Tag Archives: Health Hazards

Pooling Responsibilities

Almost everyone going on holiday to a warm climate will, at some point, end up in a swimming pool. But the ‘do not dive’ signs and depth warnings don’t always have the desired effect, added to which are huge variations in safety laws. Robin Gauldie assesses the dangers lurking in the depthshotel pool,underwater swimming, pool safety

Clearly, there are risks associated with swimming or even paddling on beaches where strong currents, tides and freak waves can take their toll, as can irresponsible use of powered beach toys like personal watercraft, banana boats and water skis (see ITIJ 193, February 2017, The fast and the furious … and the fatal). Yet swimming pools at resort hotels and holiday villas may ultimately be riskier than beaches for vacationers and their insurers. Travelers from countries such as Australia and the UK, where safety standards are rigorous, need to be made aware that such standards are not universal.
“As Australia has such strict water safety rules, some people assume swimming areas are safe everywhere in the world,” comments Richard Warburton, chief operating officer of 1Cover Travel Insurance, an Australian insurer. “The truth is, many popular overseas destinations, such as Thailand and Bali, just don’t have the same safety protocols in place, and holidaymakers may be at greater risk when swimming. For example, pool gates are virtually non-existent in many Asian and European destinations.”

Resort pools seem to provoke risky behaviour in a significant number of holidaymakers too. Each holiday season brings a crop of media stories covering accidents – sometimes fatal – involving tourists jumping into hotel pools from balconies, or diving into shallow pools. “Some people, particularly young adult males, take risks they wouldn’t normally take if they were at home,” says Warburton. “They don’t think of consequences.” There is an ongoing need to make insureds aware that travel insurance has its limits, he adds.

In Europe particularly, the craze known as ‘balconing’ is often a result of an alcohol-fuelled night out giving holidaymakers a sense of invincibility. Warburton, though, warns: “One of the most common misconceptions people have about travel insurance is in relation to alcohol consumption. If an accident happens and a person is under the influence, they may not be able to successfully make a claim, depending on the circumstances. This is why we encourage customers to thoroughly read all the terms and conditions of their policy. We strive to be as transparent as we can, educating customers about all facets of the policies. We want to ensure people fully understand what their policy covers them for, so they can make properly informed decisions.”

According to Megan Freedman, executive director of the US Travel Insurance Association, insurers in the US would be unlikely to turn down claims for the costs of medical treatment or assistance arising from such accidents on the sole grounds of recklessness. “Claims would not be excluded based on irresponsible behavior. However, a claim may be denied if the cause was use of alcohol or drugs, intentional self-infliction of harm or an illegal act,” she says. Some policies in the UK, by contrast, specifically exclude claims resulting from falls or jumps from balconies, as accidents and subsequently expensive medical claims resulting from such activities have arisen so often.

Preventing tragedies
Reckless teenagers, however hair-raising their escapades, are not the only source of claims arising from pool accidents. Even in destinations that are famed for their beaches and long coastlines, such as Greece or the Algarve, almost all drownings of young children occur in swimming pools, according to the European Child Safety Alliance (ECSA). In Australia, too, tourist-related swimming pool deaths involving very young children continue to be of concern, according to the Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC). The organisation has called on the tourism industry to implement water safety and risk management plans in resorts and hotels, including signage, effective barriers and education programs.
In many destinations, most such drownings occur in pools at private residences, but a significant number happen in the pools of resort hotels or holiday villas, as is the case with the much more numerous non-fatal accidents that take place in and around swimming pools each holiday season. The ECSA has estimated that for every child fatality, there may be as many as 140 near-drownings resulting in hospital admissions.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Pool And Spa, Risk Management

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, travel industries join forces to urge congressional action on Zika funding

There are daily headlines about the Zika virus. Although local transmission of the disease is currently contained within a very limited space in southern Florida, public uncertainty abounds—especially around the state and among those with any plans to travel there. State and federal public health officials are working with the resources available to them—but the U.S. Congress, mired in election-year politicking, has failed to advance a Zika funding measure.

