Friday, April 21, 2006

A Job More Dangerous than Coal Mining

I was recently reading some statistics about workplace injury that shocked me.
There are several industries we use often that subject workers to very dangerous conditions.
Apparently there is a higher instance of injury working in a hotel than working in a coal mine.
The New York Times ran a story today about how the "battle of the beds" is impacting workers.

The beds may mean sweet dreams to hotel guests, but they mean pain to many of the nation's 350,000 hotel housekeepers. Several new studies have found that thousands of housekeepers are suffering arm, shoulder and lower-back injuries.

"It's gotten harder," said Dolores Reyes, a 55-year-old housekeeper responsible for 16 rooms a day at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. "I've been trying to get my body used to it, but instead I'm feeling more pain. I've had to go to the doctor about my shoulders. That's what's killing me right now."

The problem, housekeepers say, is not just a heavier mattress, but having to rush because they are assigned the same number of rooms as before while being required to deal with far more per room: more pillows, more sheets, more amenities like bathrobes to hang up and coffeepots to wash.


Indeed, a union study based on statistics provided by the hotels has found that since 2002, when the amenities race began in earnest, the injury rate for housekeepers has climbed to 71 percent more than for all hotel workers, compared with 47 percent more beforehand.

Another study, by ergonomics professors at Ohio State University, concluded that housekeepers had so strenuous a job that they had a higher risk of back disorders than autoworkers who assemble car doors.

I am struck by the danger of this situation and how directly complicit we are in it. Obviously there are bigger risks in the world but this is certainly a problem, a far more serious problem than I realized. So what can we do about it? One thing is to support the Hotel Workers Rising campaign which is probably coming soon to a city near you.


At 4/23/2006 , Anonymous nancy kreimer said...

Thanks for alerting us to this, Zach.
Perhaps a stop gap measure(which I sometimes use)is to clean up after yourself a bit more when in hotels.(I don't do this at home, actually, but at hotels I feel more motivated if it will save someone else's back)...


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