The maintenance and housekeeping departments are the two most injury prone areas in a hotel with the labor intensity, physical activity and training being the main reasons. Housekeeping staff on a daily basis clean 14-16 rooms and make up to 8000 movements during an eight hour shift. It is a physically demanding job which primarily involves making beds, cleaning rooms, bathtubs, sinks, fixtures removing stains and vacuuming. It is a profession highly prone to sprains and strains and hoteliers must cultivate work practices that prevent injuries from occurring.

Some suggestions to reduce injuries in the housekeeping department are:

  • Providing lighter service carts that are well maintained can go a long way in preventing injuries. Tires should be fully inflated and wheels well aligned which minimizes the force required to operate a cart. The housekeeping staff should be trained to push the carts as opposed to pulling them.
  • The luxurious Metropolitan Hotel in Vancouver has completely done away with carts and room attendants work with hand caddies. The team makes sure that the linen closets on each floor are fully stocked with supplies.
  • Providing lighter vacuum cleaners with low noise levels should also be considered.
  • Repetitive motion injuries also commonly occur due to the repetitive use of the same muscles over and over again. Varying techniques that make use of different muscles, job rotation and resting muscles for periods as short as 10 seconds can also prevent injuries in the housekeeping department!
  • Housekeepers should be required to wear shoes with plenty of cushioning to minimize stress on the back.
  • Our bodies function best in neutral and comfortable positions. When making beds, housekeepers should be trained to kneel or squat and bend from knees rather than the back. To increase reach and access to distant places, step stools and other tools with long handles should be used when cleaning bathrooms.
  • Room attendants should step inside the bathtub to clean the walls and back of the tub and never stand on the edge of the tub.
  • Training plays a key role in accident prevention in the housekeeping department. Topics should include knowledge of workplace hazards, lifting methods and pre-shift warm up sessions. Soliciting feedback from employees and those that have been injured on the job can go a long way in formulating policies to prevent injuries in the future.
  • Injury prevention should receive full support from senior management and culture of safe practices should be developed. Forming a safety committee in charge of accident prevention is also a good idea.
  • Staff should be trained in maintaining proper posture and lifting. Good posture is attained when the knees, shoulders, ears and hips are in one straight line. When lifting objects, tuck your pelvis, bend your knees and carry the object as close to the body as possible. Heavy object should never be carried alone and you should ask for assistance.
  • Another very useful tool used to uncover potential workplace hazards is a job safety analysis. JSA involves analyzing every task in the housekeeping department, the hazards involved and a brief explanation on how to complete each step safely.

Employee injuries have a severe effect on employee performance, productivity and morale and can have serious consequences from a medical, legal and insurance stand points. Following the simple guidelines outlined above will help you keep your housekeeping department safe.

By Teg Brar