According to the latest data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 500,000 employees working in hotels reported a workplace injury in 2016. Of those, 159,000 missed at least one day of work. Employees missing work due to injury means lost productivity and money for the company, and pain and suffering for the employee. Identifying common work place injuries and risks is the first step in lowering the number of employees who suffer injury.
Musculoskeletal injuries are one of the most common injuries in the hospitality industry, specifically for those working in housekeeping. According to Briotix Ergonomist Stefan Schulz, there are three simple practices those completing housekeeping tasks can implement to reduce the risk of these musculoskeletal injuries.
Reduce the Risk of Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury with These 3 Work Practices
1. Reduce the Time Spent In a Forward Bending Position
Injuries to the lower back are extremely common for those who spend significant time completing housekeeping tasks. The constant strain of making beds and cleaning hard to reach items puts strain on one's back. Two easy to implement strategies for reducing the time spent bending forward include:
- When tucking in bed sheet corners squat and put one knee on the ground. This will help your back stay in a neutral position when making a bed.
- When cleaning something above your head, move as close to the object as possible to ensure you are not leaning or reaching too far.
2. Make Frequent, Small Trips
One greatly reduces the risk of a musculoskeletal injury when the weight one is carrying, pulling or pushing is reduced. Instead of overloading oneself with excess items, it is much better to take two or even three trips when possible. An example of this might be reducing the weight of a laundry cart. Instead of filling the cart with linens from an entire hotel floor, only fill the cart with half of the linens, take it down to the laundry, and then make a return trip to move the rest.
3. If You Have Tools, Use Them
There are many tools that exist to help reduce workplace injuries but it is not uncommon to find them being unused in the workplace. These tools are specifically designed to assist with housekeeping tasks and reduce the strain on the body. Dusting and reaching tools are wonderful for minimizing the awkward postures often required for cleaning a bathroom. Bed tools are excellent tools for minimizing the force of lifting a mattress. If you are not comfortable using the tools or think they hinder more than help, Ergonomists recommend you give yourself a few weeks of using them to get used to the tool before you discard it as not helpful.
Creating a Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program
California is addressing musculoskeletal injuries in the housekeeping industry head on with the new Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) Board state regulation requiring California hotels and motels to have a unique injury prevention plan for their housekeeping departments. To assist companies with the new standard, which will be adopted in spring 2018, Briotix has created a free, comprehensive checklist which can be used by management to make changes to current practices and ensure compliance.
Once an action plan is created, the first step in preparing for the new requirement is to have a worksite evaluation conducted to identify hazards specifically for housekeeping staff. The professional Ergonomists at Briotix have put together a comprehensive evaluation tool that will not only identify these hazards but also ensure that companies are in compliance with the new standard.
What does a Briotix Musculoskeletal worksite evaluation entail?
- Systematic and Comprehensive Review of Current Practices
All Musculoskeletal Risk Reduction Assessments begin with detailed observation and data collection of a company’s current policies and practices. In order to comply with the new California requirements, this review will focus on the practices of both housekeeping staff members and management. Our team will spend significant time in your work facility using a customized observation tool that includes all aspects of the new standard. This way we can guarantee companies that use our findings to guide their practices will be in compliance.
- Data-Driven Evaluation of Risks and Priorities
Once the observation and data collection is complete, we will review our findings to identify the risks and hazards with your current practices. From there, we will then prioritize these risks, based on the California standard, to create a detailed action plan to comply.
- Recommendation of Solutions to Implement
The final step in our musculoskeletal evaluation process is to provide solutions for the risks we’ve identified and then help implement those solutions. Our professional Ergonomists will identify solutions in one of three areas: training, equipment, or management control. Below is an example of solutions that may be provided if a hazard was identified with laundry carts:
- Training – Employees should receive education on the proper way to turn the cart to minimize the strain on their lower backs.
- Equipment – All laundry cart castors need maintenance to ensure they are properly lubricated for easy pushing.
- Management Control – A new management guideline should be created that requires housekeeping staff members to restock their carts at lunch time instead of filling up for the whole day in the morning.
Learn More about our Comprehensive Evaluations and Hotel Housekeeping Injury Prevention Programs
Reducing workplace injuries is important to all managers, not only for the wellbeing of their employees, but also to maintain productivity and save costs. To learn more about the comprehensive training and worksite assessments offered by Briotix, contact us today. We can help improve the safety of your work place while saving you money. Give us a call at 844-274-6849 ext. 112 or complete the online form and we will contact you.