Preventing Hotel Housekeeper Injuries
Hotel housekeepers have a myriad of responsibilities. They’re required to scrub bathrooms, vacuum, dust, makes beds, take the trash out and more. Performing each of these tasks sometimes over a dozen times a day opens up housekeeping professionals to a higher potential of physical, stress-induced, and repetition injuries.
Our goal is to educate you on housekeeper injury types and facts, inform you of new regulations impacting lodging establishments employing housekeeping staff — and, most importantly, provide you with tips to help prevent hotel housekeeping injuries.
Housekeeper Injury Facts
Some startling housekeeper injuries statistics provided by The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) include:
- Hotel workers in the U.S. alone have a 40 percent higher chance of becoming injured at work than other service-sector employees in general.
- Hotel workers suffer the highest injury rate than other workers studied.
- Hotel workers suffer the highest rate of musculoskeletal injuries among all other occupations studied.
- Hotel workers ranked the highest acute trauma injury rates as well.
States Beginning to Enforce Safety Around Cleaning and Injury
As a result of a high rate of musculoskeletal injuries to hotel houseworkers, California has passed a regulation intended to protect housekeepers working in lodging establishments. The regulation, which went into effect on July 1, 2018, requires hotels, resorts and other lodging establishments to identify and address hazards that place their housekeepers at risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
We will talk more about this law, and what it means for housekeeping professionals and their employers, later in the article. For now, we will identify the three most common categories of injuries that hotel housekeeping professional experience that cause significant impairment and workers compensation claims. These include musculoskeletal injuries, acute trauma and cumulative trauma injuries. Read on below to find out more:
1) Musculoskeletal Injuries
Musculoskeletal injuries are injuries caused by traumatic events or by weeks, months or years worth of repeated exposure to repetitive force, motion, awkward positions and vibration.
Examples of tasks housekeepers perform capable of causing a musculoskeletal injury include:
- Extreme reaches above the shoulder
- Being struck by falling objects
- Pressing hard against a surface or object
In addition, housekeepers who work very quickly without taking sufficient breaks between tasks are also at an increased risk of a musculoskeletal injury due to overexertion and mental exhaustion.
Musculoskeletal injuries can affect housekeepers:
- Blood vessels
They can lead to pain in their neck, back, shoulder, wrist or other parts of the body.
2) Acute Trauma
Acute trauma is often the result of trips, slips and falls. Housekeeping professionals are at higher risk due to the amount of time they spend on slick surfaces in bathrooms, which create ideal conditions for slip and fall injuries. Additionally, they often have obstructed vision when carrying linens, pushing carts, or performing other tasks that can cause conditions for tripping and falling.
3) Cumulative Trauma Injuries
Besides suffering from acute trauma, hotel housekeeping staff are especially vulnerable to cumulative trauma injuries. Cumulative trauma injuries can develop from repetition, force or improper work positioning. These are injuries resulting from the repetitive and stressful actions performed ever day which lead to sensitive nerve tissue and tendons caused by constant use over an extended period of time.
These injuries develop gradually over a period of time (weeks, months, and even years) and can cause pain in the wrist, back, neck and shoulder.
Cumulative trauma injuries can result in:
- Strained shoulders
- Pulled back
- Arm injuries
- Neck injuries
- Knee injuries
- Broken bones
- Trauma injuries
- Torn muscles, ligaments and tendons
Other Types of Injuries Housekeepers Face
Respiratory illnesses from repeated exposure to chemical cleaning agents can cause respiratory problems and cleaning up waste, vomit and potential blood-borne pathogen on improperly disposed of uncapped needed can expose housekeepers to infectious diseases.
Causes of Common Hotel Housekeeper Injuries
1) Repetitive movements. The job of a hotel houseworker demands plenty of repeated movements. The primary risk factors for repetitive motion injuries (RMIs) to housekeepers are forceful upper limb movements in awkward positions which pose a high risk for shoulder, arm and neck injuries and excessive bodily motions and heavy physical workload which increase the risk of back injuries.
