The Chicago Occupational Accident Attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent Injured Hotel Workers
Hotel workers hired in the hospitality industry are offered various employment opportunities from management to entry-level jobs. The wide range of employee services at the hotel ensures that the customer's needs are being met during their stay. Typically, the staff positions cover three specific categories at the hotel including administration, guest services, and support staff. Common job opportunities in the hotel industry include:
- Maintenance – This includes a chief Maintenance Engineer and Assistant Maintenance Worker that have the responsibility of sustaining overall operations of the maintenance department to ensure that the hotel remains in good working order.
- Housekeeping – From the Executive Housekeeper to the House Person and Room Attendant, this department has the responsibility of maintaining housekeeping operations and cleanliness throughout every area of the property. Their duties include maintaining the appearance and cleanliness of the interior and exterior of the hotel and ensuring every customer is provided quality service and a friendly and timely manner.
- Sales Department – From the Director of Sales to the Coordinator, and Catering/Sales Assistants, all members of the Sales department are responsible for maximizing hotel occupancy and provide excellent guest services to meet every guest's accommodations.
- Food and Beverage Department – If the hotel has one or more food or beverage restaurants/outlets, the Food and Beverage Director and Assistant Director along with the kitchen and stewarding staff provides services to guests and visitors to accommodate their drink and meal accommodations. Also, this department works in unison with the sales department in booking and operating banquet functions like weddings, business meetings, seminars and other events at the hotel venue.
- Front Office – From the Guest Service Agent, Night Auditor, and Concierge, to Security and the Bellman/Van Driver/Porter, the front office handles the guest's requests to check-in, check-out, and provide recommendations on local tourist activities and restaurants.
- Management – Most large hotels have three management departments including the General Manager, Assistant General Manager, and Manager of the front office. This department oversees every aspect of the hotel's operations from the front desk and guest relations to finances, maintenance, housekeeping, staff development, and team building.
In very large hotel facilities, there may be additional positions including shuttle drivers and loss prevention officers, especially if the facility is close to another guest attraction, amusement park, or airport.
Hotel Worker Hazards
Statistics managed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor reveal that nearly two million individuals in the United States work in the accommodations/traveler industry. Of those, nearly 400,000 are specifically hotel housekeepers. Their job duties include changing linen, vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning the hotel bedrooms and bathrooms. These statistics show that most hotel cleaners are female and many are listed as minorities and immigrants.
The occupational data reveals that hotel housekeepers have one of the highest incident rates of serious injuries compared to all other jobs in the hotel and motel industry. The statistics reveal that most injuries in that occur on the hotel site involve contusions and back pain that are often the result of strenuous physical activities while on the job. Common safety hazards involved in the hotel industry include:
- Ergonomic hazards that occur when the worker makes beds, push heavy carts, vacuums or bends/crouches, twists, extended reaches, stretches, and squats repeatedly performed throughout their shift using "forceful exertion."
- Respiratory, carcinogenic, and dermal [skin tissue] hazards from contact with chemical cleaning products.
- Trauma hazards that typically occur from slipping, tripping, and falling.
- Exposure to infectious agents
- Exposure to microbial contaminants including mold and mildew
- Exposure to bodily and blood secretions
- Occupational-related stress caused by tight work schedules, job insecurity, insufficient supplies, worker discrimination, and excessively low pay.
- Assaults and violent actions by other staff members, hotel guests, and uninvited intruders
Nearly half of all the injuries that occur in the hotel industry are the result of manual handling-related tasks that produce musculoskeletal harm. This could include pain or trauma to the back, elbows, knees, contusions and muscle tears. Many of the aches and pains exhibited by hotel workers are the result of performing their duties in awkward postures each day or developing RMI (Repetitive Motion Injury) from maintaining hurtful postures when changing pillowcases, cleaning mirrors, or vacuuming for hours at a time.
Hotel Workers' Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2016, involving employment data of the previous year, there were 3350 Hotel Workers on the job in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. These statistics reveal that Hotel Workers in northeastern Illinois earned $11.44 per hour, or $23,780 annually, on average. These earning wages are slightly higher than the national averages. See Chart
Hotel Workers Fatalities and Severe Injuries
While fatalities in the hotel industry are rare, they still occur. Below are three examples of recent cases where hotel employees lost their lives while doing their job.
