If you are near Anaheim, CA, you don’t want to miss CH&LA’s annual seminar on the new laws affecting hoteliers in 2017.
Our very own Todd Seiders, Director of Risk Managment, will be presenting at the seminar.
Register today at CH&LA
Register today at CH&LA
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.
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
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.
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
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.Â As we have seen on multiple occasions, workplace violence and active shooter occurrences have been on a steady incline in this country.Â 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 â€“ criminal activity from a non-employee, client or customer.Â Second is the internal variety of a problem employee, employee personal relationship, hostile individual due to disciplinary actions or a facility closing.Â Be prepared by taking some very easy measures:
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.Â You not only have a legal responsibility but the obligation to your workforce.Â Negligent hiring, high-risk terminations, retention, security, and poor training open you and your organization to the possibility of a workplace violence incident.Â 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.
Coordinate a case assessment team and make sure they understand their purpose, make-up, objectives, and documentation measures.Â The need to recognize the behavioral warning signs that signal potential trouble and that evaluation of behavior is not â€˜profilingâ€™.
Remember, ignorance does not relieve an organization of responsibility.Â 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:Â http://bit.ly/1XAJN02
The past year was a big year for data breaches in the hotel industry, and industry experts say thereâ€™s no sign of it stopping any time soon. That means hoteliers not only need to work on prevention, but they also need protection in case an attack does occur.
Panelists in the session â€œNailing down responsive cyber coverage that responds to hospitality industry risksâ€ at Februaryâ€™s Hospitality Law Conference told attendees that everything about the current digital age that makes it great, such as connectability and massive data storage, also makes it a risk.
Attempting to list all of the data breaches in the past 12 months would overwhelm the presentation screen, said Joshua Gold, a cyber-insurance attorney at Anderson Kill, and the problem continues to grow.
â€œItâ€™s getting worse, not better,â€ he said.
Insuring for different scenarios
Darin McMullen, an attorney at Anderson Kill, said there are four overlapping causes of data breaches at a company:
â€œSome you have control over; some you have virtually no control over,â€ McMullen said, who added that hoteliers should review their insurance options to protect against different risk exposures.
Gold said heâ€™s working on an insurance claim for a client who had a former employee introduce malicious code into the companyâ€™s system. The code fried every controller, he said, causing physical damage to real pieces of hardware. For a networking company, this was a huge loss.
â€œThe insurance company is saying electronic commands canâ€™t cause real property damage,â€ he said. â€œIt is covered under the literal language, but they donâ€™t want to set that precedent. We will have to sue them.â€
When looking for different cyber-insurance policies, Gold said, itâ€™s important to keep in mind all the potential scenarios as some have provisions that exclude what hoteliers might need and think would be included, such as the physical damage in his clientâ€™s case. He said hoteliers should work with a savvy broker who specializes in cyber-insurance packages. There are so many different primary forms out there, he said, which can change every three to four months based on what clients face.
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1TZLnue
However, sometimes those articles inspired more questions from you. We asked two legal sources to provide some insights on your questions.
1. If someone comes in and asks me for a handicap room, can I ask them for proof they are disabled or handicapped at that point (such as a handicap sticker)?
Minh N. Vu of Seyfarth Shaw:Â â€œNo. A hotel should not inquire about or require proof of disability when a person requests an accessible room. However, it would be appropriate to say something like: â€˜The room you are requesting has features for guests with mobility and/or hearing disabilities. Would you like to continue booking this room?â€™ This clarification point is helpful to ensure that the person booking the room knows what type of room he or she is booking.â€
2. If a hotel does charge more for an ADA room, what recourse is there?Â
Minh N. Vu of Seyfarth Shaw:Â â€œHotels cannot charge more for a room just because it is accessible. The rates for comparable accessible and non-accessible rooms must be the same. A person who has been charged more for an accessible room can claim an ADA Title III violation and bring a private lawsuit. He or she can also file a complaint with the Department of Justice.â€
3. If a hotel must provide equal access to everyone and not charge an additional amount for service animals, then logic would follow that they cannot charge extra for a refrigerator to keep medication refrigerated. Can you comment on the legalities of this?Â
Taylor Burras of Michelman & Robinson:Â â€œHoteliers must make â€˜reasonable modificationsâ€™ to their standard policies when accommodating a person with a disability. Section 36.301(c) of the Americans with Disabilities Act states: â€˜A public accommodation may not impose a surcharge on a particular individual with a disability or any group of individuals with disabilities to cover the costs of measures, such as the provision of auxiliary aids, barrier removal, alternatives to barrier removal, and reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, that are required to provide that individual or group with the nondiscriminatory treatment required by the Act.â€™ Thus, it would stand to reason that a hotel cannot charge extra for a refrigerator to keep medication refrigerated.â€
4. Are therapy dogs classified as a â€œService Dogâ€? We have seen a recent influx of travelers and they carry a tag that said â€œCertified Therapy Dog.â€
Taylor Burras of Michelman & Robinson:Â â€œThe ADA defines a â€˜service animalâ€™ as â€˜any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.â€™ However, dogs with the sole function of providing comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA definition. Since they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, such therapy dogs do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
â€œItâ€™s important to note that the ADA makes a distinction between psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals. If the dog has been trained to sense that a neurological event or episode is about to happen and take a specific action that will help prevent, or lessen the impact, that dog would qualify as a service animal. However, if the dogâ€™s mere presence provides comfort or emotional support, that would not be considered a service animal under the ADA.
