Housekeepers urge adoption of new policy to prevent debilitating injuries
LOS ANGELES — Hotel housekeepers joined U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis at the Action Summit on Worker Safety and Health on Thursday, April 26, at East LA College to discuss the hidden dangers hotel workers face daily.
The event, scheduled on Workers’ Memorial Day, is part of the Labor Secretary’s new education and outreach effort to keep workers safe.
“We rush from room to room, lifting heavy mattresses, scrubbing floors on our knees and climbing to reach high surfaces,” said Linda Lopez, a Hyatt Century Plaza housekeeper. “Our bodies can’t sustain this kind of work over the course of career.”
The injury rate for hotel workers is 62% higher than for all service workers, according to the recent government data. Among these hotel workers, one peer-reviewed study showed that housekeepers suffer the highest injury rates of all. Another study of almost 1,000 housekeepers reported that more than three-quarters experienced work-related pain during the last 12 months. 62% of these visited a doctor for their pain.
Hotel housekeeper Argelia Rico will join a construction worker and nurse on a panel discussing new strategies to make workplaces safer. In one such strategy, housekeepers and their union, UNITE HERE, are pushing for a new Cal/OSHA safety standard that will to prevent disabling injuries in the hospitality industry. The proposed rule would create a systematic safety roadmap for hotels to follow such as providing safe equipment and identifying job hazards unique to housekeeping.
Similarly, hotel housekeepers have proposed a bill in the California legislature to require that hotels use fitted sheets and long-handled tools to prevent injury.
“We cannot keep sweeping housekeeper pain and injury under the rug. With common sense solutions like giving housekeepers fitted sheets and mops, we can go a long way toward preventing debilitating injuries. We must take action now,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.