staffing challenges, the post-pandemic guest is actively looking for the reassurance of housekeeping teams and visible signs of cleaning. Therefore, it’s important to choose equipment that can help protect your people, allow them to work as efficiently as possible and handle the demands placed on it, all the time while being visible to your guests.

The Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP) range of housekeeping carts is available in multiple styles and capacities to provide an essential visible and robust cleaning solution. A well-stocked cart is essential for maximising efficiency by reducing time wasted going back and forth to cleaning stores. RCP’s Executive Compact Housekeeping Cart, for example, is a complete system solution, designed with efficiency in mind. The full-size cabinet offers exceptional storage space and an adjustable middle shelf, while its double bag capacity allows for multiple collection streams – such as linens and waste or recycling – with a watertight PVC lining.

The RCP range of housekeeping carts utilises a pocket organiser system to house cleaning tools such as dusters and brushes, as well as products such as microfibre cloths, bin liners, cleaning solutions and hand hygiene provisions. Being able to house multiple cleaning aids means the right solution for any situation is always at hand.

When it comes to preventing musculoskeletal injuries, RCP have paid special attention to how a fully stocked cart must be suitably mobile for cleaning staff. They are designed with safety and comfort in mind and have a high degree of lightweight manoeuvrability thanks to sturdy wheels and castors that don’t leave marks on floors and carpets.

Rubbermaid (RCP trolleys are designed with safety and comfort in mind and have a high degree of lightweight manoeuvrability

With housekeeping equipment being put through its paces every day, choosing long-lasting carts that can withstand these tough demands is essential. RCP’s housekeeping carts are built to last and designed with durability at the heart, so you can count on them to support productivity improvements and reduce the unnecessary excess costs of replacing products regularly.

Popular and long-established European choice Ascolia – available in the UK from sole distributor Aslotel – is constantly searching for ways to improve manoeuvrability, ergonomics and functionality. They believe this goes beyond their own technological advances and starts with a careful study of the design of your establishment to ensure the best equipment is supplied. Also taken into account is that ‘mobile furniture’, often seen by customers, must be in perfect harmony with its surroundings, so pure and sober lines have a part to play. But for the user, comfort and manoeuvrability are key.

To maximise the balance between comfort of work, efficiency and design, Ascolia trolleys are made from extremely light and durable materials, such as anodised aluminium with compact panel partition walls together with high quality precision ball bearing non-marking wheels.

All their products are assembled and controlled in their own factories and Ascolia believe the affixing of our label at the end of the production line is a warrant of quality. Ascolia has almost a century’s worth of traditional quality and know-how and exports to over 80 countries.

Left to right: The Ascolia Vulcano has a sturdy base and offers elegance and refinement, particularly in areas of reduced space. The Lavezzi from Ascolia is seen as a ‘personal companion’ for maintenance services and has swivelling wheels with a non-marking thermoplastic layer and swivelling corner pads for protection. A housekeeping ‘all-in-one’ is the theme of the Gulliver trolley from Ascolia, with its amenities drawer, three levels for clean linen and a removable box for chemicals – all available from Aslotel
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