In a meeting hotel housekeepers across California attended, Cal/OSHA approved new measures to keep industry workers safe from workplace injuries.
The state’s workplace health and safety watchdog voted 6–0 on Thursday, Jan. 18 to enact Section 3345, Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention.
“Hotel housekeepers are the invisible backbone of the hospitality industry,” said Pamela Vossenas, DrPHc, MPH and director of worker safety and health for Unite Here, a nationwide hospitality labor union, in a statement. “Overwhelmingly women, immigrants, and people of color, housekeepers face high rates of workplace injury. The state of California has recognized the seriousness of the dangers housekeepers face and took an important step to protect these workers.”
The approval is part of Cal/OSHA’s wave of efforts to protect housekeepers from workplace dangers including injuries, heavy workloads, sexual harassment and assault.
Hospitality workers often lift 100 lb. mattresses dozens of times each day, push heavy carts and vacuum across miles of carpet. This workload can lead to strain, sprain and tears, which can require physical therapy or even lead to permanent disability, according to Cal/OSHA.
Because of the risk for musculoskeletal injuries, Unite Here first petitioned the agency in 2012 to adopt a standard to protect hospitality workers.
“Many times our work is not recognized, and we who do this work are underappreciated,” said Ana Maria Rodriguez, 46, a housekeeper in Anaheim, Calif., in a statement. “With this vote, our work has more importance and we have a way to protect ourselves.”
Under the new standard, hotels will be required to identify and reduce injury risks for workers, including providing proper tools such as long-handled mops or devices to help make beds. In addition, housekeepers will receive training on injury risks and have the right to suggest solutions to those risks, according to the new rules.
“Scrubbing glass shower doors and lifting mattresses is heavy work,” said Yolanda Baron Carmona, an Emeryville, Calif. Housekeeper, in a statement. “ I injured my neck and shoulder last year and couldn’t do my job. These new rules are good for my coworkers and all workers in the hotel industry.”