Of Flat Sheets and Short-Handled Mops

Hotels and motels would be required to use fitted sheets and long-handled mops under legislation sent to the Assembly by the Senate on a party line 25 to 15 vote.

Supporters say fitted sheets will prevent housekeepers from injuring themselves by lifting heavy mattresses to tuck in sheets. Long-handled mops will prevent cleaning bathrooms on hands and knees.

“These ladies don’t play in the NBA but their injuries would keep LeBron James out of the NBA Finals,” said Sen. Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat, in a statement after the measure’s Senate passage.

“These injuries are preventable and so we must change the industry standard.”

As for the fitted sheet mandate, the California Hotel and Lodging Association estimates a compliance cost of between $30 million and $50 million.

That figure is based on California having 550,000 hotel and motel rooms, using five sheets per bed at a cost of $25 per sheet.

The bill, SB 432, requires the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt the two mandates no later than September 1, 2012.

It also defines a fitted sheet as a “bed sheet containing elastic or similar material sewn into each of the four corners that allows the sheet to stay in place over the mattress.”

Backers, which include workers compensation attorneys and trial lawyers, say that housekeepers have a higher injury rate than workers in other service industries because of repeated lifting, squatting and cleaning as well as pushing a heavy cart from room to room.

Opponents counter that they are providing ergonomic training and using long-handled tools to reduce potential injuries.

They also say efforts to reduce their bottom line, like encouraging guests to be “green” and not request new towels or changed linens, has reduced the volume of room cleaning work for housekeepers.

The measure is awaiting action in the Assembly.




  1. Poor babies – I did it for a number of years as an RN working in a hospital. It is still done today in hospitals. If the person can’t do the job physically, they should find another job. The people making out on this are the lawyers and unions. I wonder how much they’re contributing to the legislators who are voting for it.

    Comment by Gwengen — 6.07.2011 @ 7:47 pm

  2. “Supporters say fitted sheets will prevent housekeepers from injuring themselves by lifting heavy mattresses to tuck in sheets”

    Idiots! Even with a fitted sheet, you still have to lift the mattress! It’s as if these idiots writing the laws have never done an actual day of real work in their lives…

    Comment by Weasel — 8.12.2011 @ 6:32 pm

  3. It’s absurd that someone actually proposed this change. It’s even more absurd that it’s really being considered. Not having a
    fitted sheet isn’t a health risk. I don’t understand how having a fitted bottom sheet actually protects people. What a waste of resources.

    Comment by Craig Rasmussen — 9.19.2011 @ 11:31 am

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