Hospitality workers face risks every day that can lead to injury while on the job. Hotel employees perform physically demanding jobs that include laborious hands-on tasks and long hours, leading to injuries that result in workers’ compensation claims.
Housekeepers are especially vulnerable while fulfilling their routine duties and endure the majority of workplace injuries in this sector. Strain and sprain injuries are most common, resulting from the repetitive bending, pulling and lifting required during a housekeeper’s daily routine. These essential workers are lifting mattresses, pushing heavy carts and vacuums, and stretching and bending – often in awkward postures – while cleaning various surfaces.
Hotel maintenance workers also face a high level of risk on the job, as they too perform labor-intensive tasks throughout the various rooms and spaces of a hotel.
Overall, hotel workers face a higher-than-average risk of sustaining injuries on the job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that hotel and motel workers had an injury and illness incidence rate of 3.3 in 2020, while the rate of total recordable cases for all industries was 2.9. According to 2019 data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), strain and sprain claims happen 40% of the time in this sector and represent 50% of all claims costs.
These types of injuries can have a significant and lasting impact on both a worker and their employer, as employees may lose weeks, months or even years of work time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employees lost an average of 11 days of work due to sprain and strain injuries in 2019.
These injuries are expensive as well – total strain and sprain indemnity claims for hotels equaled $18.5 million (with the average claim at $9,749) in NCCI states, in 2019.
Because this workforce faces such a high risk of injury, hotel employers are continuously looking for ways to safeguard their staff. Wearable technology is emerging as a key safety solution, effectively preventing sprain and strain injuries among hotel workers, and even increasing worker productivity.
Wearables and Hospitality Worker Safety
Wearables can help prevent workplace injuries by changing the way workers behave on the job, encouraging them to reduce high risk movements. Furthermore, wearable tech can uncover the causes of many workplace risks, showing management areas to focus their attention on that could lead to injury
Small, unobtrusive and worn on a belt or another body part, wearable devices can detect when hotel workers such as housekeepers make unsafe movements, such as a risky bend, twist or overreach while making a bed or cleaning a bathroom. Real-time alerts help workers increase their awareness of these movements, causing them to self-correct and alter the way they move while doing their jobs. In this way, wearables serve as a continuous coaching system that, over time, helps to reduce the overall number of risky behaviors employees perform.
Wearable tech also provides an organization with beneficial data. Management can access actionable insights from a dashboard of collected data that details every high-risk movement detected among an entire workforce. Managers can see which workers are performing the most high-risk movements, so they know who would benefit most from additional safety training, or they can learn which job type, or shift, is driving the most risk. This data allows employers to further reduce workplace hazards.
As the number of risky movements performed by employees diminishes, over time injury rates also decrease. And because wearables help to reduce the frequency of sprain and strain injuries, which typically require long recovery times, lost or modified workdays may also go down with use of the tech.
In a 2021 actuarial report by Perr&Knight, the Kinetic wearable was shown to reduce injury frequency by 50-60% in environments where high strain and sprain rates are present – such as among hotel and motel workers – and to reduce lost workdays by 72%.
Safety Tech and Workers’ Comp
Recently, wearable tech-driven workers’ compensation policies have emerged that offer this innovative safety solution at no extra cost.
These proactive workers’ comp programs provide policyholders with wearable tech that helps to cut workplace injuries in half – and helps workers to feel better on and off the job. Risk prevention is front and center in this innovative approach to workers’ comp that makes wearable tech more accessible to companies of all sizes.
The result is safer and more productive hospitality workers, fewer workers’ compensation claims and ultimately even reduced premium costs for policyholders.
Resilience and a Competitive Edge
As labor shortages linger and pandemic travel restrictions ease, the demand on hotel workers will continue to increase. With this current strain, and the inherent injury risks housekeepers and other hotel staff already face on the job, now is an ideal time for employers to leverage the benefits of wearables. Deploying this safety technology can help hospitality companies stay resilient and give them a competitive edge.
Wearable tech empowers employers to attract new employees, retain an existing workforce and optimize operations through reduced worker injuries and claims, increased productivity and an enhanced safety culture.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gerritt Graham is EVP of Growth Strategy for Kinetic Insurance, a partnership between Kinetic and Nationwide, that provides innovative insurtech offerings that lower costs by equipping workers with wearable technology. He may be reached at [email protected]