Hoteliers are diligently operating in the midst of a labor shortage, but fewer hands on deck means fewer people capable of watching for precarious situations that might lead to slips, trips or falls—one of three workplace accident types that accounted for 84 percent of all non-fatal workplace injuries in 2021.
Keeping guests and fellow hotel workers safe is an imperative for operational and liability reasons—labor shortage or not. Improving safety with limited resources can best be achieved through a combination of updated policies, strict attention to detail and technology. But even with the best plans, accidents occur.
On average, 2.8 out of 100 workers in the U.S are injured in workplace accidents every year with slips, trips and falls the most frequently occurring accidents in the hospitality industry, according to Worknest. This type of workplace injury results in the longest time away from work. Additionally, medical costs and Workers’ Compensation claims associated with workplace slip and fall accidents exceed $70 billion each year according to the National Floor Safety Institute.
The 10 risk factors most closely associated with slips and falls in the hospitality industry include: non-slip-resistant floor surfaces, foreign substances (ice, grease, water, etc.), raised or recessed flooring edges/loose carpeting, walking from carpet to hard surfaces, slopes/raises in floor, extension cords/cables, poor lighting, shoe types, falls on stairs and anything that can distract walkers—such as loud noises or flashing lights. Hotel incident report data shows when most guests and employees fall, they injure their head. These incidents are also rarely witnessed by anyone else, and head injuries can lead to a loss of consciousness. When these accidents occur, time is of the essence.
Hotel employees who work in remote areas—such as housekeeping and maintenance—are the most at risk. Not only do they face the challenges listed above throughout their shifts, but they commonly work in areas where cries for help are not in earshot.
When accidents happen, employee safety devices or staff alert buttons are the quick and effective way to request and dispatch help.
Help in an Instant
Alert buttons can mean the difference between a small accident and a serious injury thanks to the ability to provide an instantaneous notification and response in the event of an emergency. These tools are useful for alerting hotel management when a hotel worker slips and falls, decreasing response times and increasing the effectiveness of any recovery efforts in the process.
Alert buttons come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but not all solutions are built equally or achieve the same goals with the same level of efficiency. Some emergency buttons are built into existing mobile messaging apps used by hoteliers across the industry. While capable of providing notifications, these solutions are not optimal as staff must activate the alert on the mobile app, an act some operators could struggle to perform in the event of a serious injury. These solutions also require that all staff have access to a mobile phone.
Instead, hotel operators should look to wearable alert buttons, such as lanyards or other physical attachments, which are more easily activated when needed most. Additionally, these buttons can provide protection from harassment or other potential attacks on isolated employees. One click, and the alert shares location and instantly calls for help.
Operators should also invest in products with built-in fall detection, as well as the ability to send important information to operators and first responders such as the location and time of the incident. These capabilities allow hotel workers to feel in control of their own safety as much as possible, while hotel operators have access to crucial information when rendering aid.
Better Safe Than . . .
The service industry, still reeling from the impacts of the pandemic, is now facing a new wave of scrutiny regarding safety and sanitation practices as consumers return to travel. Businesses are enduring greater pressure than ever to protect workers and consumers, to the point where some service providers have struggled to obtain general liability insurance as a result of past safety incidents. While an extreme scenario, hotels across the industry are already grappling with myriad operational challenges and obtaining insurance shouldn’t be one of them.
Additionally, improving worker safety goes hand in hand with improving worker retention. Hospitality workers deserve to have the best possible protection. If operators make this a priority, hospitality will be able to recruit and retain the workforce it needs to remain successful.
Tammy Estes is chief product officer at Nomadix.
This article originally appeared on Hotel Management.