Upstate News

February 2, 2010
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Free health clinics to focus on reducing health hazards for hotel housekeepers

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Occupational Health Clinical Center (OHCC) of Upstate Medical University will sponsor two free health clinics for hotel housekeepers Feb. 18, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Plymouth Church, 232 E. Onondaga St., Syracuse, featuring special guest Geovanny Treviño, an expert on workers’ job rights; and March 8, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Spa at 500, 500 W. Onondaga St., Syracuse.

“We’re offering these workshops to recognize the work of hotel housekeepers as they welcome visitors to our communities,” said Michael B. Lax, M.D., MPH, OHCC medical director. “The workshops reflect our commitment to prevent work-related injuries and illness.”

The workshops, conducted in English and Spanish, will include a listening session to explore the stresses and strains housekeepers experience, information about workers’ rights to a safe and healthy workplace, fact sheets on where to file complaints regarding wages, and resource packets on where to get help if physical symptoms are work-related.

According to Lax, hotel housekeepers have a high rate of injuries, particularly affecting their backs and shoulders. A study by the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) points to causes for such injuries. For example, the lifting required for king-sized bed-making exceeds its maximum safe lifting index because of its weight and its low position.

“The public might be tempted to compare home housekeeping chores with the work of these housekeepers,” Lax said, “but such a comparison would be misleading. These workers are cleaning an average of 16 rooms per day, using harsh chemical cleaners that can trigger respiratory irritation, and doing a considerable amount of lifting and lugging. Most suffer chronic pain on the job.”

For more information about the free health clinics, call 315-432-8899, ext. 27.

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