Nearly 1.8 million people worked in the traveler/accommodations industry in 2008, including more than 400,000 hotel room cleaners.
Most cleaners are women, and many are immigrants and minorities who perform tasks including dusting, vacuuming, changing linens, making beds, scrubbing bathrooms, cleaning mirrors, and disposing of trash.
Hotel cleaners face hazards such as the following:
- ergonomic hazards that include bending, pushing carts, and making beds;
- trauma hazards that include slips, trips, and falls;
- respiratory, dermal, and possibly carcinogenic hazards from chemicals in cleaning products;
- mold and microbial contaminants;
- infectious agents; and
- occupational stress due to heavy workloads, lack of adequate supplies, job insecurity, low pay, and discrimination.
Organizations and individuals can help improve the safety and health of hotel cleaners in the United States:
- Identify and evaluate hazards and adopt inter¬ventions to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses in the hotel environment.
- Evaluate the quality and ensure maintenance of equipment used in hotel cleaning operations.
- Encourage the use of ergonomic carts and vacuum cleaners, and long-handled tools like mops and scrub brushes; and inform suppliers about the best equipment for cleaners.
- Conduct research on guest practices that would improve the work environment for room cleaners.
- Partner with OSHA, NIOSH, labor, and oth¬ers to study why disparities exist in injury rates among room cleaners and what remedies are effective, and to quickly implement available remedies