California has adopted a new workplace safety and health regulation to prevent and reduce work-related injuries to housekeepers in the hotel and hospitality industry. This is the first ergonomic standard in the nation written specifically to protect hotel housekeepers. The new standard, which will be enforced by Cal/OSHA, was approved March 9 by the Office of Administrative Law and will become effective July 1.
“Hotel housekeepers have higher rates of acute and cumulative injuries compared to workers in other industries, and data shows those injuries have steadily increased,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “This regulation requires employers to identify, evaluate and correct housekeeping-related hazards with the involvement of housekeepers and their union representative.”
The new regulation requires employers in the hotel and lodging industry to establish, implement and maintain an effective Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (MIPP). Hotel housekeepers frequently suffer musculoskeletal injuries from lifting mattresses, pulling linens, pushing heavy carts, and slipping, tripping or falling while cleaning bathrooms.
The MIPP must include the following:
• Procedures to identify and evaluate housekeeping hazards through worksite evaluations that include housekeeper input
• Procedures to investigate musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers
• Methods to correct identified hazards
• Training of employees and supervisors on safe practices and controls, and a process for early reporting of injuries to the employer
In 2012, hotel worker representatives presented a petition to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) requesting a new standard to regulate the specific hazards faced by hotel housekeepers. Cal/OSHA convened open advisory meetings over a three-year period to gather information, and determined that existing regulations did not adequately address the hazards faced by housekeepers. Dozens of workers spoke at the meetings, sharing their experiences and discussing how their injuries impacted their lives at work and at home.
Musculoskeletal injuries, which are injuries of a muscle, tendon, ligament, bursa, peripheral nerve, joint, bone or spinal disc can prevent workers from returning to their jobs, and can impose high financial costs on the injured workers and their families, employers and insurers.
OSHSB adopted the proposed standard on January 18 after six years of staff research and analysis and participation by the public through meetings, hearings and submission of comments. The standard will be added to Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations as section 3345, Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention.
The mission of the Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board is to promote, adopt, and maintain reasonable and enforceable standards that will ensure a safe and healthful workplace for California workers.