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Housekeepers File Complaint on COVID-19 Protection


By Dan Hounsell Emergency Preparedness
Worker cleaning classroom

Over the last four months, facility managers have taken a close look at nearly every aspect of institutional and commercial facilities, from entrances to HVAC systems, as they seek to create safe workplaces for returning occupants.

But as they take steps to protect occupants from the coronavirus, they also need to include the health of in-house staff – maintenance and engineering technicians and housekeepers – in their plans, since these workers cannot perform their jobs remotely. Not doing so adequately can have dire consequences.

The union representing housekeepers and facilities workers at the University of Maryland, College Park filed a complaint with the State Higher Education Labor Relations Board on July 10 urging the school to enforce a mandatory coronavirus testing policy, supply more protective equipment and provide more coronavirus-specific training, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Housekeepers expressed concern that there are no temperature checks or other screenings required for staff working in the dorms. Instead, the workers reporting to campus are told to fill out an online form that asks them to report any symptoms they are experiencing and take their own temperatures.

Meanwhile, one housekeeper at Maryland has already tested positive for COVID-19, union leaders say, and the school had to halt football practices after several athletes tested positive. The school has hosted voluntary coronavirus testing on campus but has no plans to make testing compulsory when students return in the fall.

Dan Hounsell is editor of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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