In the past, housekeeping employees were frequently shuffling from their knees to their feet and back in order to flip a room, resulting in a laundry list of short- and long-term consequences on their bodies. Today, manufacturers and hotels can support employees by purchasing tools that work with them, not against them. Everything from the shape of vacuum cleaners to bathroom cleaning equipment is designed to keep housekeepers off of their knees.
“Ergonomics is an important piece of the business for us,” said Max Wolhfarth, GM of the Embassy Suites Dallas Park Central. “Vacuum cleaners are lighter than they used to be and glide across the carpet easier than before. Pushing something like that all day can wear out your back.”
Wolhfarth also said his property provides extensions for vacuum cleaners to help housekeeping employees dust out-of-reach areas, something that may not have been an industry standard years ago. “We don’t want [employees] crawling on furniture to reach dust in high places; that is dangerous,” he said. “Also, the use of vinyl gloves for protection is growing to the point where I don’t know of any property that doesn’t use them today.”
“When I was an executive housekeeper, not even cleaning but simply inspecting a guestroom could hurt your back from bending over,” said Matt Burros, GM of the Crowne Plaza Charleston Airport Convention Center. Burros said that many hotels have experimented with tools to help with the process of making a bed, such as wedges that lift the mattress, but most often they find that the employees are already adept at the process and do not need assistance. “Most room attendants have a very efficient process for flipping a bed,” Burros said.
Wolhfarth also said carts have improved greatly, but that fewer housekeepers are pulling them into rooms to clean. “You used to see employees pull the carts into guestrooms for safety reasons while cleaning, but pulling up to the door is more practical and preferred for our attendants,” Wolhfarth said. “I see it as a result of more security being present throughout a hotel than in the past."