HOTEL WORKERS AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: HOTEL WORKERS SUSTAINING INDUSTRIAL INJURIES AND WORKERS COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

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.

 

SUN EXPOSURE AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WORK INJURIES FROM OCCUPATIONAL SUN EXPOSURE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Many Workers spend significant periods of time working outdoors.   This outdoor exposure during working hours can be a cause of Occupational Skin Disease.   If a cause of one’s Skin Disease is partially caused by work-related exposure, the Injured Worker is then able to make a claim for workers’ compensation claim and may be entitled to monetary compensation, temporary disability and permanent disability benefits, medical care, vocational rehabilitation benefits and death benefits.

“Currently, it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime, the majority diagnosed with nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC), which includes basal cell (BCC) and squamous cell (SCC) carcinomas.” Skin cancer as an occupational disease: the effect of ultraviolet and other forms of radiation Claudia C. Ramirez, MD, Daniel G. Federman, MD, and Robert S. Kirsner, MD

This article will discuss the nature of Sun Exposure Skin Diseases, What Occupations Are at Risk for Occupational Skin Disease, Statutes that Relate to Skin Disorders, and Case law discussing Skin Conditions.

What are Sun-Related Skin Diseases?

Sun Exposure can lead to various skin conditions. These include cancerous, pre-cancerous, and non-cancerous conditions. These can include photoaging -solar lentigo, wrinkles and loose or irregular skin. Pre-Cancerous Skin conditions include Actinic Keratosis.  Cancerous Conditions include Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Malignant Melanoma.

What Occupations are at Risk for Occupational Skin Disease?

Occupations at risk for Occupational Skin Disease include the following jobs: cabin attendants, construction workers, farmers, landscapers, physical education teachers, pilots, police officers, postal workers, roofers, telephone line workers, waterman, and welders.

What is Exposure? Are There Different Exposures?

“The damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation accumulate over the years. In general, the risk of developing skin cancer increases with the amount of time spent under the sun and the intensity of radiation. The intensity of radiation varies according to the season of the year, time of day, geographic location (latitude), elevation above sea level, reflection from surfaces (e.g., white sand or concrete, water, snow), stratospheric ozone, clouds, and air pollution.

Recent studies have focused on the effects of intermittent (short-term, occasional) sun exposure in comparison to chronic (long-term) exposure. It appears that the type of exposure may influence the type of cancer that develops. For example, intermittent solar exposure may be an important factor leading to the onset of basal cell carcinoma of the skin. …

In contrast, the relationship between squamous cell carcinoma and solar UVR appears to be quite different. For squamous cell tumours, high levels of chronic occupational sunlight exposure, especially in the 10 years prior to diagnosis, results in an elevated risk for this cancer in the highest exposure group.” https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/skin_cancer.html

Besides Typical Sun Exposure, Are There Other Suspected Causes of Occupational Skin Disease?

Yes. Irradiation, Nonionizing Microwave Frequencies, Cosmic Radiation, and Ionized Radiation are also suspected causes of Occupational Skin Disease.

“Although sun exposure is thought to be a common etiologic factor, some studies have suggested alternative explanations, such as irradiation from the welding arc in welders, nonionizing microwave frequency radiation from radar use in police officers, and cosmic radiation in pilots and cabin attendants. Disturbances in circadian rhythm have also been suggested as having a role in the increased risk of skin cancer in pilots and cabin attendants and should be elucidated in future studies. Occupations in which there is an increased exposure to ionizing radiation, such as radiation technicians and radiologists, showed an increased risk for melanoma and NMSC. Surprisingly, there is a paucity of publications regarding skin cancer incidence amongst lifeguards, ski instructors, professional cyclists, and other professionals who spend time outside as part of their jobs. Ample evidence exists, however, that amongst selected occupations skin cancer is an important occupational disease.” Skin cancer as an occupational disease: the effect of ultraviolet and other forms of radiation Claudia C. Ramirez, MD, Daniel G. Federman, MD, and Robert S. Kirsner, MD

Are There Any Labor Code Sections which Support Claims of Occupational Skin Disease?

Yes. With respect to the present issue of Sun-Related Occupational Skin Disease, there is the Cancer presumption which applies to both certain Law Enforcement and Safety Officers.   This is Labor Code Section 3212.1. For an article discussing the Cancer Presumption, click here.

Is There Case Law Concerning Sun Exposure?

Yes. A sample of sun-related cases include issues such as: Defendant claiming non-industrial sun exposure as the source of nasal cancer. See County Sanitation District No. 2 vs. WCAB (2004) 69 C.C.C. 1463;  Defendant disputing CT injury date in which there was a claim of multiple CT injury dates. Injury was claimed as skin cancer caused by sun exposure. City of Vista vs WCAB (2017) 83 C.C.C. 95; also see City of Corona vs. WCAB  (1997) 62 C.C.C. 1693.   In the matter, “Applicant was treated by Shira Young, M.D., and was evaluated by James Lineback, M.D. Dr. Young felt that there was a probability that sunlight played a role in the development of Applicant’s skin cancer. Dr. Lineback opined that it was reasonably probable that the skin lesions were directly related to sunlight exposure.”

Are There Anything a Worker Should Do?

In my years of representing Injured Workers, one of the most tragic cases I ever had was a melanoma case.  While the melanoma initially appeared in a location on the body which was not exposed to the sun, the cancer turned out to be fatal.  Despite seeking advanced medical treatment, the worker died shortly after he opened his claim.

Early detection of the disease is of import.   If you do so, there is a chance for a successful recovery.

For all those who work in the sun or with skin issues, you should check your skin on a regular basis and seek medical attention. Per the Centers for Disease Control, “[a] change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole. Not all skin cancers look the same.

For melanoma specifically, a simple way to remember the warning signs is to remember the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma—“A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?  “B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged? “C” is for color. Is the color uneven? “D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea? “E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?”

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.

 

Skin Conditions, Skin Diseases & Workers’ Compensation: What You Need to Know

California Workers’ Compensation Law covers injuries and illnesses to one’s entire body. There are a number of Skin-Related Conditions and/or Injuries that can be work-related. Per the Centers for Disease Control, it is estimated that more than 13 million workers in the United States are potentially exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. Dermal exposure to hazardous agents can result in a variety of occupational diseases and disorders, including Occupational Skin Diseases (OSD) and systemic toxicity.

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