Zika

That needs to change immediately. Safeguarding the public health, on its own, demands action. But not to be dismissed is the potential economic damage to the Floridian and national economies simply because people are too apprehensive about Zika to go about their daily lives.

Travel avoidance due to Zika fears poses a serious challenge to our nation’s travel industry, which generates $2.1 trillion in economic output for the U.S., drives job creation across the United States, and is among the top 10 employers in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Travel and tourism has continuously played a major role in our country’s post-recession recovery. Continued inaction on Zika funding puts this recovery—and millions of American jobs—on shaky ground.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Health, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Housekeeping

Keeping Hotel Housekeepers Safe

A hotel housekeeper’s duties can be grueling and intense – and can result in serious injuries.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2013 shows that hotel and motel workers had a nonfatal injury and illness rate of 5.4. The rate for all industries was 3.5.

“As more amenities continue to be offered in hotel rooms, housekeepers often are having to work even harder and more quickly,” said Gary Allread, program director of the Institute for Ergonomics at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Housekeeping

Advocates are calling for stronger protections and better ergonomics training for hotel housekeeping workers.

More work, more hazards

In 2012, hospitality workers union UNITE HERE sent a petition to the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board. The petition called for a standard to protect hospitality workers as hotels compete to offer more luxurious settings for their guests. Upgraded mattresses can weigh more than 100 pounds, UNITE HERE claims, and bath linen is larger and heavier – putting housekeeping workers at risk of overexertion. More amenities, such as larger mirrors and TVs, have to be cleaned.

“What you’re seeing now when you go into the hotel room, it’s not just two pillows on a bed, it’s four or five,” said Lorne Scarlett, industry specialist with the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, also known as WorkSafe BC. “That process they go through stuffing a pillow, they’re doing that four to five times per bed. The cleanliness of the room is scrutinized by the larger, luxury hotels. They’re not just doing a light dust. They’re doing a very determined clean each time.”

According to Ohio State University, other injury risk factors are:

  • “Forceful exertions,” including pushing heavy carts and using vacuum cleaners
  • Awkward postures while cleaning bathrooms and other areas
  • Repetitive motions, such as cleaning mirrors and changing pillowcases Maintaining postures for long periods
  • Little rest

“The good thing is we can reduce those risks through just plain, out-front awareness and education,” Scarlett said.

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Filed under Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Risk Management, Training, Workers' Compensation

Hospitality Alert – Proposition 65 Warning

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All California businesses with 10 or more employees – including lodging establishments – are covered by Proposition 65, and they therefore have to post special “warning” notices in specific locations. There is a new Proposition 65 “warning notice” required for Bisphenol A (BPA) that takes effect May 11, 2016, and it will affect a number of lodging establishments.

The new warning – which was issued by the Office of Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), applies to canned and bottled foods and beverages that are offered for retail sale (i.e., “foods and beverages packaged in hermetically sealed, durable metal or glass containers; including, but not limited to those containing fruits, vegetables, soups, pasta products, milk, soda, and alcoholic beverages”).

The obligation to provide BPA warnings falls primarily on manufacturers, producers, packagers, importers or distributors of canned and bottled foods and beverages. However, if a “retailer” or its authorized agent receives a specified written notice from a manufacturer, either “directly or through a trade association,” the retailer must then provide the BPA warning at every “point of sale.” (“Point-of-sale” means the area within a retail facility where customers pay for foods and beverages, such as the cash register or check-out line where the warning sign is likely to be seen and understood prior to the consumer purchasing the canned or bottled food or beverage. Point-of-sale also includes electronic check-out functions on Internet websites. OEHHA has advised CH&LA that “point-of-sale” includes vending machines.).

Hotels that sell or provide canned and bottled foods and beverages (e.g., a sundry shop or food sale area, or in connection with conventions or business meetings) will be required to post the warning.

