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Study uncovers reason Danish cleaning workers retire early
An 11-year study of Danish female cleaning workers received little North American news coverage.
The 2016 study was conducted to find out why these workers were retiring early, mostly due to a variety of ailments including "upper extremities complaints, elbow pain of more than 90 days in the past year, and symptoms of nerve entrapment (pressure on nerves causing pain)."
The group included 1,430 female cleaners. Some 66% had retired around 60 years of age, earlier than the nominal retirement age in Denmark of 65 years of age.
The study included the 1,430 female cleaning workers as well as a control group made up of people working as shop assistants. Here are some of the findings uncovered during a 90-day period:
- 30% of the cleaning workers reported shoulder pain compared to thirteen percent of the shop assistants
- 16% of the cleaning workers reported elbow pain compared to just six percent of the shop assistants
- 23% of the cleaning workers reported wrist pain, but only 8 percent for the shop assistants
- Tingling in the fingers was reported by 13% of the cleaning workers, but only among 4% of the shop assistants
æ 45% of the cleaning workers reported a combination of shoulder, elbow, and wrist pain during this 90-day period, but only by 20% of the shop assistants.
The reported noted that the two groups were comparable as to age, marital status, ethnicity, as well as job-related physical stress. So, these were eliminated as factors that could impact the results of the research.
However, here is what was different. The female cleaning workers mopped floors more than 10 hours per week. The researchers concluded that:
"Floor cleaning defined as the use of a mop more than 10 hours a week was associated with risk of early retirement," says Matt Morrison of Kaivac, manufacturers of the OmniFlex floor cleaning systems.
"The study was conducted before floor cleaning alternatives like we have to today had been introduced. As a result, the researchers could offer no suggestions as to how this situation could be addressed or prevented."
Source: 'Early retirement among Danish female cleaners and shop assistants according to work environment characteristics and upper extremity complaints: an 11-year follow-up study' by Lone Donbæk Jensen, Jens Peter Ellekilde Bonde, Michael Victor Christensen, and Thomas Maribo; published 2016, in the US National Library of Medicine
2nd August 2018