High injury rates among hotel housekeepers

Henry Ceniceros of Business Insurance alerted me to an article in the New York Times about injury rates among housekeeping workers in the hotel industry. Hispanic women have the highest injury rate – over 10% of them are injured every year.
The Times article refers to a research study. Here is the abstract: OSHA log incidents from five unionized hotel companies for a three-year period were analyzed to estimate injury rates by job, company, and demographic characteristics. Room cleaning work, known to be physically hazardous, was of particular concern. A total of 2,865 injuries were reported during 55,327 worker-years of observation. The overall injury rate was 5.2 injuries per 100 worker-years. The rate was highest for housekeepers (7.9), Hispanic housekeepers (10.6), and about double in three companies versus two others. Acute trauma rates were highest in kitchen workers (4.0/100) and housekeepers (3.9/100); housekeepers also had the highest rate of musculoskeletal disorders (3.2/100). Age, being female or Hispanic, job title, and company were all independently associated with injury risk.
High injury rates among hotel housekeepers have been reported elsewhere – for example here.
The article in full:
Female Hotel Workers Injured More Than Men, Study Shows
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: November 10, 2009
A new study of workers at 50 hotels in the United States found that women were 50 percent more likely to be injured than men, and that Hispanic women had an injury rate two-thirds higher than their white female counterparts.
The injury rate is higher for female hotel workers because many work as housekeepers, the most injury-prone job.
The study, which will be published in January in The American Journal of Industrial Medicine, said the injury rate was higher for female hotel employees because they worked disproportionately as housekeepers, which is the most injury-prone hotel job.


According to the study, housekeepers have a 7.9 percent injury rate each year, 50 percent higher than for all hotel workers and twice the rate for all workers in the United States.
Other academic studies have concluded that housekeepers have a high injury rate because they do repetitive tasks, lift heavy mattresses and work rapidly to clean a dozen or more rooms.
The study found that Hispanic housekeepers had the highest injury rate — 10.6 percent a year — compared with 6.3 percent for white housekeepers, 5.5 for black housekeepers and 7.3 percent for Asian housekeepers.
The study did not speculate why the injury rate was so much higher for Hispanic housekeepers, but several experts said the reasons could include their smaller stature or that managers gave them heavier workloads.
Hispanic and Asian men were 1.5 times more likely to be injured than white men, the study found. Men disproportionately hold hotel jobs as banquet servers, cooks and dishwashers.
“These alarming results raise many questions as to why injury rates are so high for women, and Hispanic and Asian workers in the hotel sector,” said, Dr. Susan Buchanan, lead author of the article and a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.
The study, “Occupational Injury Disparities in the U.S. Hotel Industry,” was first presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Philadelphia. The study focused on 50 unionized properties and examined 2,865 injuries over a three-year span.
The study found the highest injury rate for housekeepers was at the Hyatt chain, at 10.4 percent, and lowest at the Hilton chain, at 5.47 percent, for housekeepers. Hyatt did not respond to inquiries about its injury rate.
“This study is stunning evidence of the unequal impact of injuries in the hotel industry, and it calls into question whether discriminatory workplace practices play a role,” said John W. Wilhelm, president of Unite Here, the union representing hotel workers.

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