Housekeeping in hotels is a physically demanding job and takes a huge toll on one’s body. Tasks for the workday include making beds, cleaning and sanitizing the washroom, vacuuming, dusting, and tidying up a room. Doing these daily tasks may lead to common hazards and injuries for hospitality workers. Injuries do not apply just to housekeeping but to all jobs in the hospitality industry. Some examples of these jobs include restaurant workers, receptionists, valet attendants, baristas, and wedding coordinators. Here are some ways to ensure health and safety in the hospitality industry.
|Hazard Type||Description||Prevention Methods||Good Practice Examples|
|Slips, trips, and falls||The most common injury for hospitality workers results from slipping, tripping, and falling. Spillage, wet floors, obstacles, workers rushing, and blocked pathways can contribute to these injuries.||Appropriate shoes, warning signs, communication, cleaning up spillage, and good lighting are some prevention methods to help avoid the risk of injuries.||In the kitchen, after something spills, it is important to wipe and clean it immediately or vocalize it to the team while putting a clear and concise sign to signal the spillage.|
|Hazardous chemicals||Hospitality workers use chemicals to clean. Some of these solutions may contain hazardous chemicals.||Enforcing gloves to be worn at all times while handling harmful chemicals is crucial to the health and well-being of a company’s employees.||For hotel safety, all housekeeping staff must wear gloves while handling or touching any hazardous chemicals to ensure safe cleaning.|
|Injury from machines/supplies||This hazard is common in the hospitality industry as there are different supplies and machines that employees are in contact with. If proper training is not mandated, then improper handling of the machines and supplies could lead to serious injuries.||Provide safety training from management on how to handle equipment and supplies. It is also important to have the employees practice under supervision to see if they are handling the supplies correctly.||One example is in fast food, where employees use a potato-cutting machine for their fries. Employees are taught to use this machine safely and efficiently, so there are no injuries to the workers’ fingers.|
|Fires||For hospitality workers that work in the kitchen, proper supervision is necessary when stoves are being turned on or off. It is important to train employees on the proper list of things to do when there is a fire.||Training on emergency situations for dealing with fires is important for the staff’s safety. It is a crucial part of training to show where the fire extinguisher is, so employees know where to go if there is a fire. If the fire is big, then it is important to know where the exits are and to sound the alarm so customers and other employees can exit the property.||If there is a fire at your building, employees should assess the situation and see whether it is a fire they can easily extinguish with a fire extinguisher. If the fire is bigger, evacuate the building and get as many people alerted as possible. If employees are able, sounding the alarm and calling the fire or police department are also important.|
|Mental illness or stress||Pressure in the hospitality industry can cause employees to be overly stressed. It can even cause some employees to develop mental illnesses due to the strenuous nature of the work.||Breaks during shifts are important to enforce. These breaks can help employees regain energy. It is also important for managers to remind their employees to take days off.||If an employee has been working without time-off for a while, a manager should step in and let the employee know that it is okay to take some time off and that it may be good for them to do so. This can help manage work/life balance and can create a happier work environment with less stress.|
|Muscle injury||The hospitality industry is known for long hours of physical activity. If, while working, employees carry heavy items without appropriate stretching, their muscles can strain. This can lead to muscle injury.||Letting your employees stretch throughout the day can prevent muscle strain. This also may prevent problems for the employee in the future.||Outside of their two fifteen-minute breaks, enforce 5 minutes of stretching among your employees. This will help in the long-run and acts as a momentary stress relief for your workers.|
|Electrical hazards||Hospitality workers are exposed to electrical devices and water. It is important not to mix these two, as employees can get electrocuted that way.||Management can ensure all socket circuits are protected by a working RCD (residual current device). These are located on an electrical distribution board. These can supply electricity to equipment such as toasters, mixers, meat slicers, and kettles.||Some companies require industrial sockets in order to prevent water ingress. Additionally, some companies have light fittings that are upgraded to protect against water and steam.|
|Cuts, scalds, and burns||Employees in this industry are also exposed to cuts, scalds, and burns. It is crucial to train on safety methods with dealing with supplies to avoid these injuries.||Proper training on how to use equipment can prevent employees from getting cuts, scalds, and burns. If employees do receive these injuries, it is important that steps are taken to prevent lifelong injuries.||During employee training in restaurants, it is crucial to teach them the best ways to handle equipment and supplies so they avoid injuries.|
