* Chain not found to have violated OSHA standards
* Union says workers face possible injury
May 8 Hyatt Hotels Corp employees could
face ergonomic strain as a result of heavy lifting and other
tasks involved in housekeeping, a U.S. government agency said.
The finding, contained in an April letter from the U.S.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration to the hotel
chain, did not rise to the level of meriting a general duty
clause citation, which has been used to flag hazards that could
result in serious injury or death. OSHA did not indicate Hyatt
violated OSHA standards.
But an OSHA spokesman said on-site inspections at Hyatt "did
identify the presence of ergonomic risk factors associated with
the housekeeping tasks."
In response to injury complaints filed by union-represented
workers, OSHA inspected Hyatt hotels in Illinois and Texas. The
federal agency wrote that it found risk factors involved in
housekeeping work such as repeated heavy lifting and carrying,
bending, twisting and forceful gripping.
Chicago-based Hyatt, which is controlled by the billionaire
Pritzker family, said in a statement it agreed there was no
basis to issue ergonomic risk citations for housekeeping staff.
"The health and well-being of our association remain one of
our top priorities and, as we always have, we will continue to
work with our associates to ensure that we provide a safe,
healthy workplace," Hyatt's statement said.
The OSHA letter suggested a number of strategies to Hyatt
that could reduce the level of potential stressors, including
providing workers with long-handled mops, lighter-weight vacuums
with a better hand-grip design and knee pads that can be used to
perform jobs that require kneeling.
"Employees should be consulted on evaluations of potential
risk factors and on interventional strategies," the OSHA letter
UniteHere, a union that represents hospitality workers, said
the OSHA letter validated reports by Hyatt workers about pain
and injuries received while cleaning hotel rooms.
"Over time, lifting heavy mattresses and other cleaning
activities can lead to debilitating injuries, surgery and even
permanent disability," UniteHere said in a statement.
There has been a long-running dispute between UniteHere and
Hyatt over worker safety and other issues. Hyatt has said that
UniteHere has distorted the company's safety record.
Shares of Hyatt gained 0.5 percent to $39.21 in afternoon
trading on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)