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New Hotel Housekeeper Safety Rules Approved by Cal / OSHA

Safety RulesWhen you check into a hotel, you expect your room to be fresh, clean, and well-stocked to accommodate your needs. If you are like most people, you probably realize that the responsibility for maintaining your room falls on the hotel’s housekeeping staff, though you may only give housekeeping a second thought if and when there is a problem. It turns out, however, that housekeeping workers have many problems of their own, and their jobs are often dangerous due to a variety of occupational hazards. Fortunately, California’s Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board has approved new regulations that look to keep hotel housekeepers safer on the job.

Hotel Room Dangers

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health—commonly known as Cal/OSHA—has been reviewing the issue of hotel housekeeper safety for at least six years. During that time, more than 150 housekeeping workers from around the state offered testimony regarding their work environments and hazards. Throughout these stories, there were many common threads, with countless staff members experiencing similar problems. Hotel housekeepers are at risk for repetitive motion and cumulative effect injuries, but many outside the industry do not realize some of the other dangers that housekeeping staff members face.

One of a housekeeper’s primary tasks is to change bedsheets for each new guest—or more often if requested by a current guest. Changing bed sheets sounds simple enough, but most hotels do not use fitted sheets. Hotel executives say that fitted sheets are harder to press than flat sheets and the elastic wears out relatively quickly. The problem, however, is that using a flat sheet requires a housekeeper to lift the mattress several times during the process of making a bed. Luxury mattresses can weigh up to 100 pounds or more, and awkward spacing in rooms often force housekeepers to twist and bend to get the beds made. Thus, muscle strains and sprains are unfortunately common.

An average housekeeper is expected to clean about 15 to 20 rooms in a typical shift, which means he or she must maintain a fast working pace, which creates additional dangers. The worker may be required to scrub floors on their knees because many hotels do not provide long-handled mops. Finally, even the ubiquitous housekeeping carts most of us are familiar with may present hidden dangers. The wheels on some carts are often not well-suited for the plush carpeting found in many hotel corridors, while other carts are not designed for optimal efficiency.

New Rule Offers Help

Last month, Cal/OSHA unanimously approved a new guideline to address the ergonomic dangers of hotel housekeeping. Under the new regulation, hotels must create action plans for identifying and addressing hazards that could cause musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers. The rule also requires hotels to include housekeepers in designing and conducting evaluation standards so that management and executives fully understand what front-line staff members are facing. All housekeeping staff must be trained to identify injury risks and how to report safety concerns without fear of retaliation.

The new rule must be approved by an administrative law judge before it can be filed with the Secretary of State’s office.

Injured at Work?

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries due to lax workplace safety standards, you may be able to collect compensation. Contact an experienced San Jose workplace injury attorney to discuss your options. Call (408) 289-1417 for a free, no-obligation consultation today.

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