California has adopted a new workplace safety and health regulation to prevent and reduce work-related injuries to housekeepers in the hotel and hospitality industry. It is the first ergonomic standard in the nation written specifically to protect hotel housekeepers.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) will enforce the new standard, which was approved March 9 by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and will go into effect on July 1.
The new regulation requires hotel and lodging employers to establish, implement and maintain an effective Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (MIPP) for housekeepers.
According to the new standard, which the Cal/OSHA Standards Board approved on January 18, the MIPP must include:
• Procedures to identify and evaluate housekeeping hazards through worksite evaluations that include housekeeper input.
• Procedures to investigate musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers.
• Methods to correct identified hazards.
• Training of employees and supervisors on safe practices and controls, and a process for early reporting of injuries to the employer.
Adoption of the proposed standard is the culmination of a years-long process that started in 2012 when UNITE HERE, a labor union representing workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, airport, textile, manufacturing, distribution, laundry and transportation industries, petitioned the Cal/OSHA Standards Board to develop a safety and health standard to “address the occupational hazards faced by housekeepers in the hotel and hospitality industry.”
Advocates called for stronger protections and better ergonomics training for hotel housekeeping workers to wrestle heavy mattresses and increased hotel room amenities, such as heavier comforters and towels.
The California Chamber of Commerce and other industry stakeholders participated in advisory committees convened by Cal/OSHA to bring together labor union workers, their advocates and industry representatives to discuss possible regulatory approaches and language.
Cal/OSHA adopted a number of CalChamber-recommended revisions to the regulatory language while not agreeing with the CalChamber and industry contention that a separate program for the musculoskeletal injuries was unwarranted.
The new standard will be added to Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations as Section 3345, Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention.