Unprecedented agreement in hotel industry requires hotel to conduct “job hazard analysis,” implement safety reforms, and establish Housekeeping Committee
Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel withdrew its appeal to the California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board of citations related to housekeeper injuries and agreed to a settlement that is unprecedented in the hotel industry. The settlement commits Hyatt to take specific steps, including the establishment of a Housekeeping Committee, to prevent exposure to unsafe conditions that cause housekeeper injuries.
“This settlement is a big victory for Hyatt housekeepers,” said Nenita Ibe, who has worked at Hyatt Regency Santa Clara for 10 years. “Hyatt is being forced to pay attention to the injuries housekeepers get at work. I’ve seen so many of my co-workers in pain. Now, Hyatt will have to listen to what housekeepers have to say. Hopefully, Hyatt will make the required changes so housekeepers won’t get hurt on-the-job.”
In November 2011, Cal-OSHA cited the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf alleging violations of the state’s repetitive motion injury rule. As part of the government’s in-depth investigation, several housekeepers were interviewed and physically demanding tasks such as bedmaking, bathroom cleaning and pushing heavy carts were observed.
As a result of the settlement, the citation was amended to state that “at and prior to the time of the CalOSHA inspection, Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf did not establish, implement and maintain certain elements of an effective Injury Illness Prevention Program with respect to housekeeper job tasks.” An effective injury prevention program is required under California law, Title 8 CCR 3203(a).
As part of the settlement, Hyatt must:
- Conduct a “job hazard analysis” using ergonomic principles to evaluate housekeeper tasks for unsafe or unhealthy exposures related to musculoskeletal disorders;
- Establish a “Housekeeping Committee” to discuss and make recommendations related to housekeeper safety; The Committee will include at least 8 employees, half of whom must be non-management housekeepers chosen by their co-workers;
- Provide housekeeper safety training programs on injury reporting and correct use of ergonomic interventions;
- Ensure availability of bed-tucking and long-handled tools and modify current housekeeping carts;
- Explore the feasibility of reducing the difficulty and number of bed-making tucks, and present findings to the government.
Bedmaking tucks are associated with increased mattress lifts, awkward postures and finger and wrists sprains.
Hyatt is required to pay reduced fines of $6,460.
Housekeepers at the hotel joined other Hyatt housekeepers in November 2010 in eight US cities in filing complaints with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) agencies about repetitive motion and other workplace injuries. For the past two years, housekeepers tried to get management at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf hotel to address their health and safety concerns.
“This is a groundbreaking settlement if effectively put into place by Hyatt,” said Pamela Vossenas, UNITE HERE health and safety expert. “Not only does it make clear the need for monitoring ergonomic hazards of housekeeping tasks but it also specifies tools and work practices to reduce housekeeper injuries and secures a voice on the job for housekeepers’ health and safety.”
In May 2012, federal OSHA issued a corporate-level letter to the Hyatt Corporation identifying ergonomic risks that housekeepers face on the job. The first such letter for the hotel industry, it recommends simple steps for the Hyatt Corporation to take such as providing fitted sheets, mops and long handled tools to reduce ergonomic strain. In 2011, the hotel industry lobbied against state legislation that would make housekeeping work safer by requiring fitted sheets and long handled tools such as mops or similar devices.
UNITE HERE! Local 2, represents 12,000 hospitality and food service workers in San Francisco and San Mateo counties.