Hotel room attendants perform a wide variety of tasks from cleaning bathrooms and dusting furniture to making beds and vacuuming. Many of these tasks require awkward postures, forceful exertions, and repeated movements—all risk factors for developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Here are some ideas for reducing these risks.
Pushing housekeeping carts
Housekeeping carts, which are overloaded with clean linens, wet towels, and amenities, can increase the amount of force required to push them. Additionally, carts piled too high require the attendant to lean out to the side to see around them. This results in awkward postures. Consider the suggestions below, and see the ErgoMatters® article on Pushing and Pulling for additional information.
- Empty carts frequently. Have staff exchange carts or remove bags of soiled linens at least once or twice during the shift to reduce the weight from overloaded carts.
- Use power-assist carts.
- Make sure there is a clear line of sight and that vision is not blocked by overloaded carts or poorly placed supplies.
- Ensure that items are not hanging over the edge of the cart to get caught in the wheels.
- If hotel hallways have thick, plush carpeting, use larger wheels on all carts thus reducing the force required to push and maneuver them.
- Always push carts, never pull carts.
- Ensure that cart tires are properly inflated, that wheels are not out-of-round, and casters are not bent, broken, or damaged in any way. Take carts with damaged wheels and/or casters out of service immediately until they are repaired.
- Uneven surfaces—elevators, thresholds, or torn carpeting—create sudden, unexpected stops, which can increase the likelihood of an injury.
The increase in room amenities such as luxury mattresses, extra bed pillows, and duvets have increased the amount of lifting required to make beds. Mattresses must be lifted with one hand to tuck in sheets, which requires awkward postures such as forward bending and twisting.
- Try to keep beds away from walls. Beds too close to a wall force workers to work in tight areas in awkward postures.
- Get as close as possible to the item needing to be moved. Go around the bed and don’t stretch across it.
- Rather than bending over the bed, kneel on one or both knees or crouch and face the bed while pulling the corner of the bottom sheet over the mattress. This keeps the back straight and more in neutral.
- Turn the duvet cover inside out to slide the cover around the duvet rather than stuffing the duvet into the cover. This will reduce awkward shoulder postures.
- Ensure that staffing levels are adequate if room amenities increase.
Cleaning by hand, especially while kneeling or bending, is repeated, forceful work, which is often combined with awkward arm, wrist, back, and neck postures—all risk factors for increasing the likelihood of MSDs.
- Use long handled tools for cleaning tubs and toilets to reduce bending and reaching. They can also be used to dry the shower walls after rinsing by putting a towel on the end of the brush.
- Carry a light step tool on the cart and use it to clean hard to reach higher surfaces as well as changing shower curtains.
- Alternate between left and right hands when scrubbing. This allows for the use of different muscle groups.
- Wear knee pads or use a mat or towel to protect the knees when kneeling. Consider carrying a foam mat on the cart for kneeling.
- Inspect and maintain wheels and casters. Rolling is easier when wheels and casters are clean and well lubricated.
- Avoid overreaching with the arms and bending and twisting at the waist while vacuuming. Move your feet and switch hands frequently.
General cleaning and dusting
- When dusting, keep the wrist straight. Get close to the work to avoid unnecessary bending and reaching.
- Use a long handled duster to dust higher furniture.
- Instead of bending to change trash can liners, place the can on a higher surface, such as the luggage rack or table. This allows for working in a more upright posture.
- Consider switching to micro-fiber mops and cleaning cloths. Not only are they lighter but are more cost effective as they use less water and detergent.