Category Archives: Injuries

California considering hotel housekeeper regulation

California’s state-run OSHA program has proposed a standard to prevent musculoskeletal injuries among hotel housekeepers. Read on to find out more about the effort and how long it’s been on the drawing board.

California osha housekeeping injury prevention

For years, advocates for hotel housekeepers have been pushing for a regulation to protect these workers, who are exposed to significant risks on the job. In January 2012, the union UNITE HERE filed a petition with the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) requesting the adoption of a standard to address a variety of hazards, including limiting the square footage that can be assigned to a worker during an eight-hour shift.

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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Housekeeping, Injuries, OSHA, Risk Management, Workers' Compensation

Husband and wife cheated workers’ compensation

Tip: This is why it is important for hotels to request certificate of insurance from their vendors. 


Indicted for hiding the existence of 800 hotel workerslaw, justice

Hyok “Steven” Kwon and his wife, Woo Hui “Stephanie” Kwon, were sentenced to prison yesterday (March 15) for concocting and carrying out a complicated scheme to avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance premiums and employment taxes for their janitorial company, Irvine-based Good Neighbor Services. He was sentenced to eight years in custody and she got four years and eight months. Each has been ordered to pay $5 million restitution to insurance carriers and the California Employment Development Department.

They were indicted in December for hiding the existence of 800 hotel workers and thereby evading personnel-related taxes. At the time of the indictment, their caper was considered the largest insurance premium fraud in San Diego history.

Among the hotels serviced by the company were the Hotel Del Coronado, Grand Del Mar, La Costa Resort & Spa, Loews Coronado, and L’Auberge Del Mar.

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Pooling Responsibilities

Almost everyone going on holiday to a warm climate will, at some point, end up in a swimming pool. But the ‘do not dive’ signs and depth warnings don’t always have the desired effect, added to which are huge variations in safety laws. Robin Gauldie assesses the dangers lurking in the depthshotel pool,underwater swimming, pool safety

Clearly, there are risks associated with swimming or even paddling on beaches where strong currents, tides and freak waves can take their toll, as can irresponsible use of powered beach toys like personal watercraft, banana boats and water skis (see ITIJ 193, February 2017, The fast and the furious … and the fatal). Yet swimming pools at resort hotels and holiday villas may ultimately be riskier than beaches for vacationers and their insurers. Travelers from countries such as Australia and the UK, where safety standards are rigorous, need to be made aware that such standards are not universal.
“As Australia has such strict water safety rules, some people assume swimming areas are safe everywhere in the world,” comments Richard Warburton, chief operating officer of 1Cover Travel Insurance, an Australian insurer. “The truth is, many popular overseas destinations, such as Thailand and Bali, just don’t have the same safety protocols in place, and holidaymakers may be at greater risk when swimming. For example, pool gates are virtually non-existent in many Asian and European destinations.”

Resort pools seem to provoke risky behaviour in a significant number of holidaymakers too. Each holiday season brings a crop of media stories covering accidents – sometimes fatal – involving tourists jumping into hotel pools from balconies, or diving into shallow pools. “Some people, particularly young adult males, take risks they wouldn’t normally take if they were at home,” says Warburton. “They don’t think of consequences.” There is an ongoing need to make insureds aware that travel insurance has its limits, he adds.

In Europe particularly, the craze known as ‘balconing’ is often a result of an alcohol-fuelled night out giving holidaymakers a sense of invincibility. Warburton, though, warns: “One of the most common misconceptions people have about travel insurance is in relation to alcohol consumption. If an accident happens and a person is under the influence, they may not be able to successfully make a claim, depending on the circumstances. This is why we encourage customers to thoroughly read all the terms and conditions of their policy. We strive to be as transparent as we can, educating customers about all facets of the policies. We want to ensure people fully understand what their policy covers them for, so they can make properly informed decisions.”

According to Megan Freedman, executive director of the US Travel Insurance Association, insurers in the US would be unlikely to turn down claims for the costs of medical treatment or assistance arising from such accidents on the sole grounds of recklessness. “Claims would not be excluded based on irresponsible behavior. However, a claim may be denied if the cause was use of alcohol or drugs, intentional self-infliction of harm or an illegal act,” she says. Some policies in the UK, by contrast, specifically exclude claims resulting from falls or jumps from balconies, as accidents and subsequently expensive medical claims resulting from such activities have arisen so often.

