Health and Safety in the Hotel Industry (Part 6)
Hotels see a vast throughput of people and employ thousands of staff – all of whom are exposed to safety risks on a daily basis. Do you know what those risks are, and are you aware of how to safeguard your customers and staff? Find out in our series of articles.
A recent spate of cases involving health and safety at hotels has focused attention on the procedures that need to be followed in order to ensure that guests and members of staff are kept safe whilst on the premises. Failure to do so can mean prosecution, fines, imprisonment, injury and in some cases, death. Even if the injuries sustained are minor, the damage to the reputation of a hotel whose very livelihood depends on both repeat and new business from the general public can be catastrophic.
Putting control measures into place and checking them to ensure that they continue to be effective is essential to comply with health and safety legislation. Such measures also make sure that guests and staff have a safe environment in which to work and move around.
Specific hazards and environments
Let’s take a look at some of the problems that are specific to the hotel and hospitality industry and what steps can be taken to make them safer.
Tasks such as taking delivery of heavy consignments, putting them onto shelves, moving full containers, carrying crockery, cleaning kitchen equipment, making beds and using cleaning equipment are all categorised as manual handling. If correctly carried out according to a safe system of work, it is unlikely that any injury will result.
However, injuries may well happen either as a result of one serious incident or because of stress and strain that has built up over a period of time.
Back pain is often caused by lifting and carrying heavy items whilst upper limb injuries often result from forceful or repetitive activities and poor posture.
Hotels should conduct assessments of all working areas so that any risks can be identified. This assessment should also be able to show if any lifting or carrying tasks can be eliminated through the use of other working methods. It will also point out where staff need training in manual handling as it relates to their job.
Staff should be allowed rest breaks and their work tasks should be varied wherever possible to avoid excessive strain on one particular groups of muscles.
If mechanical aids are available, they should be used. The hotel should ensure that if such aids are used, staff receive training on how to employ them.
Pests can cause a problem, particularly in hotels, where doors are left open and people are coming in and out regularly. In hot weather, windows are often left open for ventilation and this can allow the ingress of insects. There are also problems with quantities of food being stored which can prove attractive to creatures such as rats, flies and others.
Key to handling and managing this problem is the maintenance of good standards of hygiene. The services of professional pest controllers may be needed if there is a problem that cannot be eradicated by staff. However, pest controllers will most likely use chemicals that can have hazardous properties and the hotel should ensure that it has evidence of competence from the company that it selects, as well as details on the properties of any substances that are used for pest control.
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