|Fatigue||Long work hours and physical activity can lead to exhaustion. It is important to monitor how your employees are doing.||Proper breaks and drinking water is important to an employee’s health and wellbeing at a company.||Employees should take their mandated fifteen-minute breaks and should be reminded to take water breaks in between their shifts.|
|Exposure to heat and/or cold||In the industry, workers are exposed to heat and cold. It is important to teach your workers about the safety precautions they can take while in these environments or handling objects that are hot or cold.||Communication in the hospitality industry can prevent hazards. Saying things like “behind you, hot item” can prevent burning someone and alert them of your presence.||While working with things like liquid nitrogen or hot plates, it is important to be vocal about having these items. It alerts others around you. It is also important to wear gloves or any other supplies to mitigate any injuries if the substance spills on you.|
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slipping may occur while scrubbing the washroom’s floors and walls or picking up towels in the restroom. Tripping may occur while turning over the bed or from misplaced furniture or the guest’s personal belongings. Employees may fall when tripping over items, and it can lead to injuries. If these injuries are not assessed and treated, they may lead the worker to have long-term problems that may affect their wellbeing. Hazards such as these do not only apply just to housekeeping but most, if not all, jobs in the hospitality industry. Restaurant servers, cooks, and bussers are often exposed to obstacles that may make them trip or fall.
Management should have proper signs on the floor when it is freshly mopped or waxed so workers are aware of slippery floors. Another suggestion is to take regular breaks. Exhausted employees may have less awareness of their surroundings due to being tired, so taking breaks is important.
Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals
Some cleaning products may contain harmful chemicals. Exposure to these chemicals can cause irritation of the eyes or throat, headaches, and other health problems, including cancer.
Colour-coding products that are higher risk due to hazardous chemicals may help fix cross-contamination risk. Wearing protective clothing and gloves is important so the chemicals do not touch the worker’s skin. Proper ventilation is important as well to prevent moisture that allows mold to flourish.
Injuries from Machines and Supplies
Lacerations from mixing machines or knives are common in the hospitality industry. Broken glass is also a common injury source that affects kitchen workers, servers, and bussers. Workers can also hurt themselves with mixers, slicers, and dicers.
Appropriate training for operating machinery, equipment, and supplies is important for teaching workers how to handle the equipment properly. Wearing the appropriate attire is also important in preventing workplace injuries. When new staff is being trained, it is important to keep a close eye and monitor each situation when dealing with dangerous machinery.
In the hospitality industry, a fire can break out at any time. Although fires in the workplace can happen for many reasons, the main causes of fire in hospitality include high flames while cooking, smoking, electrical equipment catching fire, and intentional fires.
When dealing with flames, it is important to know where emergency exits are. If the fire gets out of hand and cannot be easily contained, escaping is the best option. Knowing where the emergency alarms are can help save other lives. Proper training on how to use a fire extinguisher is also important.
Mental Illness or Stress
Working long hours with strenuous physical activity can lead to an employee becoming overly stressed or depressed. The toll may also have long-lasting effects that can lead to mental illnesses and disorders.
Taking and enforcing breaks can make a huge difference to an employee’s workday. Encouraging employees to exercise and be socially active can help boost morale and positivity. Listening to your workers and recognizing their feedback is crucial for their well-being. Employees want to feel like a part of the team and, in doing so, will increase their productivity and satisfaction.
The hospitality industry is known for jobs that require heavy lifting and repetition. Jobs that require strenuous work can lead to musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle strains, tendinitis, and arthritis.
Hotels can use adjustable beds to prevent housekeeping employees from getting musculoskeletal disorders. These beds can be raised, which means workers do not have to move the bed to clean underneath. Stretching for five minutes every hour may also prevent stiff muscles. If an employee is injured, it is important to give them time to recover and not rush them into heavy lifting too quickly.
Employees may be exposed to electrical hazards such as electric shock, burns, fires, and explosions while working. This could be due to multiple reasons, but some of the more common ones include inadequate wiring resulting in electric shock and burns, fires due to faulty wiring, fires or explosions due to electrical contact with flammable goods, and electrical shock due to outlets having contact with water.
Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is important when dealing with electrical equipment. Non-metal hard hats and rubber gloves should be worn at all times. Making sure equipment and supplies are inspected regularly for cracks, damages, or loose parts is important. If an employee is electrocuted, find the power source and shut it down, and use a non-conducting object to remove the person from the electrical source. It is important to teach your employees safety courses and precautions to handle these types of situations.
Cuts, Scalds, and Burns
Workplace equipment and machines can expose an employee to receiving cuts, scalds, and burns. Electrical hazards and harmful cleaning chemicals can cause scalds and burns. Improper handling of equipment can lead to an employee being cut.
Monitoring equipment to make sure it is in good condition and working properly is crucial to prevent employees from being cut. Throwing away hazardous materials is also important to minimize workplace hazards. Teaching your employees to be alert and not to rush is also important. This helps the employees assess better when dealing with situations to minimize injuries and harm.
Working is tiring especially when in a very hands-on type of job in the hospitality industry. Fatigue leads to being less alert, less productive, and forgetful which can lead the worker to get injured.
Taking breaks and vacation is important for the well-being of your employees. If you have noticed an employee has not taken time off in a while, gentle reminders to take a day off every now and then will not only mitigate the worker’s fatigue levels but will also boost morale. This can also create a better relationship between the employer and employee.
Exposure to Heat or Cold
Workers that are exposed to extreme temperatures can be exposed to significant health and safety hazards. They can be exposed to heat-related or cold-related illnesses. Some of these can include heat stroke, hypothermia, burns from contacting cold or hot items, and heat exhaustion.
Teaching your employees about recognizing the symptoms of heat and cold related illnesses can help minimize long-term effects. Water breaks are equally important as it is important for those working in extreme temperatures to be hydrated. If your employees are working in the sun frequently, management should remind the workers to wear sunscreen, wear protective clothes and glasses, and take breaks in the shade. If your employees are working in an extremely cold environment, wearing layers of clothing, taking breaks in a warmer area, and pacing their workload is important.
Good Practices to Keep Your Workers Safe
At the end of the day, proper training will teach your employees to deal with and handle situations accordingly. It is essential to build a good foundation in the beginning through training. If your team has a detailed training plan, it can help your company reduce risk and improve employee safety. Training does not have to be a one-time thing and can be scheduled every six months or annually. This helps refresh employees on things they may have forgotten or not practiced in a while. It is also vital to update training as new technologies or practices are introduced. This not only helps keep things new and interesting but also more efficient.
Safety Measure Idea: Panic Button and Evacuation Plan
Employees should feel safe at work. Regardless of the hazard, staff may need to act quickly and effectively to avoid getting injured while also not compromising the safety of the guests. Panic buttons can be worn on the body that provides an alert notification to request help from staff members. This is not the same as calling the Bobbies (police) or ambulance and can be used in situations where the employee has fallen and needs help getting up or if they are in a frightening situation and need someone to talk to. If there is a life-threatening emergency like a workplace attack, it is important that your employees know to call the Bobbies.
Safety Measure Idea: Know How to Use Equipment and Wear the Right Clothing
Dressing properly may help employees avoid situations that can pose injuries or harm. Non-slip shoes are designed for hospitality workers and can prevent slipping and falling on wet, oily, or slick surfaces. Enforcing non-slip shoes can be done by requiring proof of the product description on the shoe. When dealing with electrical, heat, and cold applications, wearing proper gloves and protective eyewear is essential. Management should provide these resources to employees to prevent physical hazards and injuries.
All in all, ensuring safety for your employees is the foundation of a good company. There will always be injuries in the workplace, especially with physically demanding jobs. However, with appropriate training and equipment, employees will be better prepared for situations where they may find themselves at risk of injuries and hazards.
Ultimately, the success of your hospitality business relies heavily on your employees. If they are injured due to a work-related hazard, this can leave you short-handed or having to pay medical expenses. Therefore, it is important to provide thorough and proper training, implement uniforms for safety, and conduct regular fire drills. This can help you minimize the number of work hazards, improving health and safety in the hospitality industry.