May 4, 2016
By John Quinn, LaborPress USA
Los Angeles, CA – Due to the number of hotel guests whose stays are related to medical treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center across the street, housekeeping employees at the Sofitel Los Angeles fear they have higher-than-typical risks of occupational exposure to blood-borne pathogens.
Hotel personnel that clean rooms at the Sofitel Los Angeles have filed a complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) alleging that they do not have the proper equipment to safely handle linen contaminated with blood or to remove used syringes and needles they encounter in guest rooms.
In their Cal/OSHA filing, the employees claim they routinely handle bloodied bed linens. Workers also claim they pick up used syringes and needles, and see bandages, gauze, medicines, and other extraordinary indicators of guests’ medical treatment and possible illness as they perform their normal job duties.
Housekeeper Silvia Alvarez said that when she finds bloody sheets, “I use my gloves and then remove them and put them in the dirty linen.” She said she throws sheets out “sometimes if there’s too much [blood].” The hotel does not inform staff before they work in rooms occupied by Cedars-Sinai hospital patients. Housekeeper Alvarez said there are no special rooms or floors for the guests who are hospital patients; they stay “wherever.” Housekeeper Maria Galvez said she only knows if a guest is a hospital patient after she enters the room.
Workers fear they are at risk of contracting hepatitis B or other blood-borne pathogens because they do not have proper equipment or adequate training. In addition to concerns about needles, the hotel does not provide workers with disposable latex or nitrile gloves for changing bloodied bed linen. Workers say that the yellow rubber gloves the hotel provides for jobs like cleaning bathrooms are inadequate.