2) Working in small spaces with awkward postures. Space limitations requiring workers to use various uncomfortable postures. Workers often are in awkward postures while cleaning areas like the bathrooms. They often make extreme reaches above shoulder height. Hotel houseworkers change their body position every three seconds while they clean a room.
Assuming the average cleaning time for every room is around 25 minutes, estimates are during each shift, the houseworkers assume 8,000 different body postures.
3) Trips, slips and falls. In this job, there are a number of opportunities for housekeepers to lose their footing/balance when they’re walking in and out of the building to do their job, mopping restrooms and floors and waxing/stripping floors. In fact, showers and bathtubs rank among the highest injury risk for “slip and falls”, in terms of location.
Many of these injuries occur in activities associated with cleaning the bathroom. For example, mopping the floor can lead to slips. The workers step up on the rim of the bathtubs or get inside them to reach the back of the shower which also leads to slips. They’re bending over to clean the tub, placing their body in a prolonged awkward position.
4) Lifting. Workers often lift and move objects. The weight of lifting, carrying and moving the trash can lead to shoulder and back injuries. Workers also often lift, carry and move cleaning equipment between rooms which are hard on their bodies. Pushing and pulling heavy equipment and supplies carts can also lead to injury.
5) Working with sharp objects. Houseworkers risk injuries from broken glass, needles and other sharp objects when collecting trash.
6) Overexertion. Workers overuse tendons and muscles causing irritation. Tired tendon, ligaments and muscles are more prone to injury.
Repercussions of Hotel Housekeeper Injuries
There are several repercussions of hotel housekeeper injuries to both housekeepers and hotel owners. A hotel houseworker’s duties and responsibilities can be intense and grueling — sometimes resulting in serious injuries. These serious injuries can impact their ability to earn a living working and quality of life.
Data in 2013 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show motel and hotel workers had a 5.4 rate of nonfatal injury and illness. For all industries, the rate was 3.5.
Stories of hotel houseworkers, coupled by research from a study, paint a drastic picture of a hotel housekeepers work. The study’s findings show behind the comfort and luxury houseworkers provide to the hotel guests is a pattern of injury and pain.
The report indicates not only are houseworkers injured more often than other service and hotel workers, but that the issue is becoming much worse as hotel establishments implement room changes and expect more of housekeeping professionals.
Hotel Owners Repercussions
Adverse repercussions to the lodging establishment from hotel housekeeper injuries include:
- More employee absences
- High employee turnover
- Increased workers compensation claims
- Lawsuits for injuries sustained
Tips to Prevent Hotel Housekeeping Employee Injuries
While there are many things hotel management can choose to do to help prevent injuries in their housekeeping employees, if you manage a lodging establishment in the state of California, there are things you must do to protect hotel workers from musculoskeletal injuries.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal-OSHA) Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program in California went into effect July 1, 2018. The Cal-OSHA voted unanimously to embrace and follow regulations aimed at combating the increasing rate of musculoskeletal hotel housekeeping injuries.
It left hospitality industry establishments three months from the date it went into effect, to comply with these regulations that management must perform an evaluation of the worksite (or for new establishments, three months from opening). All lodging establishments, such as hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, resorts MUST comply with this regulation.
The regulations primarily outline the employers’ requirement to “establish, implement and maintain a sufficient and effective written musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP) addressing hazards and safety issues specific to housekeeping. These regulations also include associated recordkeeping components and training.
Whether you operate a lodging establishment in California or elsewhere, there are concrete ways you can help to protect housekeepers from injuries. Some of the below tips to prevent hotel housekeeper injuries are now mandatory for California lodging establishments, but all hotels, resorts and the like should heed these tips as it’s likely other states will follow suit with similar regulations.
1) Establish a Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (MIPP)
While required in California, it behooves every lodging establishment to create and implement a MIPP. The MIPP needs to be a written document that can be either an incorporated document into the company’s existing Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP) or a separate document. It must also be available to hotel houseworkers during every shift in either electronic or physical format.
