10 Safety Mistakes Hotel Managers MakeAnd How to Avoid Them. By: Diana S. Barber, Esq., July 2004 Every hotel and motel manager makes mistakes; that’s just part of being human. All mistakes are costly; but some have a greater financial impact than others do. The following list cites potentially costly security gaps most hoteliers are not aware of or haven’t focused on - and should. 1. Never cut back on security personnel. In these times of cost containment and budget controls, security is the one area of your budget that should never be cut. The financial impact of reducing or eliminating your security staff would be tremendous should a guest or employee be injured or damage to property occur. In addition, eliminating or reducing security personnel sends the wrong message to staff members, namely that their safety is not of the highest importance to your business and that you are not watching them as closely. 2. Have an evacuation route posted in your meeting room space. Meeting rooms serve as gathering places for large groups of people who will most likely panic in the event of an emergency such as a hurricane, earthquake, bomb threat and so on. In the event of a crisis, will your group function attendees know where to go and what to do? Have evacuation routes posted in meeting rooms for group attendees to see, and ask your sales and catering personnel to have detailed discussions with the meeting planners about evacuation procedures. 3. Increase lighting throughout your property. Look for physical areas on or around the property that do not have adequate lighting or are not secure, and address these issues immediately. Check your parking lots for areas where lighting needs improvement. Ask your local law enforcement agency to do a security audit on your property. Don’t wait until someone falls or is injured to protect your guests, employees and your business. 4. Continuously train employees. When it rains or snows and a guest slips and falls on your property, do your employees know the proper steps to take to protect the injured guest, not to make casual comments admitting liability and how to handle the situation? Who is responsible for their training? Make it your objective to ensure that your employees receive adequate training on procedures for handling guest injuries. Initial training and continuous ongoing training are critical. One hour of training is not enough. Keep detailed records of the procedures and training which can be used in your efforts
to convince a litigious opposing party, and a judge, ofyour due diligence in safety training.5. Comply with Occupational Safety and HealthAdministration standards. Make sure all OSHArequirements and standards are met. If you are not surethat you have all the latest information, take an updatedcourse on compliance efforts. The Internet has manyresources for OSHA compliance courses available forhotels and motels. Visually inspect to see that allnecessary notices and posters are current and displayedappropriately, and not stuck behind other notices on thebulletin board.6. Keep back-up data off property. Keep a copy of allproperty operations data stored off-site in a safe andsecure location. Do not rely on someone’s personalcomputer to house your employment, financial and guestdata. It is imperative to have access to guest records at alltimes - especially in the event of an emergency.7. Install phones in fitness centers. All exercise orfitness rooms need to have a phone available to all gueststhat will dial immediately to the front desk. A securitycamera should also be installed so that injuries andproblems that occur within the fitness facility can beimmediately detected and addressed. If security camerasare used, written procedures for their use must be inplace. Also: Are the cameras staffed with trainedprofessionals viewing the scene? How often is thevideotape reused? Are the cameras in good working orderor are they simply mounted as a decoy to provide a falsesense of security to guests and employees?8. Perform background checks on employees beforehiring. All managers, front desk personnel and securityofficers must have their background history checked toeliminate or minimize any unknown and undesirablediscoveries once employed. An Internet search can assistin accomplishing this task very quickly. Check drivingrecords on employees hired to transfer guests to and fromthe airport or surrounding areas. Select the bestemployees now and avoid future trouble.9. Check detection devices regularly. Are sprinklersystems and smoke detectors working and in place, on allfloors, in guestrooms and in all public spaces? Is anemergency lighting system in place along with anemergency generator? When was the last time you hadthese items checked? What is your back up plan if thesedevices should fail? All such items need to be tested andcertified on a monthly basis and the inspections need to beproperly documented in writing.10. Check on emergency equipmentperiodically. Does your property have automatic external
defibrillators and oxygen tanks on site and are they inworking order? Have employees been trained to use thesedevices? Make sure you conduct monthly inspections onthese types of equipment, and have at least one CPR-trained employee on staff at all times.These are but a few of the safety precautions beingoverlooked by many hotel and motels around the country.Preventative measures are always preferred over litigationstrategies. Your guests and employees expect and want aninjury-free experience and work environment.Implementing these steps, and reviewing them on acontinuous basis, will go a long way in protecting yourbusiness.Diana S. Barber, Esq. is the founder of LodgeLaw, ADivision of Barber Law Associates, a law firmspecializing in hospitality law. She also teaches at CecilB. Day Hospitality School at Georgia State University andis a member of Georgia Hospitality & Travel Association.For more information, Ms. Barber can be reached at(770) 813-9363,www.lodge-law.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.