Vomit Vacuum? JR East Japan subsidiary develops vomit vacuum
JR East Environment Access Co., a subsidiary of East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), has developed a special vacuum cleaner that collects passengers’ vomit on train platforms and other areas in stations. The company, which cleans stations operated by JR East, among other locations, said it will provide the vacuums to stations by the end of this year when the number of drunk passengers increases. By providing the vacuums, it aims to improve work conditions for employees. According to JR East Environment, 20 piles of vomit are found per day on average at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, with the average rising to 50 on Fridays. The number further increases during the period in which year-end and New Year’s parties are held. On one night, more than 100 piles of vomit were found at Shin-Okubo Station. To clean vomit, company staff currently scatter sawdust and a paper coagulant before scooping up the contents with a broom and dustpan. A company official described the process as “one of the toughest tasks” as employees are at risk of contracting infectious diseases from the vomit, such as norovirus. They must also cope with unpleasant sights and nauseating smells. The vacuum was jointly developed with a Tokyo-based maker of environmental devices. The machine directly sucks in vomit and stores it in an encased plastic bag. By using the vacuum, staff can cleanly remove vomit and save time. The company plans to sell the vacuums to other businesses that operate public areas, such as restaurants and airports.