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How the pandemic made hotel housekeeping more difficult -- and disgusting

Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

The new conditions are likely to increase the already high injury rates among hotel housekeepers, he said.

Academic studies and government labor statistics show that hotel housekeepers suffer one of the highest injury rates among service-industry workers. Many of the injuries come from lifting mattresses to make up beds and moving furniture to dust.

“Changes in hotel room cleaning practices that result in increased workload — for example, understaffing, less-frequent room cleaning resulting in extra dirty rooms — are likely to result in greater risks for work-related injuries for hotel room cleaners,” said Pamela Vossenas, a researcher who co-wrote a 2010 study that found hotel housekeepers had the highest rate of injury overall and the highest rate of musculoskeletal injuries among hotel workers studied.

At the end of every shift, Velasquez, 48, said she goes home with an aching back from moving mattresses and furniture and sore knees from kneeling to clean bathroom floors and shower stalls.

If guests knew how hard her job is, she said, they wouldn’t leave such a mess.

Riley Wood, general manager at Aimbridge Hospitality, which manages the Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood, declined to comment.

 

A spokesperson for Hilton Hotel & Resorts said the company offers guests the “choice and control over the level of housekeeping services they desire” because guests may have “varying levels of comfort with someone entering their rooms after they have checked in.”

Hotel industry representatives say the new housekeeping policies are meant to keep workers and guests safe and are preferred by guests.

A survey conducted for the American Hotel and Lodging Assn. found that 81% of hotel guests feel safer staying in a hotel if daily housekeeping is suspended.

“When it comes to room cleaning, hotels are following both guest preferences and the most recent CDC guidance for hotel employees,” the lodging association said in a statement, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that “guestrooms occupied by the same customer over multiple days should not be cleaned daily, unless requested.”

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