For the first time ever, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a formal Hazard Alert Letter to Hyatt Hotels, notifying the company of workplace dangers faced by housekeepers in the course of their daily work.
The Hazard notice is the culmination of a year-long investigation of Hyatt properties nationwide led by OSHA. The investigation was commenced because of a major filing of injury complaints against the company in eight cities in 2010.
The findings in the letter support themes from an academic study released in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine in 2010. That study looked at 5 different hotel companies and found Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate of all housekeepers studied when compared by hotel company.
What is especially distressing about the Hazard Alert Letter is that the changes needed to make the working conditions safer are simple and easy to implement. For example, the housekeepers could be given long-handled mops and fitted sheets for rooms to minimize the amount of bed lifting and straining housekeepers do daily.
The letter also notes that Hyatt needs to make sure and record injuries of subcontracted workers at its hotels, taking on the hotel over a loophole that has supported its aggressive use of contract workers to clean hotel rooms.
It’s a significant step in the right direction in recognizing the very real dangers and hard work of hotel workers and importantly, contract labor for hotels. But it’s also a testament to the greed of the Hyatt corporation that it is more willing to fight workers rather than adopt simple and easy accommodations that would make those jobs safer.
Photo from laverrue via flickr.