According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, 3.3 out of 100 hospitality workers suffered workplace injuries. Preventative measures must be taken to avoid severe injury or damage, as 13 million Americans work in this industry. Adequate workplace safety is becoming a more pressing issue in the industry. Managers and owners are putting more emphasis on the safety of their employees.
Partly, the coronavirus pandemic continues to highlight the importance of having robust safety plans in the workplace. Many new measures have been introduced to assist workers in adapting to the “new norm.” In the end, hospitality has had to adapt much more to the current environment than other industries. Safety at work is essential to ensure businesses continue to thrive.
It is essential first to understand some things. What are the most common workplace injuries? How do they present themselves? Then, we will discuss various industry concerns and common risk factors and how to create safer workplaces.
Be aware of common safety concerns
Although workplace injuries are not always predictable, there are some hazards that hospitality workers face more often than others. These three common causes of damage in the workplace are evident in all hospitality settings.
1. Incorrect manual handling
Hospitality workers will likely be asked to lift heavy items, such as luggage and bulky deliveries. Staff must be taught how to handle awkwardly shaped or heavy items. Employers should also be aware that employees with pre-existing conditions or injuries should not be expected and trained to manage these kinds of tasks.
2. Slips, trips, and falls
Unsurprisingly, most injuries sustained in the hospitality industry are caused by slips, trips, and falls, particularly among wait staff and chefs. To reduce the risk of these types of accidents, this is important to manage walkway hazards, food spillages, wet floors, and other potential hazards. In addition, to reduce slips, trips, and falls, this is important to use appropriate footwear and maintain a clean home. Finally, to reduce the chance of injury, this is important to review work environments for potential hazards.
3. Occupational violence
Because the hospitality industry is social, staff are at high risk for occupational violence. Th includes employees working in bars, restaurants, and hotels at night. There are many ways to reduce the likelihood of workplace violence, but unfortunately, there is no one solution that will prevent all types of violence. Unpredictable occupational violence can be prevented by ensuring that employees can call for help when a situation becomes too dangerous. It is also essential to train staff in incident management.
Some risk factors can play a role in escalating incidents, resulting in more significant injury risks for guests and employees. In addition, combining common concerns with these risk factors can lead to dangerous combinations that could result in injury for all parties.
Risk factors include:
- Young, inexperienced employees
- Overextending employees with their tasks
- Split shifts and long working hours
- Multiple jobs for staff
Inexperienced workers and a lack of supervision are two of the most dangerous risk factors that can lead to injury, particularly when combined with a potentially hazardous situation. Sometimes employees feel the need to impress their bosses, supervisors, and co-workers. It can lead to them attempting physically demanding or dangerous tasks that are beyond their capabilities. This behavior needs to be eliminated, especially with younger employees.
Working long hours is a risk factor. People naturally lose their focus after a tiring day. When combined with other workplace hazards, this loss of concentration or focus can prove fatal. Therefore, employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers do not feel exhausted at the beginning of a shift. It is especially true for staff working in hospitality.
How to create a safe work environment
Employers should aim to reduce the chance of injury at work for employees and their guests. You can put in place different procedures and measures to create a safe environment for everyone in the venue. Employees should not be a danger to themselves or others. It is your responsibility to promote safer work environments by being aware and taking personal responsibility.
Begin the hiring process
Safety at work begins with team member selection. Employers can significantly benefit by including safety-oriented questions in their interviewing process and hiring process. A candidate who is more aware of safety issues should be chosen over those who are not. It will allow you to establish a safety-oriented culture within your company with employees who share these beliefs. People without basic security and safety knowledge may be hired, but they will likely need more extensive training.
Training your employees
Team member training is crucial. All employees need to be trained in safety, whether it is their first job or have years of experience. In addition, every team member should be taught in health and safety procedures and routinely informed of the latest safety practices and techniques–maintenance doesn’t just apply to machines, and ensuring staff is regularly updated on protocols is an ongoing process that should always strive for improvement.
Security measures should be added
Your security personnel should be given priority in your workplace, and all employees should be aware of them. Employees should communicate with security when they are concerned and how to do it diplomatically and calmly. It is essential to ensure safety is easily accessible and reachable.
Wearable panic buttons
Employers in hospitality can use wearable panic buttons to help staff and security deal with unpredictable situations. Employers are required to give these devices to employees during work hours in many states.
The ability to use panic buttons to provide immediate assistance to injured guests and employees can make a big difference in safety and security. They are also helpful in combating antisocial behavior and crime. In addition, staff can use them to discreetly flag problems without being forced to handle these issues alone.
Credentials and policies
Your security staff can play an essential role in making sure guests follow the policies put in place to protect everyone’s health during this pandemic. It is important to remind guests to use masks, disinfect their hands in a firm but friendly manner, and maintain social distancing within your building.
Security can also check the credentials of anyone who visits your venue to work, such as builders and temporary caterers. This security will lock all doors after they are opened to prevent anyone from wandering into your platform. Guests should also be able to move around in the common areas.
Planning and protocols
Last but not least, safety and health are everyone’s responsibility. All staff must be able to identify and respond to any hazards immediately. In addition, the team must be made aware of evacuation plans and displayed around the venue so that guests can see them. If there is a disaster such as a fire, having an effective evacuation plan and knowledgeable staff could mean the difference between life or death.
Revise, update and review
It takes effort and time to instill a culture of safety and health within an organization. However, even with your best efforts, accidents are bound to happen. Unpredictable events, violence, or threatening behavior from guests can’t always be avoided. Employees are at risk of emotional or physical harm in these situations. You can reduce risks for both staff and guests by reviewing and updating your protocols regularly. It will help to create a safer environment.
Disclaimer. The opinions and views expressed in this article are the authors Shalom Lamm.