Category Archives: Claims

High Wind Warning in Southwestern California

PACIFIC STORM SYSTEM TO BRING DAMAGING HIGH WINDS TO SOCAL…

A strong Pacific storm system will move across Southern California today through Saturday. Winds will increase and become very strong towards midday. The strongest winds and biggest potential for damaging wind gusts between 2 PM and Midnight. More info on the storm from Google Alert

Does your hotel have an emergency response plan in place? Does your staff know how to respond to severe weather emergencies? This short video will cover proper steps to prepare your staff on how to respond to these type of emergencies.

Petra, Severe Weather, Hotels, california

 

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Filed under Business Interruption Insurance, Claims, Flood Insurance, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Insurance, Liability, Risk Management, Severe Weather

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.

More on the article: http://bit.ly/2f1XGrZ

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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

The Ransomware Dilemma: Is Paying Up a Good Idea?

The ongoing fight against ransomware attacks and the cyber criminals perpetuating this menace is more than a full-time job. In a cyber world without boundaries, ransomware has become a worldwide problem where no organization is immune to victimization.

According to some security experts, the first known reports of ransomware attacks took place in Russia in 2005. Over the past 10 years, these attacks have spread to all corners of the globe, successfully targeting hundreds of thousands of business systems and home PCs. And, the effects are mounting: the FBI reported ransomware-driven losses of $18 million over a 15-month period in 2014 and 2015.

The way ransomware works is by making an infected device unusable by locking the screen or system, encrypting its data and then demanding a ransom to unlock and decrypt this data. In some cases, once the user’s PC is infected, the ransomware also displays threatening messages disguised as coming from a law enforcement agency in order to appear credible while intimidating the PC owner. Payment is usually demanded in the form of bitcoins, a virtual currency that is untraceable.

ransomware

This is apparently what happened at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California in early February 2016 when it fell victim to malware, which locked the hospital’s computer infrastructure. According to reports, to remain operational and continue providing patient care, the hospital was forced to use “old school” methods including paper records, faxing, and good old-fashioned pen and paper.

In a letter regarding the attack, following a bitcoin payment of $17,000, hospital CEO Allen Stefanek stated “…The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.”

Click here to read the entire article: http://bit.ly/2c6mdvh

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Filed under Business Interruption Insurance, Claims, Crime, Hotel Industry, Insurance, Management And Ownership, Privacy, Technology, Theft

Successful Education Session at CH&LA SoCal Conference

Petra Risk Solutions had a successful education session at CH&LA‘s SoCal Conference. Todd Seiders, CLSD, Director of Risk Management, presented “Today’s Safety & Security Challenges for Hotels”. Over 100 people attended! They walked away educated and with a better understanding on how to handle phone scams, human trafficking situations, renting hotel room to minors, ADA scams, and the recent Erin Andrews/ privacy ruling.  Todd CH&LA NoCal & SoCal conference

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Filed under Claims, Conferences, Crime, Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Insurance, Risk Management, Theft

Legionella: A Growing Problem in the Hospitality Industry

Legionella bacteria were identified in 1976 as the cause of Legionnaires’ disease (a deadly pneumonia) and Pontiac fever. More recently, rates of contamination and infection have been on the rise across the United States and around the world. Not only are there new, unexpected sources of contamination, but also drinking water sources and infrastructure (in addition to premise plumbing) have been implicated in the increased spread of Legionella. In order to avoid expensive, public evacuation and closure, hotel operators are beginning to monitor their facilities for Legionella contamination.

legionella

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella infection has a 5 to 30 percent mortality rate and is responsible for at least 8,000 to 18,000 U.S. hospitalizations each year. The sick and elderly are most vulnerable, but anyone is susceptible. Each week there are new reports of Legionella contamination in hotels, cruise ships, and hospitals that has resulted in closure for remediation. Several high-profile deadly outbreaks have occurred recently, including one around Flint, Mich., (nine deaths) associated with its lead contamination. Twelve deaths from Legionnaires’ contracted at a hotel in the South Bronx last summer prompted New York State to pass a regulation on the monitoring of cooling towers for Legionella. Because contamination is intensifying—The Lancet reported a 219 percent increase in reported cases of infection during 2000-2009—incidents like these, and subsequent regulations like New York’s, are expected to become more common.