Preventing tragedies
Reckless teenagers, however hair-raising their escapades, are not the only source of claims arising from pool accidents. Even in destinations that are famed for their beaches and long coastlines, such as Greece or the Algarve, almost all drownings of young children occur in swimming pools, according to the European Child Safety Alliance (ECSA). In Australia, too, tourist-related swimming pool deaths involving very young children continue to be of concern, according to the Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC). The organisation has called on the tourism industry to implement water safety and risk management plans in resorts and hotels, including signage, effective barriers and education programs.
In many destinations, most such drownings occur in pools at private residences, but a significant number happen in the pools of resort hotels or holiday villas, as is the case with the much more numerous non-fatal accidents that take place in and around swimming pools each holiday season. The ECSA has estimated that for every child fatality, there may be as many as 140 near-drownings resulting in hospital admissions.

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New OSHA 300 Reporting Rules

OSHA has updated the rule that pertains to the reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses. The new rule requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data beginning in 2017. The goal of the rule is to encourage employers to better identify hazards, address safety issues, and prevent future injuries and illnesses.

Work Injury reporting

New Electronic Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers with 20-249 employees in certain industries must electronically submit their Form OSHA 300A information for the year 2016 by July 1, 2017. Hotels (except Casino Hotels) and Motels, NAICS code 7211, are included in the “certain industries” listing.

  • These same employers must electronically submit their Form OSHA 300A information for 2017 by July 1, 2018.
  • Beginning in 2019, and every year thereafter, these employers must submit the Form OSHA information by March 2, 2019.

OSHA State Plan Alignment

OSHA State Plan states must adopt and enforce these requirements (or substantially identical requirements) within 6 months after the publication of the final rule.

New Whistleblower Protection

Prohibits employers from retaliation against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. (Effective November 1, 2016)



If an OSHA inspection occurs and your organization is required to keep an OSHA 300 log, you will need to present a copy during the inspection or within 4 hours of OSHA’s request for the log.


This information is available on the OSHA website.

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Filed under Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Injuries, OSHA, Training, Workers' Compensation

Keeping Hotel Housekeepers Safe

A hotel housekeeper’s duties can be grueling and intense – and can result in serious injuries.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2013 shows that hotel and motel workers had a nonfatal injury and illness rate of 5.4. The rate for all industries was 3.5.

“As more amenities continue to be offered in hotel rooms, housekeepers often are having to work even harder and more quickly,” said Gary Allread, program director of the Institute for Ergonomics at Ohio State University in Columbus.


Advocates are calling for stronger protections and better ergonomics training for hotel housekeeping workers.

More work, more hazards

In 2012, hospitality workers union UNITE HERE sent a petition to the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. The petition called for a standard to protect hospitality workers as hotels compete to offer more luxurious settings for their guests. Upgraded mattresses can weigh more than 100 pounds, UNITE HERE claims, and bath linen is larger and heavier – putting housekeeping workers at risk of overexertion. More amenities, such as larger mirrors and TVs, have to be cleaned.

“What you’re seeing now when you go into the hotel room, it’s not just two pillows on a bed, it’s four or five,” said Lorne Scarlett, industry specialist with the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, also known as WorkSafe BC. “That process they go through stuffing a pillow, they’re doing that four to five times per bed. The cleanliness of the room is scrutinized by the larger, luxury hotels. They’re not just doing a light dust. They’re doing a very determined clean each time.”

According to Ohio State University, other injury risk factors are:

  • “Forceful exertions,” including pushing heavy carts and using vacuum cleaners
  • Awkward postures while cleaning bathrooms and other areas
  • Repetitive motions, such as cleaning mirrors and changing pillowcases Maintaining postures for long periods
  • Little rest

“The good thing is we can reduce those risks through just plain, out-front awareness and education,” Scarlett said.

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Reduce Workplace Injuries, Boost Productivity

High levels of customer satisfaction in the hospitality and leisure industries are critical to the success of any property. It is even more challenging to maintain customer satisfaction while reducing costs associated with employee injuries and the workers’ compensation claims. Employees are continually trained on the nuances of customer service skills and customer interactions in order to achieve the best levels of service. However, maintaining a high level of productivity is difficult when employees have been injured. Increasing injury rates result in higher workers’ compensation insurance, medical care, and claim costs.

