Saturday, June 09, 2007

Housekeeping's pain

Making a bed can cause injuries - if you do it several times per day ...

"Those comfy, thick comforters. The 300-count fine bed linens triple-sheeted on king-size beds with newer, heavy mattresses. Extra pillows. Robes, slippers, plush bath sheets. Refrigerators and coffee pots in every room.

It's heaven for hotel guests.

Not so much for the housekeepers.

"The worst part is the bed," said Terry Smith, a longtime housekeeper who estimates that she lifts the mattress eight times as she makes each bed.

... Joining Smith on the panel was ergonomics professor William Marras from Ohio State University. About a year before Smith started cleaning hotel rooms, Marras patented a device that, when worn by a worker, measures the twists, turns, exertions and other factors that lead to back and shoulder injuries.

Last year, Marras began to run tests on housekeepers, who in the Philadelphia area start out at an hourly wage of $7 to $13. What he found so astounded him that he ran the tests again. "I said: 'This can't be right.' "

By his calculations, a hotel housekeeper, changing sheets and wiping down showers in an air-conditioned, carpeted hotel room, is as much at risk for a back injury as a construction worker, lifting boards and hauling concrete.

"When I saw how many exertions per day they were exposed to, it made sense," he said.

"When you are making a bed, you are lifting the head or foot of the bed with lateral, twisting motions," he said. "When you do it quickly, that's where the problems are. There are good biomechanical reasons why it hurts."    (Continued via Inquirer)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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