Our Return To Work Spotlight of the Month is focused on the hospitality industry. Housekeeping positions are incredibly physically demanding, requiring you to be on your feet for an entire 8.5 hour workday. Not only are they pushing the heavy supply cart from floor to floor, they are frequently bending, squatting and reaching.
We were referred direct by the Employer, who in this case had an injured worker who had work restrictions, was not back to work and was represented. Without question, the Employer wanted this Employee back. The Employer hoped that by getting us onsite to document the work environment and find a creative way to bring this person back, that the Employee would be supportive of the Return To Work process.
Housekeeper with an Arm and Shoulder injury
This employee, working for a major hospitality chain, experienced an arm and shoulder strain. She was released to work with the ability to perform medium intensity work, to be able to frequently lift/carry 20-25 lbs, occasionally lift/carry a maximum of 50 lbs, and frequently climb, push/pull and reach.
Right out of the gate we saw so much potential with the current work restrictions. During the course of our evaluation, we determined that lifting weights and push-pull forces were not factors of concern for this injured worker to return safely.
Our evaluator came up with several possible solutions.
- Reduce the number of rooms to be cleaned daily from 15 down to 8-10. Add an extra room back into the rotation every 1-2 weeks until capabilities are improved, and the Employee is back up to the 15 rooms per day hotel standard.
- Provide and encourage the use of extension poles and swivel cleaning heads when cleaning showers and tubs, to prevent strain from the reach associated with that task.
- Avoid the unassisted lift of "roll-away" beds, moving them into a vertical storage position.
- Take a transitional position in the kitchen as a dishwasher/utility worker.
We found that the original job, with our recommendations implemented was within the current work restrictions. Our evaluator also identified transitional alternative work in the hotel kitchen and made recommendations for administrative controls to reduce the physical demands and allow for the injured worker to return to work with the current work abilities.
We were disappointed to hear that even though we were able to identify two potential outcomes for Return To Work success, the Employee chose to take settlement instead. We do know that the information contained in our report was used to drive the settlement cost down by $70,000. We strive for Return To Work first and foremost, but understand that sometimes settlement is inevitable.