Dan Carr

By: Dan Carr on May 8th, 2020

Print/Save as PDF

How to Properly Fit a Backpack Vacuum for Increased Safety and Comfort [VIDEO]

Backpack vacuums have become popular in many commercial facilities. 

They provide janitorial staff with a range of benefits including increased range of motion, improved safety, reduced fatigue, and improved user comfort. When using a commercial backpack vacuum with a 14-inch orifice carpet tool, you can experience up to a 230% increase in productivity over a 12-inch upright vacuum. However, to achieve these benefits a backpack vacuum must be worn properly. 

The importance of a proper fit can not be overlooked. 

Similar to hiking or camping backpacks, backpack vacuums are designed to distribute weight in a way that allows them to be worn for long periods of time without causing discomfort. Without the proper fit, backpack vacuums can actually be fatiguing and a safety hazard to users. 

 

 

Oftentimes backpack vacuums are not adjusted to the user. Each user will need to manually adjust the vacuum to his or her height and body size to ensure the weight of the vacuum is correctly distributed. 

The weight of the backpack should be on the user’s waist so that the user is supporting the backpack with his leg muscles instead of his shoulder and back muscles. 

The position of the backpack as well as the operator's increased ability to walk in a natural motion reduces the tendency to hunch over. Additionally, the neutral and more natural posture of using a backpack vacuum reduces repetitive motions and vigorous movements like arm and leg extensions that are associated with an upright vacuum. This enables backpack users to reduce fatigue, meaning more energy and increased productivity while on the job.

Improperly worn backpack vacuums can also be a safety risk to the user. Backpack vacuums which are not securely tightened to the user can shift during use and cause the operator to become off balance and lose their footing. This can be extremely dangerous on stairs or when the user is on elevated surfaces. 

Increased worker productivity and safety will ultimately result in a better bottom line.

In this article and video, we’ll review how to properly wear a backpack vacuum so the user can realize the full ergonomic and productivity benefits. 

Backpack Vac in lunch RoomPrepare Vacuum 

Before the commercial backpack can be put on the user, all harness straps should be loosened. 

On some backpacks, like those manufactured by ProTeam, there is a back plate that must be adjusted for proper fitting based on the user’s torso length. 

Place Vacuum on Back

To put the vacuum backpack on, the user should use his dominant hand to pick up the first vacuum strap and slide it over his arm. Then bring the second strap around the back and over the other shoulder so that the vacuum is resting on the user's back.

After the vacuum is on the back of the user, the harness straps need to be fastened in a specific order so that the backpack properly rests on the user.

The backpack should be positioned on the body so that it has 4 key contact points: waist, hips, shoulders, and chest.  

A commercial backpack vacuum distributes weight or stress to all four of these contact points making it less taxing for the operator when compared to an upright vacuum. 

Pro Tip: Contact points are the areas where the vacuum will rest on the user’s body. 

 

Steps to Properly Fit a Backpack Vacuum 

1. Adjust Shoulder Straps 

Adjust Shoulder Straps

Pull down the shoulder straps until snug and the vacuum rests at your hips. There should be minimal room for movement. 

If the shoulder straps are too loose, the machine will slide around on the user’s back, making it uncomfortable to wear because the vacuum will be sitting lower than the hips. 

Do not over tighten the straps. Straps which are too tight lift the vacuum up off the operator’s waist to the small of the back and transfer some of the vacuum weight to the user’s shoulders. 

The majority of the vacuum’s weight should always be on the operator’s waist. The weight should not rest on the shoulders or small of the back. 

If the user feels a shift of weight from their hips to their shoulders, loosen the straps and start over.

2. Fasten Waist Belt 

Adjust Waist StrapIf your backpack vacuum has a waist strap, begin tightening it. Fasten the waist belt to a comfortable tightness. There should be some room for movement. 

The belt is tight enough when the user feels the weight of the vacuum shift from their shoulders to their waist. It is critical that the majority of the weight rests on the users hips rather than their shoulders. 

Backpack vacuums with back plates distribute 90% of the vacuum’s weight to the user's hips. 

If the weight rests on the shoulders of the operator it will lead to poor posture and increased fatigue. It can also lead to operator injury and increased insurance costs. 

3. Connect Chest/Sternum Strap

Chest StrapFinally, the chest strap should be tightened across the user’s sternum (across the middle of their chest). 

This strap will ensure the machine is centered on the operator’s back and the shoulder pads remain in place. 

 

 


Final Thoughts 

Adjusting a commercial backpack vacuum to the individual user will maximize operator comfort and safety while minimizing fatigue. 

Reduced stress on the body will allow workers to comfortably complete more work in less time. 

With a backpack vacuum and 14 inch orifice carpet tool, you can experience as much as a 230% increase in productivity when compared to a 12 in upright vacuum.

EBP has been the leading provider of commercial cleaning products and janitorial cleaning equipment for over 100 years. We offer an unrivaled selection of commercial cleaning products and janitorial cleaning equipment to help you build the most effective and productive cleaning program.

 If you are interested in finding out additional ways to boost productivity check out some of these articles:

About Dan Carr

Dan Carr is the Equipment Program Manager for EBP Supply Solutions and a Trainer for the EBP Training Academy, which offers CMI-certified and other training courses for supervisory and front-line cleaning professionals throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. He holds the ISSA CMI Basic certification and has over 35 years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry.