The Demands of Customer Service Can Be Physically Demanding
The hospitality industry is centered around providing exceptional customer service, and this pressure can have a significant impact on the well-being of employees. The focus is on meeting the wants and desires of patrons, rather than their basic needs, making the job of a hospitality worker physically demanding.
Injuries in the Hospitality Industry
One example of this is the role of a hotel housekeeper. To keep up with the competition, hotels have been adding luxurious amenities, such as thick mattresses, plush bedding, and decorative bed skirts, making the task of changing linens on a king-size bed a heavy lift. A housekeeper may lift 100 pounds to change a king-size bed’s linens 15-20 times a day, with four to five hours spent on beds alone. This, along with tasks such as carrying heavy linens, pushing and pulling carts, kneeling, stooping and climbing to clean bathroom floors, tubs and showers, can take a toll on the body.
The Risks of Injuries for Hotel Housekeepers
Hotel housekeepers are at a high risk for various types of injuries, including:
- Musculoskeletal disorders affecting the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and the neck and back.
- Acute injuries such as contusions, fractures, lacerations, burns, and strains/sprains.
- Exposure to chemicals.
- Stress caused by factors such as heavy workload, time constraints, and even sexual harassment/assault.
The statistics are staggering:
- Almost half of the hotel housekeepers surveyed by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reported experiencing severe or very severe bodily pain in the last month.
- 84% of them took pain medication to alleviate the pain caused by their work.
- 78% reported experiencing pain in the last year that was caused or made worse by their work.
Preventive Measures for Reducing Injuries among Hotel Housekeepers
Effective risk management protocols are necessary to minimize the prevalence and severity of injuries among hotel housekeepers. In this regard, Ohio State University’s Institute for Ergonomics, in partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), developed alternative work methods that can make the job of a housekeeper less strenuous. These include:
- Supply Carts: Position the heaviest or most frequently used items between the hips and chest, push the cart using both hands, empty trash from the cart frequently, and replenish the cart several times throughout the shift to minimize the load.
- Vacuuming: Reduce the force needed to push the vacuum by frequently emptying the bag and selecting the appropriate height setting for the carpet conditions, align your body with the path of the vacuum to minimize twisting of the back, and alternate vacuuming between the right and left hands.
- Cleaning Bathrooms: Minimize reaching and shoulder stress by standing inside the bathtub to clean the wall tile, as long as there is no risk of slipping, keep dirty towels off the floor as much as possible to limit bending, don’t carry heavy, wet towels, make smaller piles to reduce stress on the back and shoulders, do work at waist level as much as possible to reduce bending, and alternate arms when cleaning surfaces.
Effective Risk Management is Critical for Restaurant Workers
Working in a restaurant poses many risks, particularly when employees are striving to provide top-notch service. The most common injuries for restaurant workers are burns, lifting, and falls. To reduce the prevalence and severity of these injuries, effective risk management protocols are crucial. Here is a more detailed look into the risks that restaurant workers face:
- Musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and low back pain, are common among kitchen crew members, from cooks to dishwashers, as well as waitstaff who are constantly twisting, reaching and lifting.
- Ergonomic hazards include working in unnatural or awkward positions and standing for long periods of time.
- Slips, trips, and falls can occur from wet and slippery floors, either from water or food spills.
- Burns can be caused by hot surfaces, steam, deep fryers, and hot grease.
- Cuts and lacerations can result from using knives incorrectly or by using machines with no guards or malfunctioning guards.
- Chemical exposure can result from using or being around compounds used to clean and disinfect.
- Assault is a risk for workers who handle cash, as they may be vulnerable to workplace violence.
Minimizing Hazardous Conditions for Restaurant Workers
Ensuring the health and safety of restaurant employees is crucial for keeping them on the job. Here are some measures that can be taken to minimize hazardous conditions in the restaurant:
- Burn Prevention: Avoid loose clothing, keep sleeves buttoned, set pot handles away from burners, never leave hot oil or grease unattended, don’t move a heavy pot of hot liquid without help, use splash guards on fryers and fill fryers only halfway, and when working with fryers, use protective gear like hot pads, potholders, gloves or mitts.
- Cuts and Lacerations: Use knives that are the right size and suited to the job, use box cutters when opening boxes, never try to catch a falling knife, tuck fingers on the hand that’s holding the food while cutting, don’t leave knives soaking in water, when cleaning a slicer blade make sure the power is off and wipe from the center hub to the edge, always use a push stick to feed a meat grinder, never place fingers in the feed openings.
- Sprains, Strains, Slips and Falls: Utilize proper lifting techniques, wear appropriate footwear, vary repetitive tasks, clean spills immediately and place appropriate warning signs, keep aisles and passageways clear, and remove any tripping hazards such as cords or hoses.
It is also important to note that even when the most proactive steps are taken to prevent accidents, they can still happen. In such cases, it is essential that workers understand the full range of benefits they are entitled to in case of injuries on the job. A knowledgeable, experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can not only explain these benefits but also help ensure that the injured worker receives them.
“Workers’ Compensation for Injuries Sustained by Hospitality Industry Employees: Seek Legal Assistance from The Law Office of Dr. Peter M. Schaeffer”
Injuries sustained by hospitality industry employees can have serious and lasting impacts on their lives. If you are among those who have filed or are considering filing a Workers’ Comp claim and are uncertain about how to proceed, it is essential to seek legal assistance from a Workers’ Compensation lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you understand your rights.
At the Law Office of Dr. Peter M. Schaeffer, we have experienced attorneys who specialize in Workers’ Compensation claims, including those involving injuries sustained by hospitality industry employees. As one of the best law firms in California, we have offices located throughout the state, including in major locations such as Riverside, Perris, Sun City, Corona, Temecula, Moreno Valley, San Bernardino, Hemet, Victor Valley, Beaumont, Banning, Yucca Valley, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Indio Brawley.
Please do not hesitate to contact us to learn more about Workers’ Compensation and receive a consultation from one of our experienced attorneys. We are dedicated to helping our clients receive the support and benefits they deserve after sustaining on-the-job injuries in the hospitality industry.