Legionella prefers warm, wet environments, but because it can grow in a wide range of temperatures and conditions, it is ubiquitous in both natural and industrial environments. Infection occurs after inhalation, so any process that creates fine water droplets or aerosols (evaporative condensers, showers, spas, pools, decorative water features, or sprinklers) can spread Legionella. More unusual cases of infection have occurred as well. Recently, The New England Journal of Medicine reported strong evidence of person-to-person transmission. Grocery store produce misters in the United States and abroad have caused outbreaks when not cleaned regularly. Particularly surprising was the spread of Legionella through communities in Spain by street paving and cleaning trucks, resulting in 59 cases and 11 deaths. In these cases, identifying, removing, and cleaning the vehicles responsible ended the outbreaks.

In its Hotel Safety and Security Assessment Form, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) recommends that procedures be in place to monitor and mitigate Legionella. It is essential to detect the bacteria early with a rapid, on-site test, allowing prompt, targeted treatment. This will minimize the risk of more extensive contamination leading to closure and undesirable publicity, or worse, infection of employees or guests. However, the Legionella detection methods currently in use fail to meet all of the above criteria. Culturing, the method recommended by ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 for building water systems, is generally accurate and quantitative, but very slow (one to two weeks), and, for multiple reasons, plagued by false negatives. PCR is faster, though not rapid (8-24 hours), not quantitative, and is subject to both false positives and negatives. Both methods are elaborate and expensive, cannot be performed on-site, and require scientific training. Strip tests are simple, but not quantitative, and do not detect all of the deadly species of Legionella.

A new method being adopted by hotel chains and cruise lines, called immunomagnetic separation capture enzyme immunoassay (IMS-CEIA), meets the need for a fast, on-site Legionella test without the disadvantages of the other methods. With minimal training, it can be used by facility employees to monitor water systems and cooling towers, so that when necessary, prompt action can be taken while a subset of samples are sent for confirmation by culture testing.

The continued global expansion of Legionella contamination and outbreaks has heightened the need for preventive monitoring by the hospitality industry. Incorporation of a testing program that can be performed on-site by hotel staff will enable rapid, targeted mitigation.

For more: http://bit.ly/1M0iYSv

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Filed under Claims, Health, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Reduce Workplace Injuries, Boost Productivity

High levels of customer satisfaction in the hospitality and leisure industries are critical to the success of any property. It is even more challenging to maintain customer satisfaction while reducing costs associated with employee injuries and the workers’ compensation claims. Employees are continually trained on the nuances of customer service skills and customer interactions in order to achieve the best levels of service. However, maintaining a high level of productivity is difficult when employees have been injured. Increasing injury rates result in higher workers’ compensation insurance, medical care, and claim costs.

Taking a look at the causes of work-related injuries, implementing standardized work practices, and making simple changes can yield a significant decrease in injury risk and an increase in productivity. A single property within a national hotel chain has been able to decrease its workers’ compensation costs by $500,000 in the first year while improving its customer satisfaction ratings.

Within the U.S. hospitality and leisure industry, food services and accommodations employees represent 12.9 million of the 15 million employees. In 2014, the recordable injury rate among these employees was 3.6 injuries per 100 full-time employees. These injury rates can be higher among employees in departments such as housekeeping and banquet operations. One study indicated that up to 95 percent of the housekeepers indicated they experienced severe to very severe physical pain.

Any effective ergonomics and process improvement program should include aspects such as management support, employee involvement, training, problem identification, early reporting of injury symptoms, evaluation of hazard controls, implementation of hazard controls, and evaluation of progress.

Productivity

Effective administration and implementation of each aspect is important, but knowing which changes will bring the most improvement in productivity and injury reduction can make a big difference.

 

Let’s take a look at housekeeping: Their work ensures proper cleaning as well as maintaining the visual standards of the brand. Over the past decade, consumers’ expectations of luxury as it relates to hotel rooms have increased. Furnishings are more luxurious and often include thicker mattresses, plush duvets, decorative bed skirts, and the inclusion of a variety of pillows.

