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Workplace Injury Risk High for Hotel Housekeeping Staff

Housekeeping StaffAccording to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI), those employed by the hotel/motel industry are extremely susceptible to higher rates of workplace injuries some of which are often classified as extremely severe. The U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), also recognizes, following the evaluation of three years of incident reports rated by job, company and demographic characteristics, room attendant positions are typically known to be the most physically harmful. Data reveals that hospitality housekeepers experience a nonfatal injury and illness rate of 5.4 percent while the national rate of all other professions ranks at 3.5 percent.

This position, often described as grueling and intense, is experiencing a rise in intensity as hotels and motels continue to add amenities to the rooms as a means to enhance the guest experience thus causing the room attendants to work harder and faster, not smarter. Risks of a workplace injury are so great that advocates have been strongly lobbying for better training to decrease the dangers often associated with this position.

Efforts to Increase Safety

In 2012, the hospitality workers union, UNITE HERE petitioned the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Occupational Safety and Health Standard Board (Cal/OSHA) calling for an industry standard as a means to not only protect but to decrease the rate of physical harm for those in the industry.

The petition, calling for the “promulgation of a safety and health standard” addresses the occupational hazards facing those working in the hospitality industry and concentrating on

  • The identification of risk factors associated with musculoskeletal injuries;
  • The standardization of musculoskeletal injury prevention programs;
  • The establishment of protocols for reporting injuries without consequence; and
  • The safety evaluation of job-related tools.

As Cal/OSHA forges ahead with the initiative, some hoteliers have been joining in on the effort by offering a device that assists with making beds while others have responded with the switch to green chemicals, lighter furniture and refraining from flipping mattresses. Some chains even encourage their staff to stretch before beginning the work day.

Even slight changes, like the ones mentioned can decrease time lost due to musculoskeletal injuries. In addition, training manuals are now including tips and safety-related information for new staff to curtail the number of ergonomics-related injuries, such as:

  • Avoiding bending while making a bed;
  • Switching arms when cleaning surfaces;
  • Placing the heaviest cart cleaning tools at hip level;
  • Purchasing comfortable and supportive shoes;
  • Starting a shift with stretching exercises;
  • Getting enough rest and investing in a healthy lifestyle; and
  • Including policies and procedures for reporting any type of workplace injury.

Experiencing a workplace injury can be financially devastating. Although worker’s compensation insurance may alleviate a fraction of the damages, often it is not enough. If you are a member of the hospitality industry and recently experienced a workplace injury due to your employer’s lack of safety measures or procedures, the experienced San Jose workplace injury attorneys of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. can help. Since 2006, our legal team has been assisting clients with effective and results-driven counsel both in and outside the courtroom. Contact our office today to learn how we can get the compensation you deserve.

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