As of July 1, hotel housekeepers are protected by added regulations aimed at reducing the risks of musculoskeletal and repetitive-stress injuries. HospitalityNet reports it’s the first time in history regulations have been tailored to protect hotel housekeepers.
California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health now enforces new ergonomic standards, which require hotels and lodging establishments to create, implement and sustain an effective Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program.
Housekeepers are at high risk of musculoskeletal and repetitive-stress injuries because of the daily demands of the job, including moving heavy carts, linen and mattresses, as well as using awkward postures and repetitive motions.
Statistics continue to show hotel employees have higher injury rates than other service workers. Housekeeper injury rates are even higher, with nearly 8 percent of housekeepers experiencing injuries each year, compared to about 5 percent of all hotel employees.
The number of housekeeper injuries reported to the California Workers' Compensation Information System (WCIS) has increased by nearly 1,000 claims in recent years. Members from the labor union UNITE HERE began petitioning the state in 2012 for additional legal protections for housekeepers.
Musculoskeletal Injuries Leading Cause of Work Injury Claims
Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common cause of workplace injury, accounting for nearly one-third of workers’ compensation costs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs are injuries that affect the musculoskeletal system (muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.).
Common musculoskeletal injuries include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Degenerative disc disease
- Ruptured/herniated disc
- Radial tunnel syndrome
- Muscle, tendon, ligament strain
Primary risk factors include poor ergonomics. Force, repetition and posture can over time result in repetitive-stress injuries. Proper posture and a properly designed work environment are key factors in reducing the risk of such injuries.
Proving Musculoskeletal Work-Injury Claims in San Diego
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 70 million doctor’s office visits each year are for musculoskeletal conditions. That makes these claims a primary target of insurance companies and their attorneys. Unfortunately, the fact that many of these claims can be difficult to prove means employers and their insurance companies are often successful in defending such claims, particularly if an injury victim lacks the help of an experienced San Diego workers’ compensation attorney.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, back injuries and arthritis/osteoarthritis were among the most common types of musculoskeletal work-injury claims. Proof of these conditions is subjective, as evidence does not always show up on x-rays or through diagnostic testing. Insurers will often attempt to use this to their advantage by arguing the condition is not serious, or even that a victim is malingering or faking symptoms or injury.
The best bet for proving musculoskeletal or repetitive-stress injuries is careful documentation and experienced legal help. Contact the Law Office of Robert A. McLaughlin to discuss your options.