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Calif. adopts rules for hotel housekeeper ergonomic protection

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A first in the country, California has adopted its own statewide workplace safety and health regulations to prevent and reduce ergonomic, work-related injuries to housekeepers in the hotel and hospitality industry, the California Department of Industrial Relations announced Tuesday.

The standard will help mitigate injuries suffered by hotel housekeepers, who frequently suffer musculoskeletal injuries from lifting mattresses, pulling linens, pushing heavy carts, and slipping, tripping or falling while cleaning bathrooms, according to a press release.

The regulations require employers in the hotel and lodging industry to establish, implement and maintain an effective musculoskeletal injury prevention program, known as MIPP. In 2012, hotel worker representatives presented a petition to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board requesting a new standard to regulate the specific hazards faced by hotel housekeepers, according to the release.

The rules, which will be enforced by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, was approved March 9 by the Office of Administrative Law and will become effective July 1.

“Hotel housekeepers have higher rates of acute and cumulative injuries compared to workers in other industries, and data shows those injuries have steadily increased,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said in a press statement. “This regulation requires employers to identify, evaluate and correct housekeeping-related hazards with the involvement of housekeepers and their union representative.”

Specifically, the MIPP must include procedures to identify and evaluate housekeeping hazards through worksite evaluations that include housekeeper input, procedures to investigate musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers, methods to correct identified hazards, and training of employees and supervisors on safe practices and controls, and a process for early reporting of injuries to the employer.