While many occupations carry the risk of illness or injury, some fields are more labor-intensive than others, and, therefore, may require additional precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the workers. Hotel employees, and particularly room cleaners, are among that group of workers.
In 2008, close to 1.8 million people were employed in the so-called traveler and accommodations industry. Of those, approximately 400,000 people were employed as room cleaners in hotels. Room cleaners' job responsibilities can be physically taxing, as they often involve a large amount of bending and reaching. In a given day, a hotel room cleaner could be involved in large variety of job duties, including cleaning bathrooms, changing bed linens, dusting and vacuuming.
Experts have determined that hotel room cleaners are the most at risk of sustaining injuries of all hotel employees. Common injuries sustained by housekeepers are musculoskeletal injuries caused by the physical nature of the job, respiratory illnesses caused by substances in commonly used cleaning products and skin inflammations. In addition, hotel room cleaners are at risk of contracting infectious diseases, as they are often exposed to various waste products that can be dangerous. Hotel room cleaners are also often subjected to heavy workloads, which can lead to stress-related illnesses.
Employers are expected to provide safe workplaces for their employees. For housekeepers in hotels, this requirement may entail purchasing ergonomic cleaning supplies, such as vacuum cleaners and mops with long handles, to allow workers to perform their duties while standing upright.
Hotel employees who have sustained injuries or illnesses while on the job may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits. In such situations, consulting with a skilled workers' compensation attorney is the first step in ensuring the injured party's rights are protected.
Source: CDC, "Safety and Health among Hotel Cleaners."
For more information, please visit our Philadelphia service industry workers page.