Taking a look at the causes of work-related injuries, implementing standardized work practices, and making simple changes can yield a significant decrease in injury risk and an increase in productivity. A single property within a national hotel chain has been able to decrease its workers’ compensation costs by $500,000 in the first year while improving its customer satisfaction ratings.

Within the U.S. hospitality and leisure industry, food services and accommodations employees represent 12.9 million of the 15 million employees. In 2014, the recordable injury rate among these employees was 3.6 injuries per 100 full-time employees. These injury rates can be higher among employees in departments such as housekeeping and banquet operations. One study indicated that up to 95 percent of the housekeepers indicated they experienced severe to very severe physical pain.

Any effective ergonomics and process improvement program should include aspects such as management support, employee involvement, training, problem identification, early reporting of injury symptoms, evaluation of hazard controls, implementation of hazard controls, and evaluation of progress.


Effective administration and implementation of each aspect is important, but knowing which changes will bring the most improvement in productivity and injury reduction can make a big difference.


Let’s take a look at housekeeping: Their work ensures proper cleaning as well as maintaining the visual standards of the brand. Over the past decade, consumers’ expectations of luxury as it relates to hotel rooms have increased. Furnishings are more luxurious and often include thicker mattresses, plush duvets, decorative bed skirts, and the inclusion of a variety of pillows.

In an effort to reduce injury risk while maintaining or improving customer satisfaction within a housekeeping department, we reviewed common tasks and identified the tasks that were most likely to cause injury. A detailed study was conducted of these common housekeeping tasks, such as cleaning bathrooms, changing and making beds, and removing trash and soiled linen. The evaluations determined the extent of injury risk factors and opportunities to improve the quality of the services performed. After the analysis, recommendations were made related to the selection of appropriate tools, the modification of techniques for cleaning showers and bath tubs to decrease awkward postures and minimize forces, and the identification of methods to minimize awkward postures and forces while changing beds and handling trash and dirty linens. One key factor in the success of these changes was training the employees in the appropriate methods, injury risk factors, and the proper use of tools. The changes made within the housekeeping department decreased duvet-making time by 32 percent while maintaining a standard look; reduced the number of awkward shoulder postures by 72 percent; and reduced the number of awkward back postures by 45 percent. Guests indicated an improvement by a 5 percent increase in customer cleanliness ratings.

Another department that commonly experiences a high number of injuries is the banquet operations department. Within the banquets area, server and setup tasks were also evaluated. Following similar principles, tasks were identified that had previously caused injury or were difficult to perform. Evaluations were again conducted and recommendations were made. These recommendations involved working with vendors to identify the changes to carts that could make the most impact on decreasing push/pull forces while not decreasing the load on the carts. Additionally, standardized methods of room setup and table movement were established. These simple changes and employee training yielded a decrease in injury risk, improved employee morale, and increased efficiency.

Maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction while minimizing employee injuries and workers’ compensation costs in hospitality and leisure industry is critical to the success of any property. Evaluation of tasks by a qualified professional (such as a certified professional ergonomist) can ensure that risk factors are appropriately identified and that the recommendations will adequately reduce injury risk. Minimizing costs, reducing injuries, improving efficiency, and improving customer satisfaction ratings are benefits of a successful ergonomics and process improvement program.

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New Robotic Exoskeleton Technology is Here From Panasonic

Mobility may be one of the most important elements in maintaining personal autonomy. And now, thanks to the incredible technology behind robotic exoskeletons, the elderly, the injured, and many others can experience mobility like never before. In a new video, Panasonic unveils its latest achievements in the robotics field, applying advanced control and sensor technologies to create a motor-equipped robot that will assist with human body mechanics.

Panasonic has developed a pair of suits — one meant primarily for industrial purposes, and another to help the disabled. The power assist suits will help users perform manual labor and potentially dangerous tasks in a range of worksites, and Hiromichi Fujimoto, president of Activelink Co. (one of Panasonic’s in-house venture companies) noted, “We are proposing robotics to help at these worksites, because there will always be a certain level of work that must be done by people, and these power assist suits can help reduce the physical strain during such work.”

