California Hyatt hotel settles over alleged OSHA violations

The Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf hotel in San Francisco recently withdrew its appeal of California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board citations arising from workplace injuries of its housekeepers.

According to a safety expert, the settlement will require the hotel to monitor ergonomic hazards of housekeeping tasks and to implement new tools and preventative work practices. Specifically, the hotel must conduct a job hazard analysis, provide housekeeper safety training, ensure availability of bed-tucking and long-handled tools, modify existing housekeeping carts, and explore ways to reduce the difficulty of bed-making tucks. That last housekeeping task, in particular, is attributed as a cause for repetitive physical stress injuries.

Many workplace accidents happen every year. When a person is injured at work or while performing a job function, they are most often eligible to file a workers' compensation claim.

Almost all employers carry workers' compensation insurance on their employees. Under such a claim, an employee who received an on-the-job injury may receive monetary assistance with medical bills and possibly a portion of his or her lost wages until he or she can return to work.

Work health and safety conditions have greatly improved over the last hundred years but accidents can happen. In other cases, like today's story, an employer may not have taken adequate ergonomic safeguards against workplace injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries.

Unfortunately, the citations may not have been the first notice given to Hyatt. In 2010, Hyatt housekeepers in 10 cities filed complaints with OSHA agencies about repetitive motion and other workplace injuries. Last December, a national week of protests at Hyatts in cities around the country requested a hotel worker be added to the company's board of directors. For that reason, workers' advocates hope that the instant settlement will have implications for Hyatt workers throughout the state of California and across the country.

Source: People's World, "Workers win safety deal at Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf," Marilyn Bechtel, Jan. 15, 2013

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