A sojourn in an upscale hotel comes at a price, and guests are not the only ones paying it. Hotel housekeepers are showing up in increasing numbers in emergency rooms and doctors’ offices with persistent pain and injuries from repetitive bending and lifting.
Unite Here, a union covering the hospitality industry, released research on its website in May that shows housekeepers have the most dangerous jobs at hotels. They experience injuries at nearly twice the rate of other hotel employees. The study, “Creating Luxury, Enduring Pain,” examined data from 87 Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, Marriott and Intercontinental hotels.
It lists seventeen typical cleaning tasks. They include stripping beds of all sheets, blankets and duvets; tucking bottom and top sheets and blankets four to eight times per bed; dusting vents, televisions and armoires; and vacuuming. There are another sixteen basic tasks for cleaning bathrooms.
Hilton Hotel housekeepers have to grapple with the chain’s king-sized “Serenity Bed,” which includes 18 components: a 113-pound pillow-top mattress, a mattress topper or featherbed, three sheets, a down blanket, a down duvet insert and cover, two standard pillows and cases, two king-sized pillows and cases, and a decorative “bolster” pillow and case. According to the report, a housekeeper who dresses fifteen of these Serenity Beds per day strips over 500 pounds of soiled linen and replaces it with 500 pounds of clean linen.
According to Gary Orr, an ergonomist who helped set up the Ergonomics Standard for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the heavy beds introduced industry-wide in the last seven years place housekeepers at risk for serious injury. He examined one of these new luxury beds and found that the task of just lifting the mattress to make the bed scored a 1.29 on the Lifting Index recommended by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health