Hotel Workers are at risk for injury.   They have demanding jobs that are time sensitive.  There are many tasks that they perform that can cause musculoskeletal disorders.   In addition, some workers use tools and materials which can place them at risk for skin and respiratory injuries.

There was a study awhile ago which analyzed work injuries in the Hotel Industry.   Moving forward from the study, you can see how the industry has dealt with the problem of  their high rate of workers’ compensation claims. At the time, the study found that the Hotel Industry was at high risk when compared to others. Disparities in the US Hotel Industry Susan Buchanan, MD, MPH, * Pamela Vossenas, MPH,  Niklas Krause, MD, PhD, Joan Moriarty, MS,  Eric Frumin, MA,  Jo Anna M. Shimek, MS, Franklin Mirer, PhD, CIH,  Peter Orris, MD, MPH,  and Laura Punnett, AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL MEDICINE 53:116–125 (2010)

This article will discuss Hotel Workers, their tasks, their rates of work injuries and the tactics that Risk Management has used to address the high rate of work injuries.

Why Should Hotel Employees Be Concerned?

Any time an Industry is subject to significant amounts of work injuries, Risk Management will take measures to reduce work injuries. These measures may impact Hotel Employees and how they perform their work assignments.   Additionally, it may impact how Injured Workers will be treated after claims have been reported.

Why Are Work Injuries in the Hotel Industry Important?

When the study was done, it was noted that “[w]ithin the US hospitality industry, hotels, and motels employ 1.8 million workers [USBLS, 2007b].” Supra.

At the time, the study reported the significant number of work injuries that occur at Hotels. “In the United States, hotel workers are nearly 40% more likely to be injured on the job than all other service sector workers. Hotel workers also sustain more severe injuries resulting in more days off work, more job transfers, and more medically restricted work compared to other employees in the hospitality industry [USBLS, 2005]. Supra.

What is the Service Industry?

The Service Industry is part of the employment/business sector that provides customer services and occasionally provides goods.   The Service Industry does not manufacture products.

Examples of the Service Industry include food services: i.e., McDonalds, Starbucks, and Taco Bell, retail, i.e.  Target, Walmart and Food-4-Less, transport, i.e. Greyhound and Southwest Airlines, and distribution, i.e. Fed-Ex, UPS and DHL.

Manufacturing and Raw Materials are the other employment/industrial sectors.

What is the Hotel Industry?

The Hotel Industry is considered as part of the “Hospitality Industry”.   The term “Hospitality Industry” includes additional employers such as food service, drink service, event planning, theme parks and transportation.

Who are Hotel Workers? What Do They Do? What Types of Labor Makes Them at Risk for Injury?

Hotel Workers have many titles and perform various tasks.  Hotel Workers have many job titles such as bartender, banquet server, cashier, chef, cook, dishwasher, door person, host, hostess, housekeeper, lobby attendant, pot washer, room attendant, and stewards.

Hotel tasks can be broken down into five distinct categories.  These are Housekeepers, Banquet Servers, Stewards/Dishwasher, Cooks/Kitchen Workers and Other.

What Tasks Do Housekeepers Perform?

”Housekeepers perform guest room cleaning including making beds, vacuuming floors, cleaning shower walls and bathroom fixtures, dusting furniture, and pushing carts.”  Occupational Injury Disparities in the US Hotel Industry Susan Buchanan, MD, MPH, * Pamela Vossenas, MPH,  Niklas Krause, MD, PhD, Joan Moriarty, MS,  Eric Frumin, MA,  Jo Anna M. Shimek, MS, Franklin Mirer, PhD, CIH,  Peter Orris, MD, MPH,  and Laura Punnett, AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL MEDICINE 53:116–125 (2010)

NOTE: Housekeepers perform physically arduous work.

What Tasks Do Banquet Servers Perform?

“Banquet servers provide food service such as carrying plated food from the kitchens to the customers, dispensing drinks, and supplying food to cafeteria and buffet services.” Supra.

NOTE: Banquet Servers perform physical activities which are time sensitive.

What Tasks Do Stewards/Dishwashers Perform?

“Stewards retrieve, sort, load/lift, unload, and return dishes, glasses, pots, utensils and silverware, and provide these items by pushing carts to cafeteria and buffet lines. In addition, stewards maintain cleanliness in food preparation areas.” Supra.

NOTE: Stewards/Dishwashers, like the Banquet Servers, perform physical activities which are time sensitive.

What Tasks Do Cooks/Kitchen Workers Perform?

Cooks lift, weigh, measure, mix, cut and grind food ingredients; they cook these ingredients and compose salads and other food for serving Supra.

NOTE: Cooks/Kitchen, like the Banquet Servers, perform physical activities which are time sensitive.   Likewise, they may also be involved in shift work.

What Tasks Do Others Perform?

All remaining jobs were categorized as “other.” Jobs classified as “other” were those that did not share similar job tasks or exposures with the other four key job categories. These included lobby attendant, cashier, door person, host/hostess, among others.  Supra.

NOTE: Other work may involve various physical activities as well as perform shift work.

What Are the General Types of Injuries that Hotel Workers Can Sustain?

Most commonly, Hotel Workers are subject to musculoskeletal injuries.

The study cited that “[a]mong Las Vegas hotel room cleaners, the prevalence of self-reported pain associated with work was 75% during the previous year [Scherzer et al., 2005]; 63% had had severe or very severe low back pain just in the prior month [Krause et al., 2005].” Supra.

Additionally, Hotel Workers who work with water or other liquids  or who use gloves as subject to “wet-work” injuries.  These injuries are to the skin, i.e. contact dermatitis.  For an article discussing “wet work,” click here.  Further Hotel workers may work with products that contain fragrances.   These products may cause respiratory injuries such as “occupational asthma.” For an article discussing “fragrance-related injuries,”  click here.

What Did the Study Tell Us About Hotel Workers?  As an Injured Worker, Should It Matter?

The study found that with respect to certain Hotel Employees that women had a greater rate of work injuries than men.  It found that there were some racial differences in that certain ethnic groups had greater injury rates than whites.

NOTE: With respect to these rates, it is this writer’s opinion that more data should be explored.  Non-English-Speaking workers may stay with a work position that is physically harming them longer than English Speaking workers.  One reason for them remaining on such as a job is that that their lack of English Fluency may limit their ability to obtain less physical employment.  As a result of this, they may at a greater risk of injury.  Thus, the ethnic group itself may not really be the issue. It may be more the ability of worker to seek other employment that is less injurious in nature.

How Does the High Rate of Work Injuries Impact Hotels?

Industries with high rates of workers’ compensation claims will seek to reduce their injury rates. Since the study, Hotel Risk Management has already taken steps to reduce injuries.   For those who visit hotels, it is apparent that what has been done.  Reducing staff hours and tasks translates into lower rates of injuries.   Many Hotels, under the auspices of being “green” encourage patrons to reuse towels and decline daily “room service.”   In doing so, labor time of laundry service and housekeeping is reduced.  Long term, if staff hours are reduced, staffing may in turn be reduced.  In sum, less employees.

With respect to food service workers, many catered events feature buffets and no longer offer table service.   Further, beverage stations are offered so that attendees can get their own coffee, juice, etc.. Again, less labor hours translates to less risk of injury.   In sum, less labor hours, less employees.

Additionally, Risk Management may engage in more surveillance of their employees via cameras to prove or disprove work injuries.   NOTE: This may be most effective with respect to specific injuries and not so much with respect to cumulative trauma injury claims.

What If I Need Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation concerning any workers’ compensation case, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 28 years. Contact us today for more information.


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