â€œNotably, however, some state or local governments have laws that allow people to take emotional support animals into public places, so hotels should check with their state or local government agencies to find out if they may be subject to such a regulation.â€
5. Is there an appropriate way to handle a situation where the dog is a service dog but not apparently working? (For example, there was a guest who had to carry the dog who was on chemotherapy and had arthritis in its back legs. He was trained, but it seemed he was retired and it was seemingly more of a rescue situation for a dog that had been in service.)
Minh N. Vu of Seyfarth Shaw:Â â€œWhen a hotel has reason to believe that a dog may not be a service dog, it can ask two questions: â€˜Do you need this dog because of a disability?â€™ If the answer is yes, then the second question that can be asked is: â€˜What work or tasks has this animal been trained to perform?â€™ If the owner cannot identify the work or tasks that the dog has been trained to perform for the person with a disability, the dog is not a service animal.â€
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1ParGsU
From development deals to management agreements, from food and beverage liability to labor and employment, and from claims management to anti-trust issues, the latest cases, trends and challenges in compliance, finance, law, risk, safety, and security are up for exploration at the 14th Annual Hospitality Law Conference, February 22-24, 2016.
The Owner Management Summit, co-located with The Hospitality Law Conference – 2016, intersects legal, finance and technology and includes sessions on: who owns the data, who is responsible for the data, development and unwinding management contracts.
The Hospitality Insurance and Loss Prevention Summit, co-located with the Hospitality Law Conference, includes sessions on risk management, the top claims in 2015, and coverages for cyber & data breaches.
Hotel and Restaurant Corporate Counsel have several opportunities to meet with their peers in facilitated conversations to explore common challenges, solutions and law department management.
Also featured during The Hospitality Law Conference – 2016, are break-out sessions and roundtables in Food & Beverage, Lodging, and Human Resources & Labor Relations.
Slips, falls, breaks, disruptions.Â If you are involved in the hospitality industry, you face very real threats to your financial well-being and your reputation.Â A security breach at your property, a slip by a patron, a defect in construction, or a natural disaster are examples of problems that could and should be addressed by your risk management program and your insurance.Â In this session, Todd Seiders, Director of Loss Control at Petra Risk Solutions, and Allen Wolff, Insurance Recovery Attorney with Anderson Kill, will identify and analyze some of the most frequent claims that arise in hospitality industry and will offer analysis and insight for managing the risk of such claims, mitigating the losses caused by them, and obtaining insurance coverage for them.
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 â€“ New Mexico, Nevada, Alabama and Washington, DC â€“ 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 toÂ 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
Our copycat industry is historically bad at this. We often take note of obstacles only after weâ€™ve hit them head on. In a daze, we then rush to adopt the tactics of our nearest competitor.
Why? Maybe weâ€™re not looking far enough ahead. Or maybe weâ€™re not looking for the right signals ahead.
Across all industries, executivesâ€™ future-proofing exercises typically revolve around the proverbial Next Big Thingâ€”whatâ€™s coming down the pike thatâ€™s going to change the world as we know it.
During a keynote at this weekâ€™s Marketing Outlook Forum, J. Walker Smith of the Futures Company suggested a different tact: The â€œVanishing Pointâ€ approach.
Itâ€™s hard to spot the â€œNext Big Thing,â€ Smith said. When they first materialize, theyâ€™re often too small to notice. And they come on quickly, which makes it difficult to react when you finally do notice them.
Vanishing Points are the opposite, Smith said. They are the points at which big, established factors of influence wane out of relevance. That creates a vacuum that must be replaced by something new.
Spot them early, and you can begin to anticipate what will fill the void.
Itâ€™s like a big tree falling the in the forest, Smith said. That allows sunlight to penetrate the canopy and foster growth for something new.
An example: Screens are getting smaller. What once was a desktop became a smaller laptop which became a smaller tablet which became a smaller smartphone. Now wearables are on the rise, and screens are getting even smaller.
â€œThis is the big vanishing point,â€ Smith said. â€œThe active digital screen is going away. It is being replaced by sensors, or passive digital.â€
Shoes will connect to Google Maps and buzz the right or left foot depending on which way you need to turn. Embedded technologies will track your health and fitness.
Instead of inputting data into a screen, sensors will track your behavior and send you information before you even know you needed it, Smith said.
He called it the â€œpivot to passive.â€ In the ecommerce space, Amazon is working to patent anticipatory shopping software that sends you products without you even putting them in your online shopping cart.
Think of that in travel context, Smith imagined. The agonizing booking funnel becomes an intuitive, anticipatory process that actively monitors your behavior and schedules a hotel stay accordingly.
Will it happen tomorrow? I hope not. (Iâ€™m not ready for buzzing shoes.) But it could happen one day. Maybe it will even be the Next Big Thing. Time to get out in front of it.
For more:Â http://bit.ly/1LGI05j