To help with lifting and carrying heavy loads, Panasonic has introduced the AWN-03, an assist suit designed specifically to provide lower back support. By sensing the wearer’s motion when lifting or holding heavy objects, the suit sends a signal to its motors to jump into action. By raising the user’s upper body while simultaneously pushing on their thighs, the suit promises to reduce stress on the lower back by 15 kg.


There are also two additional suits that could be used in industrial settings — the PLN-01 (the “Ninja”) is meant to help the user’s motion while walking and running, whereas the Power Loader is heralded as a powerful suit perfect for use during disaster relief, construction, and public works.

On the other end of the spectrum, Panasonic has unveiled suits meant for the elderly. “As Japan has becomes an aging society, Panasonic is aspiring to make its contribution by supporting the elderly and their families lead a comfortable life full of smiling faces and laughter” explained Hitoshi Sasaki, assistant director of Sincere Kourien, an elderly care facility run by Panasonic Age-Free. “There are many instances that can be straining to both caregivers and care recipients. Just moving from the bed to a wheelchair can be a very energy consuming for both parties.”

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Hospitality Industry Risk Management Update: “Settlement Deal Reached in Hotel Pool Electrocution”

The investigation showed that the Hilton Westchase did not meet city, state, and national electrical codes and that the pool did not have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) on the pool lighting systemHouston Hilton – which are standard safety features in pool construction, or kitchen and bathroom design, where electrical systems might come in contact with water.

A final civil settlement was reached Monday in a hotel swimming pool electrocution death that a devastated family claimed was “gross negligence of epic proportions.”

Raul Hernandez Martinez, 27, died 6 days after the 2013 Labor Day weekend incident.

He and his family had gathered at the Hilton Houston Westchase hotel and several family members were in the hotel swimming pool when the pool lights came on.

Martinez’ little brother David Duran, 11, began to convulse in the deep end of the pool. Their mom, Maria Isabel Duran, tried to reach the boy but was shocked unconscious by the electrical current.

Family members pulled her from the pool where she was revived via CPR. Martinez, meanwhile, reached his little brother and pushed him to the edge where others pulled the boy out.

But Martinez became motionless as the current continued to surge through the pool.

Rescued and revived, he never recovered and was removed from life support 6 days later.

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Hospitality Industry Risk Update: “L.A. Hotel Fire Kills 1, Injures 15; Some Jump From Windows to Escape”

“Of the 29 people who were staying at the hotel, 15, including a child, were hurt and suffered minor to serious injuries, fire officials said. Most of the injured suffered broken bones from jumping,LA hotel fire fire officials said. Alejandro Lopez, 40, said he was trapped inside his room and the intense flames left him with only one option: Jump out of the window.”

A man was killed and 15 were injured when flames overtook a hotel early Thursday in Wilmington, forcing some people to jump out of windows.

People were trapped by flames inside the two-story Wilmington Hotel at 111 E. C St. shortly after 3 a.m. as firefighters arrived, said Erik Scott, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Other hotel residents jumped out of windows to escape the flames.

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Hospitality Industry Risk Management Update: “Work Comp Control Can Prevent Employees from Early Check-Out”

We recently read an account of a 48-year-old female who had two complete knee replacements and got hired as a housekeeper.backinjuries-620x330 Within the first three months, she injured her bad knee, and the cost of her workers’ comp claim will be in the tens of thousands of dollars. If this employee had received a pre-placement screening prior to her hiring, the doctor may have recommended her for a different position

According to a recent study by the National Institute of Health (NIH), hotel workers have higher rates of occupational injury and illness compared with workers in other service industries, particularly in the area of musculoskeletal disorders. So is it any wonder why so many hotel employers are throwing up their arms in surrender every time they see their workers’ compensation premiums soar out of control? Many employers treat those premiums with a “there’s nothing I can do about it” mentality when there actually is something that can be done.

The starting point is always your experience mod, or the numbers that dictate what you will pay in premiums, based on your industry. Fifty percent of all experience modifiers are incorrect, and 80 percent of all experience modifiers are mismanaged. You need to understand the importance of managing and reducing your experience modifier—it’s not just a number. Taking a passive or nonchalant attitude can cost you plenty. And this can happen in a number of ways: misclassifications, incorrect payroll audits, recovery at work programs that are weak or in some cases non-existent, and an overall lack of an established safety culture.

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