The first ergonomic standard in the nation written specifically to protect hotel housekeepers from musculoskeletal injuries went into effect on July 1, 2018, and requires employers to complete an initial worksite evaluation by October 1 to identify and address housekeeping worker hazards.
Cal/OSHA has produced a Safety and Health Fact Sheet to help employers in the hotel and lodging industry comply with the new Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention regulation.
The fact sheet provides an overview of the workplace health and safety requirements that reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders common among housekeepers.
Cal/OSHA also encourages employers to post the Preventing Musculoskeletal Injuries in Housekeepers poster — which includes information on the causes of musculoskeletal injuries — in a place accessible to all housekeeping workers; however, this is not a mandatory workplace poster.
“We created these guidance materials to help workers know their rights and employers their responsibilities to comply with this standard,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum, in a statement.
The employer’s housekeeping safety program must include the following:
- Procedures to identify and evaluate housekeeping hazards through worksite evaluations;
- Procedures to investigate musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers;
- Methods to correct identified hazards; and
- Training of employees and supervisors on safe practices and controls, and a process for early reporting of injuries to the employer.
When evaluating worksite hazards, investigating injuries and identifying corrective measures, input from the housekeepers and their union representatives is required.
Musculoskeletal injuries are injuries of a muscle, tendon, ligament, bursa, peripheral nerve, joint, bone or spinal disc that can limit or prevent someone from working. According to Cal/OSHA, hotel housekeepers frequently suffer musculoskeletal injuries lifting mattresses, pulling linens, pushing heavy carts, and slipping, tripping or falling while cleaning bathrooms — at a rate higher than workers in other industries.
In 2012, hotel worker representatives petitioned the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board requesting a new standard to control the hazards hotel housekeepers face. Public advisory meetings were convened over a three-year period to gather information and new regulations were eventually approved.
More information on the standard can also be found on Cal/OSHA’s website.