Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

California Adds Ergonomics Standard for Hotel Workers

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, May 08, 2018

HousekeepingThere are no national ergonomics requirements for employers, but California has just expanded its longstanding requirements, to add specific protections for hotel housekeepers. These new requirements complete review and rulemaking triggered in 2012 by a petition by a labor advocacy group, and are consistent with other requirements already administered by the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CalOSHA). The state’s efforts are also consistent with general guidance provided US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). (OSHA has enforced its General Duty Clause against employers found to have ignored known hazards to their employees, since President Bush signed legislation in 2001 repealing OSHA’s own national ergonomics standard.).

What are California’s General Ergonomics Requirements?

Since 1997, CalOSHA has required California employers to determine whether the state’s Ergonomics Standard applies in one or more of their workplaces (8 Cal. Code of Regs (CCR) 5110) . Applicability is triggered when all the following apply:

  • More than one employee has suffered an occupation repetitive motion injury (RMI) within the past year

  • The RMIs have been diagnosed by a physician

  • The RMIs were “predominantly work related”

  • The RMIs resulted from the same “job, process, or operation” with an “identical work activity”.

 CalOSHA defines an RMI as “an injury caused by a repetitive job, process or operation to the human body’s musculoskeletal system, which is composed of bones, cartilage, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal discs, nerves and blood vessels.”

If a workplace includes a job, process, or operation where employees suffer RMIs that meet these criteria, then the Standard requires the employer to establish and implement a program designed to “minimize RMIs.” This program must include at least the following elements:

  • Worksite evaluation, to determine “exposures” (i.e., to repetitive motion) that may cause the RMIs

  • Control of these exposures

  • Employee training, which must explain at least the following:

    • Employer’s RMI minimization program

    • Exposures associated with RMIs

    • Symptoms and consequences of injuries caused by repetitive motion

    • The importance of reporting symptoms and injuries

    • Methods to minimize RMIs.

What Additional Requirements Apply to General Acute Care Hospitals?

Since 2014, an additional CalOSHA standard requires each general acute care hospital to prepare a written Patient Protection and Health Care Worker Back and Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Plan (Plan) (8 CCR 5120). Each Plan must include the following:

  • Safe patient handling policy – to protect patients and health care workers.

  • Names and/or job titles of persons responsible for implementing the Plan.

  • Coordination with other employers whose employees have work assignments in patient care units.

  • Employee compliance. Your Plan must include procedures to ensure that employees comply with the Plan, and use specified procedures and equipment for patient handling activities (defined as “lifting, transferring, repositioning or mobilizing of part or all of a patient’s body”).

  • Hazard identification - methods for identifying and evaluating patient handling hazards, consistent with Cal/OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention (IIPP) Standard

  • Injury investigation.

  • Hazard correction

  • Employee communication, including safe patient handling instruction for each patient, to designated health care workers and lift team members

  • Training (initial and refresher) in Plan components, including risk factor evaluation, evaluation, and safe patient handling procedures

  • Review (at least annual)

  • Record preparation and record keeping

What Does the New Hotel Housekeeper Standard Require?

Effective July 1, 2018, CalOSHA requires “hotels and other lodging establishments” to establish Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Programs and incorporate them within existing IIPPs (8 CCR 3145). Programs must include the following:

  • Names or job titles of the persons with authority and responsibility for implementing the MIPP.

  • A system for ensuring that supervisors and housekeepers comply with the MIPP, including complying with safe workplace housecleaning practices, and using the appropriate housekeeping tools or equipment.

  • A system for communicating with housekeepers, in a form readily understandable by all housekeepers, on matters relating to occupational safety and health, including reporting and non-reprisal provisions.

  • Procedures for identifying and evaluating housekeeping hazards through a worksite evaluation, with participation by housekeepers and their union representatives. (Initial worksite hazard evaluations are to be completed within 3 months).

  • Procedures for investigating musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers, incorporating required elements.

  • Methods or procedures for timely correction of identified hazards.

  • Procedures to review the Program at least annually.

Employers must also train all housekeepers in the following:

  • How to recognize hazards and evidence of musculoskeletal injuries.

  • How to use appropriate body mechanics, tools and and equipment to minimize risks.

  • The importance and procedures for reporting symptoms and injuries.

  • The content and procedures in the Program.

The standard also requires record making and record keeping.

Self-Assessment Checklist

Do the organization’s activities include housekeeping at hotels or other lodging facilities?

- Directly?

- Through contracts with hotels or other lodging establishments?

Do any of the organization’s activities involve similar assignments, to employees who may benefit from the planning and implementation activities presented in this standard?

Where Can I Go For More Information?

Specialty Technical Publishers (STP) provides a variety of single-law and multi-law services, intended to facilitate clients’ understanding of and compliance with requirements. These include:

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About the Author

Jon Elliott is President of Touchstone Environmental and has been a major contributor to STP’s product range for over 25 years. He was involved in developing 13 existing products, including Environmental Compliance: A Simplified National Guide and The Complete Guide to Environmental Law.

Mr. Elliott has a diverse educational background. In addition to his Juris Doctor (University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, 1981), he holds a Master of Public Policy (Goldman School of Public Policy [GSPP], UC Berkeley, 1980), and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Princeton University, 1977).

Mr. Elliott is active in professional and community organizations. In addition, he is a past chairman of the Board of Directors of the GSPP Alumni Association, and past member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of California's Environmental Law Section (including past chair of its Legislative Committee).

You may contact Mr. Elliott directly at:

photo credit: bionicteaching housekeeping via photopin (license)

Tags: Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, OSHA, Employee Rights