An effective MIPP should include:
- Procedures to identify and evaluate housekeeping safety issues and hazards through a worksite evaluation.
- Procedures for investigating houseworkers’ musculoskeletal injuries.
- Procedures or methods for correcting safety issues found in the investigation of housekeepers’ musculoskeletal injuries or worksite evaluation.
- Training for houseworkers and their managers on symptoms, signs and risk factors linked with musculoskeletal injuries as well as on safe practices like preventing injuries and using appropriate equipment and tools.
2) Keep MIPP Records
Managers can keep all records on the implementation and maintenance of the MIPP, including all findings and corrective actions resulting from worksite evaluations.
States are now starting to enforce safety around cleaning and injury, so now is the time to get serious about your hotel housekeeping musculoskeletal injury prevention program.
3) Provide Housekeeper Safety Training
Houseworkers and management are to undergo training in a language all employees can easily understand. This training must occur yearly and owners must provide training after establishing the MIPP and whenever managers assign employees tasks they weren’t previously trained on, managers hire new employees, managers identify previously unknown safety issues or managers introduce new equipment.
The training also must include the following elements:
- The MIPP and how this document and associated records will be provided to houseworkers.
- Common symptoms, signs and risk factors for musculoskeletal injuries.
- The importance of, and process for reporting injuries and safety issues in a timely manner, and without employer retaliation.
- Q&A with a person well-versed in hotel housekeeping procedures and equipment.
- Body mechanics and safe practices including identifying and controlling of workplace safety issues and hands-on instructions on the correct usage of necessary equipment.
- Instruction for hotel management on how to effectively and properly identify and correct safety issues and hazards, unsafe work practices and defective equipment.
4) Create a Successful Work System
An example three-tiered system includes that:
- Make the commitment to improving the system.
- Provide the proper tools and resources for success.
- Empower housekeepers to take part in finding problems and solutions.
- Be proactive in implementing positive changes.
- Understand the basics of injury symptoms and risks.
- Take responsibility for their own safety and health.
5) Use Ergonomic Cleaning Equipment and Devices
Hotel houseworkers should use ergonomic tools and equipment (like The Simple Scrub, by MGI Solutions) to prevent injury.
Ergonomic cleaning equipment helps reduce and even prevent musculoskeletal and cumulative trauma injuries. Specifically, the benefits of ergonomic products include that they
- Reduce pain and discomfort in housekeepers.
- Improve housekeeping work efficiency.
- Lower houseworker injury risk.
- Increase work quality.
- Allows housekeepers to work more easily.
7) Take Simple Precautions
Implement alternative work methods involving:
- Bed making: Encourage hotel houseworkers to use less-awkward postures when they tuck in sheets or lift beds.
- Dusting: Have the housekeepers use micro-fiber products and tools with extended handles.
- Vacuuming: Employees should use vacuums lighter in weight and that are brush-assist or self-propelled. They should have ergonomic handles. Employees may want to use backpacks, canisters or other alternatives to uprights.
- Bathroom cleaning: Employees should not stand on tub rims or inside tub. Instead, use a long-handled brush or scrubber to clean the inside of the tub and shower. As often as possible, perform work at waist level. Don’t carry heavy or large weights — make more trips if needed. Alternate arms when they clean surfaces. Use sprayers and brushes with more-comfortable grips.
How The Simple Scrub Can Alleviate Back Pain and Prevent Injuries to Hotel Housekeepers
The Simple Scrub is an ergonomic cleaning tool that addresses new state standards looking to reduce hotel housekeeper musculoskeletal disorders. It complies with new state regulations, like California, and other states that will likely follow suit soon.
Keeps Housekeepers Safe
Hotel housekeepers have to clean the bathtubs and showers in each room, which has meant they were on their hands and knees using a bristle brush or washcloth. Some may even climb into the tub, which can be slippery, or stand on the wet corners of the tub in order to reach the shower walls.
