Occupational Health and Safety in the Tourism Industry
A successful hotel and resort manages a continuous flow of guests arriving and departing on a daily basis. Whilst all guests hopefully enjoyed a fabulous holiday with the expectation to be taken care of in an exceptional service surrounding and without any injuries or accidents, the business also has the responsibility to ensure that employees are able to carryout their duties in a safe manner.
Over the past two years, the consequences of COVID and the implementation of enhanced hygiene measurements and pre-cautions have been particularly sturdy on the tourism industry. All hotels and resorts were facing similar challenges while preparing for re-opening their business and handling a steadily growing flow of guests, in particular during the recent festive period and peak season that is still continuing during the upcoming weeks and months. There is no doubt, that all businesses have spent a considerable amount of time to assess their daily operation in order to implement enhanced safety and hygiene measures that are meeting local and international guidelines. However, simultaneously it is crucial not to overlook other common safety hazards and to manage the common everyday health and safety risks of their employees and guests. Controlling these hazards through occupational health and safety measures is part of working within the tourism industry. These conditions and factors affect the well-being of everyone in the work place and also include promoting the improvement of working conditions and other aspects of environmental hygiene.
A hotel or resort operation is usually very busy plus hectic and often tasks have to be carried out in a hurry, particularly when having a high occupancy. When employees are under pressure and rushed, mistakes can all too easily happen, things can be overlooked and ultimately may lead to accidents. There are some very common safety hazards for those that work in the tourism industry which we will take a closer look on in the following.
Categories of Hazards
- Physical – any object that can cause harm or injury to a person; vey common accidents such as slips, trips, falls are the result of this hazard.
- Chemical – caused by frequent exposure to chemicals in the workplace; harmful when it enters our body through skin absorption, inhalation, or ingestion.
- Biological – substance that possesses as a threat to the health of any individual; infective and parasitic agents such as virus, bacteria, fungi or mold, body fluids, biological wastes.
- Mechanical – created as a result of either powered or manual use of tools, equipment, or machinery.
- Psychosocial – arise from stress due to heavy workloads, lack of adequate supplies, the employees’ failure to adapt to an unfamiliar psychosocial environment, i.e., family or financial problems, COVID-19 restrictions, job insecurity or frustration, etc.
Proper risk management helps both employers and employees to identify, analyse and avoid or mitigate the above elaborated common hazards. A simple plan to conduct a risk assessment of a business is aligning with the following steps:
- Identification of all possible hazards.
- Decision of which employees and team members may be harmed.
- Evaluation of risk and calculation of necessary precautions.
- Elaboration of findings and implementation of an action plan.
- Regular review and follow-up assessments.
A risk assessment is done while carrying out a detailed and thorough review of the business and premises in an effort to identify those areas and operations that could lead to causing serious harm to an employee. After identification of all possible hazards, the business should identify if appropriate steps are taken to ensure the chances of an injury are minimized or whether extra steps to help prevent an accident are required. A major part of risk assessment is associated to team member training, and to make sure that all employees know their tasks and how to execute them, whilst procedures are put in to place to keep everyone safe. Trained employees are having a higher capability to carryout tasks safely and efficiently. Even the simplest of tasks should be explained entirely to all team members and training logs should be kept. In the event of an insurance claim, it is common for insurance companies to ask for a proof that the employees were trained (due diligence of the business owner) to do what they were doing at the time the incident occurred and for the business to demonstrate that appropriate legislation is addressed and acted upon.
The Role of Training
Proactive occupational health and safety measures and regular risk assessment are important as they built the foundation of good habits and will help ensure that employees are able to carry out their job functions safely, even during busier times. The best way to support team members and to meet legal obligations is to provide engaging workplace health and safety plus wellbeing training. NSURE offers a range of suitable training courses that include the education of employees on safety protocols and procedures that create a safer and healthy work environment. Additional benefits of regular training include reduced risks, injuries, loss, and costs. Moreover, increased consistency in quality of work and productivity and lastly also greater employee satisfaction which leads to overall retention.