For immediate release
May 26, 2011
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Hazard memo underscores value of proposed SB 432 to help prevent housekeeper injury
LOS ANGELES – The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CalOSHA) has issued citations alleging that the Hyatt Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood has failed to comply with multiple state safety regulations. CalOSHA also highlighted concerns about repetitive motion injuries to housekeepers owing to potential hazards arising from the tasks of bed making and floor cleaning.
In an information memo issued to the Hyatt Andaz on May 20, CalOSHA identified instances of housekeepers who suffered medically-diagnosed repetitive motion injuries while making beds and cleaning bathroom floors on hands and knees.
The agency said the hotel should consider using fitted sheets and tools, among other measures, to prevent repetitive motion injuries to housekeepers.
CalOSHA put the Hyatt Andaz on notice, warning that if it fails to remedy these potentially hazardous conditions and workers become injured in the future, CalOSHA may issue citations. The agency advised that such citations could be classified as ‘willful,’ which is a more severe type of citation with potentially stiffer penalties.
The hazard memo – the first of its kind for hotels in California and nationwide – comes as state legislators weigh a proposed bill requiring hotels to provide long-handled tools and fitted sheets to prevent housekeeper injuries. The full Senate will vote on the legislation, SB 432 (D-De Leon), next week.
"Working as a housekeeper for 14 years has taken a toll on my body. When I injured my back making a bed, I was on medication for months," said Morena Hernandez, a Hyatt Andaz housekeeper. "I hope CalOSHA’s recommendation for fitted sheets and tools can help the hotel industry see that SB 432 can be a simple, positive way to make our jobs safer."
CalOSHA’s citations are a result of investigations following injury complaints lodged by Hyatt housekeepers in November 2010. In total, CalOSHA proposed $7,000 in fines against the Hyatt Andaz for various alleged safety violations found in the hotel.
"These recommendations, if taken seriously by Hyatt and the hotel industry, will make a housekeeper’s job significantly safer on a daily basis," said Pamela Vossenas, UNITE HERE Workplace Safety and Health Coordinator. "After years of housekeepers telling employers of their workplace pain and injury, CalOSHA directs the Hyatt Andaz’ and the hotel industry’s attention to reasonable solutions that can protect against the life-changing injuries that housekeepers are known to suffer."
SB 432 is designed to eliminate the very hazards that are the subject of CalOSHA’s information memo – injuries housekeepers endure from cleaning bathroom floors on their knees and lifting heavy mattresses repeatedly for lack of fitted sheets. The bill’s sponsor, the California Applicants Attorneys Association, has said it intends to amend the bill in the Assembly to clarify that the law will be enforced with existing OSHA staff, meaning no additional costs to the state. Another amendment will make clear that if a hotel can introduce a better ergonomic remedy to reduce housekeeper injury, it will be allowed to apply for a variance from the bill’s requirements.
The Hyatt has 15 working days to pay the $7,000 in proposed penalties or file an appeal.
UNITE HERE Local 11, Southern California’s hospitality union, represents more than 20,000 hotel and food service workers in Los Angeles and Orange counties. www.unitehere11.org