OSHA Formally Warns Hyatt Its Workers Are At Risk

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In an unprecedented move in the hotel industry, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a formal Hazard Alert Letter to Hyatt Hotels that its housekeepers are in danger of injury because of Hyatt's policies. This is the first time in history that OSHA has issued a Hazard Alert Letter to a hotel chain.

The Hazard notice concludes a year-long investigation process of Hyatt properties nationwide led by OSHA, instigated by a major filing of injury complaints against the company in eight cities in 2010.

The letter echoes themes from a 2010 academic study released in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, examining 50 hotel properties from 5 different hotel companies. According to the study, Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate of all housekeepers studied when compared by hotel company.

The letter outlines the steps Hyatt can take to eliminate the problems. It comes on the heels of 18 citations against Hyatt and three citations against one of the chain's subcontractors for alleged violations of safety regulations that could total more than $118,000 in fines. Hyatt has also been instructed to keep track of injuries suffered by subcontractors, too, something they have avoided doing in the past.

Details of the problem:

Hotel housekeepers face the risk of injury due to heavy workloads. Lifting mattresses that can weigh over 100 pounds, pushing heavy carts across carpeted hallways, bending up and down to clean floors and make beds, and climbing to clean high surfaces all take a physical toll.

In a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine examining a total of 50 hotel properties from 5 different hotel companies, Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate of all housekeepers studied when compared by hotel company.

At some Hyatt hotels, room attendants clean as many as 30 rooms a day, nearly double what is commonly required in the industry. This workload leaves room attendants as little as 15 minutes to clean a room—that’s 15 minutes to make beds, scrub clean the toilet bowl, bathtub and all bathroom surfaces, dust, vacuum, empty the trash, change linens—among other things.

Rushing to complete the work takes a dangerous toll on workers’ bodies, in some cases leading to permanent injuries. Injured workers must often choose between continuing to work in pain or not working at all. A tough decision in today’s economy


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