Preventing musculoskeletal injuries in housekeepers

Effective July 1, 2018, lodging establishments in California with employees performing housekeeping tasks are now required to establish, implement, and maintain an effective, written, musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP) that addresses hazards specific to housekeeping. The requirements are set forth in California Code of Regulations, Title 8, section 3345. The regulation is intended to control the risk of musculoskeletal injuries in housekeepers working in lodging establishments. Hotels, motels, resorts, bed and breakfast inns, and other lodging establishments must comply with the standard. For hospitality businesses outside California, not only does it establish standards you should consider adopting of your own accord, it could be a sign of things to come in your own jurisdiction.

Who is covered?
Housekeepers, guest room attendants, room cleaners, maids, and house persons.

What is a musculoskeletal injury?
A musculoskeletal injury is an injury caused by a traumatic event or by repeated exposure over weeks, months, or years of repetitive motion, force, vibration, or awkward positions. Examples of events and activities that can cause musculoskeletal injuries include slips, trips, falls, extreme reaches above the shoulder, lifting, bending, twisting, kneeling, squatting, pushing, pulling, being struck by falling objects, and pressing hard against an object or surface. Working too quickly without adequate breaks between tasks can also increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries. These injuries can affect a person’s muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, back, or blood vessels. They can cause pain in the back, wrist, shoulder, neck, or other parts of the body.

What is the concern?
Hotel housekeepers are at increased risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries caused by their job tasks, which include, for example:

  • 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
  • Moving furniture

Employers must have an effective written program that includes:

  • Procedures for identifying and evaluating housekeeping hazards through a worksite evaluation
  • Procedures to investigate musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers
  • Methods or procedures for correcting hazards identified in the worksite evaluation or in the investigation of musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers
  • Training for housekeepers and their supervisors on the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with musculoskeletal injuries, and on safe practices including the use of appropriate tools and equipment to prevent injuries

Housekeepers’ rights include:

  • Participating in designing and conducting worksite evaluations and being informed of worksite evaluation results
  • Providing input during the investigation of a musculoskeletal injury on whether a control measure, procedure, or tool would have prevented the injury
  • Participating in identifying and evaluating possible ways to correct hazards identified in a worksite evaluation or in the investigation of a musculoskeletal injury to a housekeeper
  • Having the housekeepers’ union representative involved in the activities listed above
  • Receiving training in a language that is easily understood. The training must include an opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about hotel housekeeping equipment and procedures

What training must employers provide?
Hotels and other lodging establishments must train housekeepers and supervisors in a language that they can understand. The training must be provided:

  • When the MIPP is first established and every year after that
  • 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
  • Whenever the employer learns of a new or previously unrecognized hazard

Training for housekeepers must include:

  • The signs, symptoms, and risk factors commonly associated with musculoskeletal injuries
  • The elements of the employer’s MIPP, and how the written MIPP and all records of the steps to implement it will be made available to housekeepers
  • The process for reporting safety and health concerns without fear of reprisal
  • Body mechanics and safe practices
  • Why and how to report symptoms and injuries to the employer as soon as possible
  • Practice using the kinds of equipment and tools the housekeeper will be expected to use
  • An opportunity for interactive questions and answers with a person knowledgeable about hotel housekeeping equipment and procedures

For more information on the hotel housekeeping musculoskeletal injury prevention standard go visit dir.ca.gov.

Source:  Cal/OSHA Department of Industrial Relations

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