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State Assembly to consider expanding protections for hotel cleaning staff

Here in California, higher-end hotels are constantly fighting with one another to keep their rooms full and their reservations booked. This means they are always on the lookout for new ways to distinguish themselves from the competition and create the best possible stay for guests. One way in which these higher-end hotels have sought to impress their guests is by purchasing luxury mattresses (often weighing up to 100 pounds) and other plush bedding. However is this so-called "amenities arms race" inadvertently causing serious work injuries?

According to some critics, hotel cleaning staff are now at an increased risk of suffering serious and debilitating back, arm, shoulder and neck injuries due to their having to constantly lift heavy mattresses to clean/change the bedding.

While most people may not know it (or believe it), hotel cleaning staff have one of the most dangerous jobs in the entire service industry.

Consider the following statistics:

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown that hotel cleaning staff average five injuries for every 100 workers (verses the average of 3.4 injuries for every 100 workers in all other service industry positions)
  • The American Journal of Industrial Medicine discovered that hotel cleaning staff have higher injury rates than all other hotel employees, including cooks, dishwashers and servers

In light of these staggering injury rates and the introduction of these new hotel mattresses, Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) introduced Senate Bill 432 (SB 432), a measure designed to prevent hotel cleaning staff from suffering serious back, arm, shoulder and neck injuries.

Specifically, the bill - which already passed the state Senate - would require all hotels in California to use only fitted sheets on their beds, thereby reducing the lifting of heavy mattresses by hotel cleaning staff.

In addition, SB 432 would also require all hotels to provide cleaning staff with mops/cleaning tools with long handles so they won't have to clean bathrooms on their hands and knees.

SB 432 - already encountering fierce opposition from the hotel industry - will likely come before the State Assembly for a vote sometime this month.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense law ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

The Los Angeles Times "Cutting back on housekeepers' heavy lifting" August 2, 2011

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