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Wyndham housekeepers say waste from patients endangers them

Union says staff at the hotel near MGH find syringes, blood in guest rooms

The federal government is investigating working conditions at the Wyndham hotel near Massachusetts General Hospital after housekeepers complained they were cleaning up medical waste from patients staying there after leaving the hospital.

The hospitality workers union that’s lobbying to represent the Wyndham housekeepers issued a report this week contending workers were forced to routinely dispose of used syringes and clean up vomit and other bodily fluids. One worker reported cleaning a room with so much blood it “squished underneath my feet,” according to the report from Unite Here Local 26.

Wyndham general manager Tom Chmura confirmed that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating working conditions at the hotel, but denied housekeepers are working in unsafe conditions. Chmura also questioned the source of the allegations.

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“I think they have to be taken within the context of who’s making the allegations,” he said.

With the hotel’s location next door to the hospital, MGH patients sometimes stay at the Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill before or after surgery or other procedures, according to an MGH spokesman.

Like a number of other hotels in the area, the Wyndham offers a special rate for MGH patients.

The hospital also operates a sleep lab on the second floor, but no medical treatment takes place there, he said.

The union said it surveyed 23 housekeepers at the hotel, the vast majority of whom said they had seen vomit or blood and had to clean rooms that appeared to have been occupied by a guest who had been sick.

Workers said they were not given leak-proof biohazard bags or proper latex gloves, according to the report. One said he taped plastic trash bags to his body to protect himself from blood.

Wyndham management has been resisting workers’ attempts to join a union, Brian Lang, president of Local 26, said, but the complaints filed by the housekeepers with OSHA are “independent of the issue of unionization.”

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“What the workers want is a safe and healthy workplace,” he said. “I’ve never in 30 years of dealing with the hotel industry come across anything remotely close to this situation.”

In a statement, Wyndham Hotel Group said the safety of its workers and guests is its top priority:

“On-property associates undergo safety training, which includes chemical safety, fire prevention, and blood-borne pathogen training. We’ve looked into this matter, and the claim that hotel associates are forced to handle hospital waste from Massachusetts General Hospital is false.”


Katie Johnston can be reached
at katie.johnston@globe.com.
Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.