Online Program

OSHA settlements as guides for best practices: Local, national and international potential impacts

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pamela Vossenas, MPH, ABD, Workplace Safety and Health, UNITE HERE, New York, NY
Over the past three years, OSHA complaints filed by female hotel housekeepers resulted in a series of actions by state and federal OSHA agencies that have evolved from hazard letters with recommendations to most recently a settlement between CalOSHA and a hotel employer at one specific hotel property that includes enforcement. Some background is provided: 1) in 2010, housekeepers filed OSHA complaints in 8 cities against 13 hotel properties of the same hotel company. Three state OSHA plans issued hazard letters that identified injuries due to repetitive motion hazards of hotel housekeeping and recommended control measures for specific hotel properties; 2)in April 2012, federal OSHA issued a corporate-level letter related to inspections at four hotels that identified ergonomic risk factors associated with housekeeping tasks "such as repeated heavy lifting and carrying,bending, twisting, elevated and extended reaches, pushing and pulling, and forceful gripping" and included recommendations for hazard control; and 3)the 2012 CalOSHA and hotel employer settlement that included the use of job task analysis, controls, interventions such as a housekeeping committee to prevent housekeeper injuries. Can the above recommendations/controls in the form of hazard letters/settlement be considered "best practices"? If so, are these best practices applicable beyond the particular hotel property for which they were specified? Can these best practices become not only corporate-level practices in the U.S. but global best practices world-wide? How many women working as housekeepers could potentially be affected? This presentation will seek to answer these questions and generate a robust dialogue with session attendees.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
List changes in work organization recommended by federal and state OSHA to control hazards of hotel housekeeping and worker injuries. Describe the potential worker populations in the U.S. and internationally who could be affected by such recommendations given growth in the hotel industry on a global level. Assess how comprehensive the recommendations are and evaluate how the recommendations have evolved by level of complexity over a two-year period, 2011-2013.

Keyword(s): Ergonomics, Women

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in the field of occupational health for over 25 years and in the area of hotel housekeeping hazards for the past 7 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.