By Joshua M. Henderson

Seyfarth Synopsis:  This past week, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board approved a new regulation that will require hotels and other lodging establishments (such as resorts and bed and breakfast inns) to implement new requirements to protect employees who perform housekeeping tasks from any “musculoskeletal injury.”

This new regulation–“Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention”–is intended to address a workplace hazard confronted by housekeepers, namely, a “musculoskeletal injury,” which is defined as “acute injury or cumulative trauma of a muscle, tendon, ligament, bursa, peripheral nerve, joint, bone, spinal disc or blood vessel.” The regulation was petitioned for by the labor union UNITE HERE and contains several union-friendly provisions. Before it can take effect, the regulation must pass the review and approval of the Office of Administrative Law to assure compliance with certain procedural rules. Once approved, the regulation should take effect in the next few months.

Currently, most California employers (including hotels) are required to have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Plan, which must include provisions related to health and safety training, identification and abatement of workplace hazards, and procedures for reporting unsafe working conditions. The new regulation imposes requirements for hotels above and beyond an IIPP:

  • Hotel employers must have a Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (MIPP) in addition to the IIPP. The MIPP may be a standalone policy or incorporated into the IIPP.
  • The MIPP must be “readily accessible” to employees to review during their work shift. An electronic copy is sufficient if there are “no barriers to employee access” as a result. No such requirement exists for IIPPs.
  • Within three months of the effective date of the regulation, hotels must complete an initial worksite evaluation to identify and address potential injury risks to housekeepers. This worksite evaluation as well as subsequent evaluations (at least annually) “shall include an effective means of involving housekeepers and their union representative in designing and conducting the worksite evaluation.”
  • The MIPP’s procedures for investigating musculoskeletal injuries to a housekeeper must allow for input from the housekeeper’s union representative as to whether any measures, procedures, or tools would have prevented the injury.
  • Records of worksite evaluations and other records required by the MIPP must be made available to a Cal/OSHA inspector within 72 hours of a request. There is no 72-hour deadline under the IIPP regulation.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the author, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the OSHA Compliance, Enforcement & Litigation Team.