When most of us stay in hotels, whether for business or vacation, it’s a chance to leave the bed-making, trash emptying and tidying up to someone else. However, for the hotel workers who clean our rooms, the job can lead to physical ailments and injuries. According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.8 percent of full-time hotel workers reported work-related illnesses and injuries, compared with 4.4 percent for private sector workers overall.
Part of the problem is the sheer number of rooms that maids and cleaners are expected to attend to each day and the short amount of time allowed for each one. While some of us are responsible hotel guests who don’t throw our towels all over the floor, ask for our linens to be changed every day or write notes in lipstick to our beloved on the mirror (a common complaint of hotel workers around Valentine’s Day), others are not so courteous.
The Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union has advocated for a more reasonable schedule to help prevent injuries. So-called “rush rooms” that have to be cleaned immediately for guests checking in are a particular problem.
Some of the potential dangers to hotel cleaners are somewhat predictable, while others are less so. They include:
— Back and shoulder injuries from bending, lifting and making beds
— Fall-related injuries from slippery floors or things left on the floor
— Foot and leg problems, particularly for older workers
— Rashes and other skin problems from using strong cleaners
— Joint problems from kneeling on hard floors
— Needles or other sharp objects left in towels
Drunk or violent guests can also be a problem. In 2011, International Monetary Fund chairman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, once considered a potential French presidential candidate, saw his career take a nosedive after he was accused by a New York maid of sexual assaulting her when she came to clean his hotel suite.
While cleaning hotel rooms is never going to be an easy job, there are steps that hotel owners can take to help reduce the risk of injury and physical wear and tear on their employees. Georgia residents who are injured or sickened on the job should look at their options for workers’ compensation so that they do not have to pay a financial price for getting the proper treatment and taking the time they need to heal.
Source: HealthDay, “Hotel Workers: Room With a Crew,” Kristin Kloberdanz, M.A., accessed Aug. 17, 2015
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