In an effort to reduce injury risk while maintaining or improving customer satisfaction within a housekeeping department, we reviewed common tasks and identified the tasks that were most likely to cause injury. A detailed study was conducted of these common housekeeping tasks, such as cleaning bathrooms, changing and making beds, and removing trash and soiled linen. The evaluations determined the extent of injury risk factors and opportunities to improve the quality of the services performed. After the analysis, recommendations were made related to the selection of appropriate tools, the modification of techniques for cleaning showers and bath tubs to decrease awkward postures and minimize forces, and the identification of methods to minimize awkward postures and forces while changing beds and handling trash and dirty linens. One key factor in the success of these changes was training the employees in the appropriate methods, injury risk factors, and the proper use of tools. The changes made within the housekeeping department decreased duvet-making time by 32 percent while maintaining a standard look; reduced the number of awkward shoulder postures by 72 percent; and reduced the number of awkward back postures by 45 percent. Guests indicated an improvement by a 5 percent increase in customer cleanliness ratings.

Another department that commonly experiences a high number of injuries is the banquet operations department. Within the banquets area, server and setup tasks were also evaluated. Following similar principles, tasks were identified that had previously caused injury or were difficult to perform. Evaluations were again conducted and recommendations were made. These recommendations involved working with vendors to identify the changes to carts that could make the most impact on decreasing push/pull forces while not decreasing the load on the carts. Additionally, standardized methods of room setup and table movement were established. These simple changes and employee training yielded a decrease in injury risk, improved employee morale, and increased efficiency.

Maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction while minimizing employee injuries and workers’ compensation costs in hospitality and leisure industry is critical to the success of any property. Evaluation of tasks by a qualified professional (such as a certified professional ergonomist) can ensure that risk factors are appropriately identified and that the recommendations will adequately reduce injury risk. Minimizing costs, reducing injuries, improving efficiency, and improving customer satisfaction ratings are benefits of a successful ergonomics and process improvement program.

For more: http://bit.ly/1SaVAye

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Filed under Claims, Employee Benefits, Employee Practices, Health, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Insurance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training

New Robotic Exoskeleton Technology is Here From Panasonic

Mobility may be one of the most important elements in maintaining personal autonomy. And now, thanks to the incredible technology behind robotic exoskeletons, the elderly, the injured, and many others can experience mobility like never before. In a new video, Panasonic unveils its latest achievements in the robotics field, applying advanced control and sensor technologies to create a motor-equipped robot that will assist with human body mechanics.

Panasonic has developed a pair of suits — one meant primarily for industrial purposes, and another to help the disabled. The power assist suits will help users perform manual labor and potentially dangerous tasks in a range of worksites, and Hiromichi Fujimoto, president of Activelink Co. (one of Panasonic’s in-house venture companies) noted, “We are proposing robotics to help at these worksites, because there will always be a certain level of work that must be done by people, and these power assist suits can help reduce the physical strain during such work.”

To help with lifting and carrying heavy loads, Panasonic has introduced the AWN-03, an assist suit designed specifically to provide lower back support. By sensing the wearer’s motion when lifting or holding heavy objects, the suit sends a signal to its motors to jump into action. By raising the user’s upper body while simultaneously pushing on their thighs, the suit promises to reduce stress on the lower back by 15 kg.

Panasonic

There are also two additional suits that could be used in industrial settings — the PLN-01 (the “Ninja”) is meant to help the user’s motion while walking and running, whereas the Power Loader is heralded as a powerful suit perfect for use during disaster relief, construction, and public works.

On the other end of the spectrum, Panasonic has unveiled suits meant for the elderly. “As Japan has becomes an aging society, Panasonic is aspiring to make its contribution by supporting the elderly and their families lead a comfortable life full of smiling faces and laughter” explained Hitoshi Sasaki, assistant director of Sincere Kourien, an elderly care facility run by Panasonic Age-Free. “There are many instances that can be straining to both caregivers and care recipients. Just moving from the bed to a wheelchair can be a very energy consuming for both parties.”

For more: http://bit.ly/1UGTjAW

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Filed under Claims, Employee Practices, Health, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology, Workers' Compensation

California Businesses 40% More Likely to be Sued by Employees

California

It’s time for California insurance agents to revisit their commercial clients’ liability portfolio.

According to a report released this week from Hiscox, businesses in the Golden State are 40% more likely than their peers to be sued by an employee. In fact, just four states – New Mexico, Nevada, Alabama and Washington, DC – outstrip California when it comes to employee lawsuits.

The reasons why are complicated, but report authors suggest that state laws going beyond federal guidelines are the most likely cause of discrepancies in the rate of employee lawsuits between states. When it comes to California, that means strict regulation around anti-discrimination and fair employment practices that subject businesses to higher scrutiny from workers.