- Case 1: Coral Gables, Florida – A hotel shuttle driver was killed while unloading luggage after his van was carjacked in the hotel parking lot. The incident occurred at the Miami Courtyard by Marriott in Coral Gables when the employee was run over by the alleged suspect, 40-year-old Edward Reid. The 62-year-old hotel employee Eladio Rodriguez succumbed to his injuries after being run over or slamming into some object. The Miami Police Department later found the stolen van.
- Case 2: New York, NY – A worker remodeling the interior of a hotel fell from the ninth floor to his death in January 2018. The investigators determined that the incident occurred because the employee was not tied to fall protection safety equipment during the installation of an elevator.
- Case 3: Marion, Indiana -- In 2016, a hotel worker fell to his death after working above an empty indoor pool at the Marion Hampton Inn while attempting to hang a tarp to catch debris falling from the ceiling. The worker was standing on half of a disconnected 24-foot aluminum extension ladder before falling into the empty pool. The dead worker was not found until hours later. Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the death of the worker and fined the hotel chain after citing three safety violations. One violation included a failure to "establish and maintain conditions of work which were reasonably safe and healthful for employees, and free from recognized hazards that were causing are likely to cause death or serious physical harm."
Staying Safe on the Job
Recognizing workplace hazards and following general safe work practices can minimize the potential risk of dying or suffering serious injuries while at work. Preventative measures involving the best work practices include:
- Educate the staff on using safe lifting techniques.
- Where PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when handling dangerous products and toxic cleaning supplies.
- Wash hands frequently to safeguard against infection
- Wear non-skid shoes.
- Keep emergency contact numbers close by to be readily available when necessary.
- Ensure that pushcarts used at the facility remain in good condition with even weight distribution.
- Utilize ergonomic tools including long-handled mops and dusters to minimize stretching and bending.
- Educate the staff on how to avoid exposure to blood-borne pathogens and excreted body fluids in the hotel room.
- Establish, implement and enforce safety procedures involving employees who work alone including never allowing employees to work alone.
- Educate the staff on emergency first aid procedures to provide immediate medical attention until EMT can be summoned to the hotel.
- Educate the staff on how to follow the hotel's safety rules.
- Educate the staff on how to report identified hazards in the workplace.
- Supervise the staff to ensure that everyone is following routine practices on how to handle towels and linens.
- Teach the staff on how to alternate arms, hands, and wrists when performing repetitive manual tasks.
- Ensure that every employee takes scheduled breaks to avoid fatigue, reduce muscle tension, and minimize the potential for serious injuries on the job.
Nearly every accident in a hotel work environment can be prevented with proper supervision, effective management, in-house security, and ongoing training. Preventing accidents should be the goal of every manager, supervisor, and employee.
Reducing Repetitive Motion Injury Risk Factors
Hotel workers, especially those in the housekeeping department work under unusual circumstances that make it challenging to improve their working conditions to minimize the potential harm caused by repetitive motion. That said, there can be significant improvements made if management purchases more appropriate ergonomically-advantageous equipment.
Housekeepers can reduce RMI risk factors by using lighter vacuum cleaners, especially those that self-propel, and lighter housekeeping service carts that are easier to roll across carpeted floors. Also, there are steps that the management can take to improve the housekeeper's body postures to minimize the potential risk of injuries to the musculoskeletal system when the workers must clean bathroom fixtures, mirrors, windows, walls, and floors every day.
Extended handles and better/lighter mops and other tools can reduce overstretching and bending down while still producing a hygienic and clean environment for the consumer. Better tools can help reduce the need to lean, kneel, crouch, squat, stretch, or slouch.
The housekeeping supervisor can also help develop innovative ergonomic approaches to cleanliness while considering the need to incorporate activities that reduce musculoskeletal injuries. Improvements can include continuously rotating jobs through better teamwork. Widening the worker's job description to incorporate less repetitive activities throughout the workday can reduce repetitive motion injuries when done in conjunction with training and educating the work staff on the best practices.
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Our attorneys help injured Hotel Workers obtain compensation under the IL Worker's Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits. We provide Free Case Reviews and a No-Win/No Fee Guarantee.
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