Law Charter

How California OSHA is Tackling Housekeeping-Related Injuries

We don’t tend to think of housekeeping as being a particularly hazardous profession, not unless you’re cleaning a really dirty place. However, there is a range of injuries which are seen in housekeeping staff, in some cases almost entirely. These musculoskeletal injuries arise because of hazards that are specific to the housekeeping environment. These environments include hotels, resorts, and even run of the mill bed and breakfasts.

California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) is implementing a new set of rules which are designed to protect those working in these environments from sustaining such injuries. In many cases, the injuries arise because of prolonged strains on the body, not because of acute injuries sustained in a single incident. The new rules are due to come into force on the 1st July, so it is important that anyone working in these fields, or as an occupational lawyer in California, understands what this means.

What are the Hazards Involved?

The most common types of injuries that this legislation hopes to address are repetitive strain injuries. These are injuries which affect the muscles, and which are caused, as the name suggests, by the same strains and movements being repeated regularly.

What the New Rules Mean for Employers

The new rules that are being introduced to protect workers place an obligation upon employers to ensure that they are establishing and maintaining suitable programs for monitoring and managing any musculoskeletal injuries that might occur in their staff. These programs must be recorded in an easy to understand manner for all employees.

This represents the first ergonomic regulation introduced anywhere in the United States that exists specifically to protect the health of housekeeping staff. The types of activities that most commonly lead to the musculoskeletal injuries the regulations are trying to prevent are vacuuming, lifting heavy objects – including mattresses – and stretching muscles when trying to reach particularly high or low spots.

Will They Make a Difference?

Workplace safety is a very important concept. It’s easy to sometimes become frustrated at the perceived barriers that OSHA regulations can put up. It can often feel as if you are tiptoeing around something that almost certainly won’t happen anyway. However, no matter how unlikely a situation might be, any amount of unnecessary risk should be avoided.

These new regulations could potentially make a big difference to the lives of employees. For one thing, it will give some recourse to any housekeepers who are injured at work. While it is definitely a good thing that workers have recourse to address any grievances, the purpose of this legislation is to prevent things from getting that far, by legally obligating employers to put a plan in place,

Hopefully, the introduction of these new rules and regulations will allow housekeeping staff in a variety of environments to feel more confident in undertaking their jobs. These rules require companies to keep a formal record of the procedures that they have in place for managing housekeeping related injuries, which means everyone in the organization will understand what is expected.

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