Discrimination, as defined by these laws, comes in many forms including age (over age 40), disability, national origin, race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy) and genetic information (diseases or disorders in family medical history).

More clear is the effect such lawsuits have on businesses. According to Hiscox, the average legal dispute regarding an employment matter lasts 275 days and in 19% of cases, defendants are subject to a defense and settlement payment. When that happens, businesses can expect to bill their insurers an average $125,000 in claims while taking $35,000 in deductibles on themselves.

The report comes just months after a similar survey from Littler Mendelson, in which 57% of human resource and C-suit professionals said they expect workplace discrimination claims to become one of the top business risks in the next years.

The statistics are a serious argument in favor of ample employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) for California businesses. Without proper coverage, clients could end up on the hook for an extra $90,000, going by national averages. Inadequate limits could also cause a sting, though arguably less of one.

For more: http://bit.ly/1OshHAO

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Filed under Claims, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Insurance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Risk Update: “7 Workers’ Comp Issues To Watch”

Today’s Workers’ Comp market is generally favorable, but several emerging medical and demographic challenges have the potential to upset the current balance. By better understanding the possible impact of these new variables on the market, buyers and brokers will be able to continue to protect employees—and their bottom lines.

MEDICAL CHALLENGES

1. The Affordable Care Act may well increase Workers’ Comp costs by increasing demand for medical services from a fixed number of providers. If more Americans can buy medical services, the cost of those services will rise. Beyond higher prices, greater demand will also lead to longer treatment and recovery times as claimants wait to get appointments, potentially impacting indemnity costs.

2. The growing use of—and cost for—physical therapy causes challenges. Fee schedules for physical therapy have increased over the past two years in nine states that have the greatest use of PT in Workers’ Comp claims. California increased its fee schedule for all physical therapy billing codes by 5% to 6% in March, while New Jersey upped its schedule by 3.6% last fall. Managing the utilization and cost of physical therapy is becoming a key issue, so much so that clients, prospects and brokers are asking TPAs more questions about their strategies in this area.

3. The variability of WC costs and treatments among states threatens the  market. There is no reason why the cost for treating the same type of work-related injury should differ significantly from state to state—but it does. The median medical benefit per Workers’ Comp claim by state is $26,124, according to NCCI data. California and Delaware have medical benefits per claim over 50% greater than the median, while Massachusetts and Rhode Island are well below half the median.

There is good news, however. Medical treatment guidelines and drug formularies continue to be developed in states across the country. As experts with a shared interest in cost-effectively delivering quality medical outcomes for injured workers, all of us must understand this issue, and translate that understanding into action by becoming involved in efforts to improve workers’ compensation systems and develop treatment guidelines and formularies.

For more: http://bit.ly/1P19DIw

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Filed under Claims, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Risk Update: “5 Ways to Pummel Pests at Your Hotel”

“(Hoteliers) really should have an independent inspection of their vendors,” Rivard said. “The prime food producers throughout the country already do that. They’re checking them out,20150911_pest control whether they’re buying some ingredient or working with a pallet manufacturer.”

A hidden danger of record high demand is more guests walking through the door means a higher chance anything from bed bugs to cockroaches to rats and ants are following right behind.

One of the few things more disconcerting than the pests themselves is the effect they can have on your bottom line.

A recent survey conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky showed a single online review mentioning a bed bug sighting caused many to immediately write off a hotel. The first reaction of 56% of potential guests will be to no longer consider staying at that property, 7% will shorten their stay and 12% will seek to avoid that hotel’s brand in the future.

The same survey, results of which have not yet been published, showed 60% of guests who spot a bed bug would immediately leave the hotel, which is almost three times as many as those who would leave after finding someone else’s blood somewhere in a guest room.

“It’s a maddeningly difficult problem to deal with,” said Michael Potter, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky and one of the authors of the study. “Everybody is dealing with bed bugs … but hospitality is especially vulnerable because people rely so much on social media when making decisions.”

The potential damage to your hotel’s reputation is only worsened when considering the fact that less than a third of those surveyed could identify successfully a bed bug, with many confusing other pests like lice, ants, termites and ticks for bed bugs.

The harsh reality is there are no 100% infallible methods to keep pests from darkening your doorways, but there are some things to make sure they’re less welcome after arrival.

Here are five ways experts seek to prevent pests.

For more: http://bit.ly/1gmpxiM

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Filed under Bed Bugs, Claims, Guest Issues, Health, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Insurance, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training