UNITE HERE is the labor union that represents most of California’s unionized hotel employees. The union has been at the forefront of advocating for statewide safety legislation that would require employers to undertake very specific tasks in protecting both union and non-union employees from workplace injuries. After six years of discussion, drafting and debate, Cal/Osha’s mandatory injury prevention program for California Housekeepers on Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention was approved and becomes effective July 1, 2018. Are you prepared?
WHO DOES THE NEW REGULATION APPLY TO?
The new Cal/Osha’s mandatory injury prevention program for California Housekeepers applies to any establishment that contains sleeping room accommodations that are rented or provided to the public, such as hotels, motels, resorts and bed and breakfast inns in California.
WHAT IS REQUIRED?
Employers in California have long been required to establish and maintain an effective written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (“IIPP”). Under the new Cal/Osha’s mandatory injury prevention program for California Housekeepers, covered lodging establishments are required to establish and maintain an effective written Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (or “MIPP”) that addresses the hazards specific to hospitality industry’s housekeepers. The MIPP may be incorporated into the Employer’s existing IIPP or maintained as seperate program.
The new Cal/Osha’s mandatory injury prevention program for California Housekeepers take effect on July 1, 2018. The MIPP, like the existing more general IIPP requirements, requires every covered business owner to do several things to achieve compliance. First, the business must identify and evaluate any workplace hazards specific to this group of employees. Then, the employer must devise an action plan for lessening those hazards (if possible) and training the impacted employees on safe work practices in view of these identified dangers.
In order to establish the necessary procedures for identifying, evaluating and addressing potential injury risks to housekeepers, the regulation requires that an initial worksite evaluation be completed by October 1, 2018 (or within three months of the opening of a new lodging establishment). Notably, the worksite evaluation must be designed and conducted with the involvement of the housekeepers (and their union representatives if the housekeepers are represented by a union).
Additionally, the worksite evaluation must be reviewed and updated at least annually, and whenever new processes, practices, equipment, hotel renovations or previously unrecognized hazards are realized.
The Cal/Osha’s mandatory injury prevention program for California Housekeepers mandates that the required worksite evaluation must identify and address the following potential injury risks:
Slips, trips and falls;
Prolonged or awkward static postures;
Extreme reaches and repetitive reaches above shoulder height;
Lifting or forceful whole body or hand exertions;
Torso bending, twisting, kneeling and squatting;
Pushing and pulling;
Falling and striking objects;
Pressure points where a part of the body presses against an object or surface;
Excessive work-rate; and
Inadequate recovery time between housekeeping tasks.
WHAT MUST BE INCLUDED IN THE MIPP?
The worksite hazard investigation is just the first step to creating a compliant MIPP. Once the hazards have been identified, employers must do all of the following on an ongoing basis:
Investigation. Develop policies and procedures to investigate the cause of any musculoskeletal injuries to housekeepers.
Hazard Correction. Establish methods or procedures to timely correct all hazards revealed in the worksite evaluation or new ones identified after the analysis of any post-implementation musculoskeletal injuries.
Management and Employee Safe Work Practices Compliance Training. Develop a system and procedures to ensure that supervisors and housekeepers comply with the MIPP, follow the established safe practices and use the tools and equipment deemed appropriate to housekeeping tasks in the manner that’s most safe.
Ongoing Constituent Communication. Develop a system and procedures for communicating with housekeepers on all matters relating to occupational safety and health, in a readily understandable format, so that important safety information is easily understood.
Management’s Ongoing Role. Identify the individuals with authority and responsibility for implementing the MIPP.
Plan Accessibility. Ensure the MIPP is readily accessible to housekeepers during each work shift (electronic access is permitted). Among other things, this requirement means that the MIPP must be in a format and language the employees can understand and be able to review upon request.
Annual Review of the MIPP. Annually review the MIPP to determine its effectiveness and make necessary changes.
SO THAT’S IT?
Of course not! The new regulations also contain stringent requirements to provide mandatory training on the MIPP to all housekeepers and their supervisors, including the following key elements:
The signs, symptoms and risk factors commonly associated with mucsuloskeletal injuries.
Proper body mechanics and safe practices taking into account the identified workplace hazards, the appropriate use of cleaning tools and equipment and the importance of safe work practices.
The process for reporting safety and health concerns without fear of retaliation.
The opportunity for interactive Q&A’s with a person with knowledge of hotel housekeeping equipment and procedures.
The importance of early reporting of symptoms and injuries.
The training must be carried out as soon as the MIPP is established and at least annually thereafter. In addition, the employer must do MIPP training whenever:
The hotel hires a new housekeeper or housekeeping supervisors;
A housekeeper is given a new job assignment that might require the housekeeper to encounter a hazard identified in the MIPP; and
New equipment or work practices are introduced.
ARE THERE REPORTING AND RECORD KEEPING REQUIREMENTS?
You bet! Employers must ensure that every step of the process (especially the training) be well documented and available for review by a Cal/OSHA inspector within 72 hours of being requested. This means that the hotel must have systems in place for the maintenance of records for:
All steps taken to implement and maintain the MIPP;
All worksite evaluation procedures; and
All reported occupational injuries and illnesses.
SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR YOU?
As the compliance deadline is looming, California’s hospitality employers must be sure that they have the requisite MIPP in place on July 1st and that they will have performed the requisite hazard analysis/assessment and training by October 1st. If the company does not have adequate internal resources, consider retaining a safety consultant with relevant industry experience to assist in this process (and involve your housekeepers’ union representatives, where applicable). As we have detailed for you here, simply adding a reference to housekeeping tasks and musculoskeletal injuries to your current IIPP will not meet the new requirements.
If your business is located outside of California, or outside of the hospitality industry, this may be a preview of things to come in your state or industry. This is a clear signal that OSHA agencies are committed to passing industry and position specific regulations to protect employees from occupational hazards. This should also serve as a reminder to dust off your existing IIPP and update it where needed to include additional internal policies and procedures in accordance with these requirements.
If you need a refresher on IIPP requirements, the California Department of Industrial Relations has published comprehensive guidance and model plans available here .
To discuss your specficic organization or if you have any questions about the matters discussed in this issue of Compliance Matters, please call your firm contact at (818) 508-3700, or visit us online at www.brgslaw.com .
Richard S. Rosenberg
Matthew T. Wakefield
Eric W. Mueller
Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt