Six years ago, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health received a petition from hotel workers’ representatives that ultimately led to the agency recently issuing new regulations to prevent injuries. Housekeepers in hotels file more workers’ compensation claims for cumulative and acute injuries than workers in any other industry. The new rule requires employers to implement musculoskeletal injury prevention programs (MIPP) with ergonomic standards to protect hotel housekeepers.
Cal/OSHA says these workers risk slips and trips that cause falls, and they frequently work in awkward and prolonged static postures along with repetitive reaching to extreme heights above their shoulders. Further threats of injuries are caused by lifting, hand- and full-body exertions while bending and twisting the torso, pulling, pushing, and squatting. During all this, they have to look out for being struck by falling objects as they sweep, dust, scrub, mop, and polish.
Their excessive work rate includes cleaning slippery bathrooms and delicate fixtures, making beds and turning heavy mattresses, loading and pushing heavy linen carts, and more. Moving heavy pieces of furniture and spending hours vacuuming hallways are also par for the course. The fact that these workers do not get adequate recovery time between tasks exacerbates the musculoskeletal stresses on their bodies.
While the new standard might protect hotel housekeepers from workplace injuries after the regulations become effective on July 1, those who have already suffered musculoskeletal injuries will need help with the mounting medical bills. These injuries could cause long-term health problems, and the California workers’ compensation insurance program is there to help. Proving injuries to be work-related could be challenging, but an experienced attorney can provide the necessary support and guidance.