Six years after receiving a petition from representatives of hotel workers, California OSHA (Cal/OSHA) has issued a final workplace and health regulation to prevent and reduce work-related injuries to housekeepers in the hotel and hospitality industry.
Central to the new regulation is the requirement that employers must develop, implement, and maintain a housekeeping musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP). According to Cal/OSHA, this is the first ergonomic standard in the nation written specifically to protect hotel housekeepers.
“Hotel housekeepers have higher rates of acute and cumulative injuries compared to workers in other industries, and data show 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.”
Tasks and Injury Risks
The MIPP must address hazards specific to housekeeping tasks, which the regulation (California Code of Regulations, Title 8, new Section 3345) defines to include sweeping, dusting, scrubbing, mopping and polishing of floors, tubs, showers, sinks, mirrors, walls, fixtures, and other surfaces; making beds; vacuuming; loading, unloading, pushing, and pulling linen carts; removing and supplying linen and other supplies in the rooms; collecting and disposing of trash; and moving furniture.
Injury risks listed in the regulation include slips, trips, and falls; prolonged or awkward static postures; extreme reaches and repetitive reaches above shoulder height; lifting or forceful whole-body or hand exertions; torso bending, twisting, kneeling, and squatting; pushing and pulling; falling and striking objects; pressure points where a part of the body presses against an object or surface; excessive work rate; and inadequate recovery time between housekeeping tasks.
At a minimum, the MIPP must include:
- Procedures for identifying and evaluating housekeeping hazards through a worksite evaluation. The initial evaluation must be completed within 3 months after the July 1, 2018, effective date of the regulation or within 3 months after the opening of a new lodging establishment. The procedures must include an effective means of involving housekeepers and their union representative in designing and conducting the worksite evaluation. The employer must notify housekeepers of the results of the evaluation in writing or by posting it in a location readily accessible to them. The results of the worksite evaluation must be in a language easily understood by housekeepers. Updates of the evaluation are required at least annually and whenever new practices that may change or increase hazards are introduced.
- Procedures to investigate musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers, including the housekeeping task being performed at the time of the injury; whether any identified control measures were available and in use; and a determination of why required tools or other control measures were not used or not used appropriately at the time of the injury.
- Methods or procedures for correcting, in a timely manner, hazards identified in the worksite evaluation or in the investigation of musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers, including procedures for determining whether identified corrective measures are implemented appropriately.
The employer is also required to provide training to housekeepers when the MIPP is first established and at least annually thereafter; to all new housekeepers and supervisors; to all housekeepers given new job assignments for which training was not previously provided; when new equipment or work practices are introduced; and whenever the employer becomes aware of a new or previously unrecognized hazard.
Training must include the signs, symptoms, and risk factors commonly associated with musculoskeletal injuries; the elements of the employer’s MIPP and how certain MIPP records will be made available to housekeepers; the process for reporting safety and health concerns without fear of reprisal; and other elements, including safe practices, proper use of equipment, and training for managers on how to identify hazards and communicate effectively with housekeeping staff on correcting problems.
The regulation includes a nonmandatory list of references on conducting worksite evaluations.