Every year, thousands of visitors come to Colorado to ski, hike and enjoy the state’s natural beauty. Behind the scenes of this tourism industry, thousands more labor to keep hotel rooms clean and appealing.
Hotel cleaners are an indispensable part of Colorado’s economy. Unfortunately, though, the nature of their work means that they experience a higher risk of work-related illness and injury. Because of this risk, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has been working to educate hotels and hotel cleaners about workplace risks and steps they can take to improve safety.
Some of the most common work-related illnesses and injuries among hotel workers include the following:
- Musculoskeletal injuries from repetitive lifting, pushing or bending
- Injuries from slipping or tripping
- Lung and respiratory injuries from hazardous chemicals, bleach and aerosol spray
- Skin reactions from contact with chemicals or latex gloves
- Infectious diseases from contact with human waste and blood
Like all workers, most hotel cleaners are eligible for worker’s compensation benefits if they experience a job-related illness or injury. However, it is always better to improve safety and prevent injuries and illnesses from happening in the first pace. The NIOSH has a goal of reducing occupational illness and injury among hotel workers by at least 20 percent by the end of 2016.
In pursuit of that goal, the NIOSH has recommended the following strategies
- Conduct a proactive evaluation of safety hazards and develop strategies to improve workplace wellness
- Purchase ergonomically designed tools and carts for cleaners to use
- Encourage guests to make their rooms safe for cleaners by reducing hazards and waste
- Form a group of cleaners to provide recommendations on ways to improve workplace safety
These are just a few of the ways life can be made safer for hotel cleaners. By focusing on these strategies, hotels, cleaners and guests can help make sure Colorado’s tourism industry stays vibrant for years to come.
Source: NIOSH, “Safety and Health among Hotel Cleaners,” July 2012.