Most Common Injuries in the Hospitality Industry

Topics: Workers' Compensation

Workers’ Compensation Risks for Hotels and Motels

Hotels and motels face a wide range of Workers’ Compensation exposures to their staff, particularly for housekeepers and room attendants who endure the majority of workplace injuries. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics supports this, showing that hotel and motel workers had an injury and illness incidence rate of 4.3, while total recordable cases of all other industries are 3.1.

Given that this particular occupation makes up a majority of the payroll for the hospitality industry, it’s not surprising that most of the Workers’ Compensation claims that AmTrust sees in this sector occur within the housekeeping department. AmTrust Senior Vice President of Workers’ Compensation Strategy, Matt Zender, spoke about the challenges faced by hotels and motels in a recent article from Insurance Business America.

“Housekeepers pose a challenge because they are almost always working in an unsupervised manner, [so you see] unwitnessed claims, and they’re also working in a fairly hazardous manner,” he explained. “Housekeepers do a fair amount of lifting, and they can be subject to slip and falls as they’re cleaning bathroom floors,” said Zender.

Let’s further examine the injury risks for hotel and motel housekeeping staff and ways in which to mitigate them.


Problems Faced by Housekeeping Staff and Most Common Injuries

Slips and falls – Cleaning bathroom floors, showers and bathtubs can make these surfaces slick and pose a risk for a slip and fall incident.

Strains and sprains – Lifting mattresses, moving heavy carts with cleaning supplies, pushing around vacuum cleaners and bending/stretching in awkward postures to get to hard-to-reach places while cleaning can all lead to injury.

Repetitive motions – Cleaning and wiping surfaces (especially when done with the same hand/arm) or using a hand-pump spray bottle can lead to carpal tunnel injuries.

Chemical exposures – Extensive use of cleaning agents with chemicals can cause long-term respiratory issues.

Tips for Reducing Most Common Injuries for Housekeeping Staff

Teamwork – Housekeeping staff should get help from co-workers to help lift heavy items (like mattresses) to help avoid injuries and overexertion. Additionally, there are relatively inexpensive lift aid tools that can help significantly reduce the stress of lifting a mattress.

Better tools for the job – Ergonomically designed equipment (such as vacuums with long handles) should be made available to reduce the amount of bending, stretching, etc. that can lead to back injuries. Likewise, battery-powered cleaning equipment or spray bottles that do not require hand-pump action can help reduce repetitive motion injuries.

Proper safety equipment – Employees should be required to use personal protective equipment like eyewear, respirators and gloves to offer protection from harmful cleaning agents, and wear non-slip footwear to help avoid slip and fall injuries.

Take preventative measures – Train employees in body mechanics and encourage staff to engage in stretching exercises before shifts begin. Make sure the staff is taking adequate breaks throughout the day to reduce fatigue.

Hotels and motels can take preventative measures a step further by beginning at the hiring process. Pre-employment physicals can help determine if a candidate is capable of performing housekeeping duties. It may also help identify pre-existing injuries that could resurface later in a workers’ compensation claim.

Zender suggests that hotels and motels can commit to being more “green” – encouraging guests to reuse towels, for example – to help reduce the workload on housekeeping staff.

“A go green initiative is going to help cut down on the amount of manual labor that both the housekeepers and the laundry workers have to deal with,” he told Insurance Business. “And it might allow a housekeeper to manage those same, say 10, rooms, but do so in a less stressful manner.”


Consider the Risks for the Entire Hospitality Staff

The risks aren’t limited to just the housekeeping staff, either.

“Hotels are interesting because they probably have the widest variety of workers among almost any class, and of course there’s a variety of hotels, ranging from your resort hotels down to your roadside motels,” says Matt Zender. “The wide variety of workers that exists within a hotel adds complexities for those hotels and motels’ ability to manage that [exposure]. You have everything from housekeepers to laundry staff, to restaurant workers and clerical workers, to landscapers and maintenance, so there’s a wide variety of workers and it can be a challenge.”

Hotels and motels should consider other risk management techniques to put into action that help workers across the organization.

“The first thing that they need to do is focus on some micromanaging because each of the areas has unique risks. The issues that you have worrying about the folks who are handling your catering and your conference center, for example, are going to be much different from the concerns that you’d have among your janitorial or maintenance folks,” said Zender. “Maintaining a specialization and micromanaged approach to make sure that the message is unique in such a broad industry, I think that’s very important.”


Hotel Insurance Coverage from AmTrust

The key to success is partnering with an insurer that has experience with the hospitality industry and can provide a hotel or motel with solutions designed to fit their needs. AmTrust Financial provides industry-leading Workers’ Compensation coverage specifically tailored to the needs of the hospitality industry. We can also offer hotels and motels comprehensive loss control services. Our Loss Control Department offers individualized attention, identifying specific hazards and offering solutions that fit the operation.

For more information, reach out to your AmTrust appointed agent or contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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