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Hazards and risks faced by hotel housekeepers

If you are a housekeeper in the California hospitality industry, some of your duties are likely intense and grueling. Hotels offer more and more amenities to their guests, resulting in increased workloads that can lead to serious workplace injuries. Safety agencies report a significant increase in occupational diseases and nonfatal injuries among hospitality employees. They say better safety training and ergonomic changes may prevent many injuries and illnesses.

Safety advocates state that proper training can teach housekeeping staff how to use their bodies in ways that can prevent musculoskeletal damage. A significant percentage of injuries result from overexertion and damage done to muscles and tendons.

Common injuries

Typical tasks of hotel room cleaners include vacuuming, dusting, changing linens and making beds. Your duties might include the turning of mattresses, some of which weigh more than 100 pounds. Cleaning mirrors and scrubbing bathrooms pose slip-and-fall hazards, and trash disposal can expose you to health risks. Your job could lead to any of the following injuries:

  • Musculoskeletal injuries -- Vacuuming, scrubbing, dusting at different levels, making beds and other tasks require your body to move in ways that could sprain, strain or tear muscles and tendons.
  • Slips, trips and falls -- Scrubbing bathtubs, showers and bathroom floors create ideal conditions for slip-and-fall accidents. Furthermore, when you have to carry bundles of linen, the restricted view may cause you to trip over other cleaning equipment, resulting in severe injuries.
  • Respiratory illnesses -- Repeated exposure to chemical cleaning agents can cause respiratory problems.
  • Infectious diseases -- Waste disposal can expose you to blood-borne pathogens on uncapped needles and broken glass, not to mention the hazards of cleaning up vomit or other body waste.
  • Stress -- Job insecurity, excessive workloads and other hazards may cause occupational stress.

Suggested precautions

More amenities bring more work and more hazards. Safety authorities suggest hotel cleaners take the following precautions:

  • Changing linen and making beds -- Prevent unnecessary muscle tension by standing close to the bed to avoid stretching and bending simultaneously. Ask for the help of a co-worker if you have to flip a mattress.
  • Cleaning and scrubbing -- Try to switch arms to avoid overexertion of the muscles and tendons of one arm.
  • Pushing, pulling and carrying -- When you push carts, pull heavy pieces of furniture and carry heavy objects, hold the weight in your midriff area because the area between your hips and chest have more strength.

Along with these measures, wearing comfortable shoes, eating healthy, exercising and sleeping well, may make you less susceptible to occupational injuries and illnesses. However, do not hesitate to report any injury or pain you experience. Delaying treatment may exacerbate the condition.

The California workers' compensation insurance system may cover your medical expenses and lost wages if your injury causes absence from work -- if you report the injury to your employer promptly. You may choose to utilize the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to ensure you receive the maximum amount of benefits to which you are entitled or to help you fight against any wrongfully denied claims.

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