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Risks and Hazards in the Hotel Industry

Maid At WorkIn 2008, nearly 1.8 million people were reported as working in the traveler/accommodations industry subsector, more than 400,000 of which were specifically hotel room cleaners. Specific duties of these workers include dusting, vacuuming, changing linens, and cleaning bathrooms of hotel rooms.

According to the CDC, most hotel cleaners are women and many are immigrants and minorities. In a recent study, it was determined that hotel cleaners had the highest rates of injury of all jobs in the hotel industry, and that Hispanic females had the highest individual injury rate.

When we think of injuries that occur in the workplace, strained backs and contusions – injuries that occur within more physically strenuous occupations – are often what come to mind. For workers in the hotel and accommodations industry, however, workplace injuries can just as destructive. Here is a list of safety hazards in the travel/accommodations subsector, according to NIOSH:

  • Ergonomic hazards (bending, pushing carts, making beds)
  • Trauma hazards that include slips, trips and falls
  • Respiratory, dermal and carcinogenic hazards from chemicals in cleaning products
  • Mold and microbial contaminants
  • Infectious agents
  • Occupational stress due to heavy workloads, lack of adequate supplies, job insecurity, low pay and discrimination.

In this case, a significant part of the problem stems from recognition; employers need to be focused on recognizing the risks and hazards associated with the duties they ask their employees to fulfill, regardless of the industry.

All employers should have the common goal of protecting the health and wellbeing of their employees, because healthy employees result in a positive workplace culture, higher productivity and morale, and the foundation for minimal turnover.

How can employers take responsibility for their employees’ overall health and wellbeing? NIOSH has outlined steps that can be taken to address risks and hazards in the traveler/accommodations industry, which can be found on their website.

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