Minority hotel workers face more work-related risks, study finds

Hotel chains like to tout their large, comfortable beds as a selling point, but those 125-pound mattresses are likely causing greater injury to female, Hispanic and Asian hotel workers, according to a study to be published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine in January.

The union Unite Here provided data on 2,865 injuries at 50 hotels from the nation's five largest chains: Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. The study did not include luxury properties.

It was analyzed by a group of academics, who found that female, Hispanic and Asian hotel workers were 1.5 times more at risk of injury than white men. Hispanic housekeepers were twice as likely to be hurt.

The work of a housekeeper has changed dramatically as beds have gotten bigger and workloads more strenuous, said Francine Jones, a Hyatt Regency Chicago housekeeper who has spent 18 years in the industry.

"The mattresses, the carpets, the vacuums -- it's all very heavy," said Jones, who spoke during a teleconference by the union, which singled out Hyatt workers as having the highest risk of injury. Hilton as the lowest.

"When you go to your own doctor and they say you need to stay home, Hyatt is not going to pay workers' comp for you to sit at home," she added. "Their doctor says you're fine, you can go back to work, just on light duty, and there's no time to heal."

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