California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has adopted a new rule to help reduce injuries for hotel housekeepers.
Cal/OSHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board approved the rule in a 5-0 vote on Thursday.
The rule will require employers to establish, implement and maintain an effective written musculoskeletal injury prevention program that addresses hazards specific to housekeeping, according to Cal/OSHA.
“Hotel housekeepers are the invisible backbone of the hospitality industry,” Pamela Vossenas, New York-based director of worker safety and health for union Unite Here, said Friday in a statement. “Overwhelmingly women, immigrants and people of color, housekeepers face high rates of workplace injury. The state of California has recognized the seriousness of the dangers housekeepers face and took an important step to protect these workers.”
Lifting 100-pound mattresses and pushing heavy carts and vacuums can lead housekeepers to suffer strain, sprain and tear injuries that can require physical therapy or even lead to permanent disability, according to the union, which first petitioned Cal/OSHA to develop a standard to protect hospitality workers from injury in 2012.
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According to the OSHA release, the serious violations at Kauai Beach Resort involved storage, handling and labeling of propane tanks, electrical wiring, electrical work practices by untrained maintenance personnel, and training and use of personal respiratory and electrical protective equipment.
A popular Kauai hotel received 14 workplace safety and health standards violations on Thursday, and nine of them were serious enough for the U.S. Department of Laborâ€™s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to take action. Kauai Beach Resort in Lihue faces a total of $48,000 in proposed fines. Kai Management Services of Lihue, the management company for Kauai Beach Resort, received the violations following a routine inspection conducted on Feb. 14 by the OSHA Honolulu Area Office.
- Workers mixing chlorine for swimming pools do not present a hazard to swimmers. Failing to follow proper safety precautions puts the workers health in jeopardy and it is the responsibility of the employer to train them, he said.
- The maid service handles chemicals and it is the responsibility of management to ensure they are trained and using safety equipment, he said.
- Untrained workers altering the wiring of an electrical panel in performing day-to-day maintenance is a serious violation. Management must ensure that only qualified personnel work on energized circuits, he said.
- Another violation included the incorrect use of flexible cords as substitutes for fixed wiring. In some instances this occurs from daisy-chaining several electrical strips in an industrial kitchen, where an overload from high amperage appliances could cause melting and a fire hazard, Lemke said.
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