Not to mention, the chemicals and cleaning supplies housekeepers use during the process are in close proximity of their nose, eyes and skin. These all create safety hazards for the housekeepers. By using The Simple Scrub, employees won’t be coming in direct contact of potentially hazardous chemicals anymore. Usually, houseworkers use cleaning products that contain bleach which dries out the skin and damages polishes and nails. They also can be lethal if mixed with other products accidentally like ammonia.
The Simple Scrub is an ergonomically designed tool to clean the showers and bathrooms (and a lot of other things) while you stand up. This keeps your houseworkers out of the slippery tub and into a comfortable position while they clean. There’s even a yellow color design to remind your houseworkers of the threat of “slips and falls” with their type of work.
Benefits of The Simple Scrub
Core benefits of The Simple Scrub for you preventing injuries to your housekeeping staff include:
- A back saver
- Reduces or eliminates slips and falls
- Prevents musculoskeletal injuries in housekeeping staff
- More efficient than other housekeeping tools, like a mop and broom.
- Comfortable handles
- Heavy volume use
- Easy application – push on and pull off
- A nose and eyes saver
- No more chemicals and fumes
- More abrasive pads for tough cleaning jobs
- Easy to use
- Multifaceted – Use to dry, dust and shine
- Ergonomically designed
- Keeps employees out of the tub
Besides the above, other benefits you can realize as a lodging establishment by using the Simple Scrub include:
- Time savings
- Stronghold pads that stay on while using
- Takes seconds to dry
- No rust or corrosion
- Highly abrasive with no scratching on delicate surfaces
- Improves the hotel’s safety record
- Increased revenue
The Simple Scrub is made of rust proof, durable, lightweight aluminum offering a swiveling head for cleaning the scum line 360 degrees around the bathtub and two foam grip handles. The handles are comfortable therefore easy for heavy volume use.
An All-Around Cleaning Solution
For your hotel establishment, we offer a variety of ergonomic Simple Scrub tools so your housekeepers can also clean those areas beyond the shower and bathtub like floors, pool tiles and more.
As mentioned, The Simple Scrub is perfect for cleaning the tub and allows you to reach all those hard to reach places without getting on your hands and knees. However, that’s not all its good for. You can also use The Simple Scrub to clean your:
- Pool or Spa: It has an ergonomic bend to help clean off the algae from the tiles.
- Vent Hoods: Grease, smoke and moisture can collect on these. You can now get them shiny and clean with The Simple Scrub, which is ideal for those hotel rooms with kitchens.
- Baseboards: Use the clothpad attachment to clean your baseboards and you’re still standing up.
- Mirrors: Use the dry cloth to get your mirrors sparkling clean, whether located in guest rooms or your lobby.
- Tiles and Grout: Tiles and grout tend to collect dirt and grime. The Simple Scrub takes care of these too.
- Floors: Great for the hardwood, laminate, vinyl, tile bamboo, eucalyptus, and cork floors.
- Car: The Simple Scrub can help clean those hard to reach areas while leaving your car shiny.
- Just about everything else: Think ceiling fans, walls, inside and outside of cabinets, headboards, windows, etc.
The Simple Scrub now has five pads with each of them having a different hardness and abrasiveness, including a new microfiber pad for your windows, baseboards and mirrors.
- White pad – Least abrasive for bathtubs and showers
- Red pad – Mid-line abrasive
- Black pad – Most abrasive for tough jobs
- Cloth Pads – Used for drying afterward
The advantage of these varying types of pads is it enables your housekeepers to choose the right tool for the job, letting the pad do the work, instead of them ― and serving to help prevent injuries in the process.
The Simple Scrub comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Your consumers only need to replace the pads. There’s very minimal competition for this product. None of the competition’s products have come close to making the task of bathtub cleaning as effective and safe as The Simple Scrub.
To learn more about The Simple Scrub and how it can help keep your hotel housekeepers safe from injuries while still performing a great cleaning job, visit https://www.thesimplescrub.com/.