(Note: manufacturers and others in the chain of distribution must “provide, or offer to provide, to the retail seller, at no cost, a sufficient number of the required point-of-sale warning signs ….” If you receive such a notice, ask your distributors to provide you with the warning signs.)

The specific BPA warning must:

Contain the word “WARNING” in all capital letters and bold print, and the words: “Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to the State of California to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information go to: www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/BPA.”

The warning sign should be no smaller than 5 x 5 inches. The BPA warning must be “displayed with such conspicuousness, as compared with other words, statements, designs, or devices at the point-of-sale, as to render it likely to be read and understood by an ordinary individual prior to purchase of the affected products.”

Important Note: Prop. 65 already has a different, non-BPA, warning requirement for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that sell foods and non-alcoholic beverages (WARNING: Chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm may be present in foods or beverages sold or served here.) In the context of hotels, this general warning for foods and non-alcoholic beverages needs to be provided in all dining rooms and areas, and also in room service menus and in other appropriate places.

Members should bear in mind that CH&LA is not a law firm, and this alert is not intended as legal advice. Lodging operators with questions should consult with legal counsel. Members are also free to contact our Member Legal Advisor, Jim Abrams (jim@calodging.com).


 

CH&LA has explanatory materials on the Prop. 65 signage requirements. CH&LA and CABBI members can access these materials in the “members” section of www.calodging.com. Non-members should contact Sandra Oberle (Sandra@calodging.com) for this information.

Petra CHLA_proud sponsor


 

 

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Filed under Food Illnesses, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Risk Management, Training, Uncategorized

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

Infographic: How to Detect Bed Bugs

Infographic

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

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.

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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

Workplace Violence – How to Deal with a Disgruntled Ex-Employee

violence
You are an executive working intently in your office when your assistant calls and informs you that a disgruntled ex-employee has shown up at the facility with a weapon and is threatening violence.  Will you know what to do, or better yet, what not to do?

 

Workplace violence can be defined as any act that creates intimidating, hostile, and offensive or a threatening work environment through unwelcome words, actions or physical contact.  As we have seen on multiple occasions, workplace violence and active shooter occurrences have been on a steady incline in this country.  Are you and your company prepared?

There are two types of workplace violence that need to be taken into consideration. First is the external variety – criminal activity from a non-employee, client or customer.  Second is the internal variety of a problem employee, employee personal relationship, hostile individual due to disciplinary actions or a facility closing.  Be prepared by taking some very easy measures:

  • Have a  written policy that is known throughout your organization
  • Take the position of ‘no tolerance’ for this activity
  • Train employees and provide ongoing training
  • Make sure your plan protects first, then concentrates on compliance
  • Understand and effectively communicate the legal implications

The potential deadly situations are reasonably foreseeable and this should be the standard used for compliance and determination of liability. Understand what data you need to assist in the prevention of workplace violence.  You not only have a legal responsibility but the obligation to your workforce.  Negligent hiring, high-risk terminations, retention, security, and poor training open you and your organization to the possibility of a workplace violence incident.  Human resources plays a key role in your workplace violence plan through effective pre-employment screening, establishing discrete communications channels, an Employee Assistance Program and coordination with your security personnel regarding response plans.

Do not allow yourself to make these five critical mistakes:

  • Denial and avoidance
  • Not having a threat response plan
  • Acting too hastily
  • Lack of total workforce participation
  • Insufficient assessment process

Coordinate a case assessment team and make sure they understand their purpose, make-up, objectives, and documentation measures.  The need to recognize the behavioral warning signs that signal potential trouble and that evaluation of behavior is not ‘profiling’.

Protective measures include:

  • A facility security audit
  • Obtaining local crime statistics
  • Recording a history of incidents
  • Personnel training
  • General security awareness training
  • An established liaison with local law enforcement.

Remember, ignorance does not relieve an organization of responsibility.  In summation, an organization has a Duty of Care responsibility to their employees and must plan, train, recognize, manage and respond to this growing problem within the business community.

For more: http://bit.ly/1XAJN02

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Filed under Crime, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Labor Issues, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training