Monthly Archives: October 2016

Mitigating the Risk of Food-Borne Illnesses at Hotels

Think of a hotel located near a stretch of bucolic farmland. Picture the large fields of crops, cows and sheep grazing behind picturesque fences. While this may seem like a calm and relaxing scenario, one that attracts guests eager to get a taste of the country life, they could be getting a mouthful of something much less appetizing. Flies are abundant in areas with livestock, and, unfortunately, can transmit food-borne diseases.

Ron Harrison, Ph.D., a technical services director at pest control specialist Orkin, is currently working with a number of hotels suffering from pest problems, and, as a result, compromised food safety. “Hotels have to do everything they can to ensure that pests don’t enter the property, because they can cause food-related illnesses if they get access to the property’s food supply,” Harrison says.

food borne

Pests are just one of many factors that can affect food safety and spread food-borne illnesses, which are a major issue in the United States. Francine Shaw, president of Food Safety Training Solutions, a company that offers food-related consulting and training services, says that food poisoning affects one in six Americans every year. And, in that same time frame, it also causes the hospitalization of 120,000 people and leads to 3,000 deaths. “It seems like every time we turn on the television, pick up a newspaper, or read the news online, there’s another outbreak. But the amazing thing is that the huge, multi-state outbreaks spotlighted in the news are only responsible for 11 percent of all food-borne illnesses,” she explains.

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Filed under Business Interruption Insurance, Claims, Food Illnesses, Guest Issues, Health, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hotel Workers Seek New Safety Measures After Freezer Death

Federal regulators and hotel employees are calling for new safety measures after a worker was found dead inside a walk-in freezer at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta.

Investigators believe Carolyn Mangham spent about 13 hours at temperatures below minus 10 Fahrenheit. Her frozen body was found after her husband called the hotel to report her missing.

Devices should be placed inside the large freezers so that anyone trapped or injured inside could send an alarm directly to hotel security or emergency services, union leaders say.

Hotel employees also want to carry “panic buttons” to alert others to emergencies.

freezer trapped alarm

“At the end of the day everyone deserves to go home to their families,” said Wanda Brown, who worked with Mangham at the hotel and is president of the Atlanta chapter of the UNITE HERE union.

“We’ve given our demands to the hotel and we are waiting for a response, but we will not stop asking for these things to be done,” Brown said.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing about $12,500 in penalties for a serious safety violation in the death of Mangham, 61, who also went by Carolyn Robinson.

In a Sept. 23 letter, OSHA recommended that the Atlanta hotel voluntarily develop a system of “notification and ongoing communication” for workers entering the walk-in freezers. The agency also recommends the hotel develop a system to periodically check on employees during their shifts.

“The OSHA report is part of an ongoing process and we are planning to contest their findings and recommendations,” Carrie Bloom, a Starwood spokeswoman, said in a statement Wednesday night.

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Filed under Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Liability, OSHA, Risk Management

Showing Housekeeping Staff Appreciation

Housekeepers are an integral part of the hotel industry, and employee appreciation is a professional form of endearment that not only boosts the morale of the workplace but also the quality of work being produced, with 91 percent of workers saying they feel motivated to do their best when they have leadership support. Madeline Chang, director of housekeeping at Aston Waikiki Sunset in Honolulu and director at large of the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA), explains why hoteliers should take a second look at how they appreciate their housekeeping staff.

How can hoteliers be better attuned to their housekeepers’ needs?
Housekeepers are the eyes and ears of any operation. They have a direct impact on your guests’ experience, so it’s important to listen to them and hear the challenges or frustrations they might be experiencing. While you can create an open-door policy that establishes a channel for them to communicate with you, not all housekeepers will do that, so you should take the time to regularly walk the floors and speak with them directly. Hold daily morning briefings (which is a must not only for them but for me to set the tone for the day), carry out observations, get them to communicate their thoughts and suggestions, and make them an integral part of the operation. This buy-in from the management team and teammates is extremely helpful. Always keep them in the loop.

What are some ways in which hoteliers are already getting it right with housekeeper appreciation?

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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Housekeeping, Human Resources