Hotels and accommodation services

People working in hotels and the wider accommodation sector can be exposed to multiple health and safety risks on a daily basis, including injuries from lifting and carrying, slips and trips, vehicle movements, and exposure to germs and infections.

What are the risks?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), every business has a responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, and that others are not put at risk by the work of the business (for example, customers, visitors, children and young people, or the general public).

First, you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

The following are examples of only some of the health and safety risks for people in the hospitality sector. We also provide general guidance on how to manage your work health and safety risks.

Lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling heavy loads can put workers at risk of serious injury.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers are at risk of injury from lifting and carrying particularly when:

  • a load is too heavy, it’s difficult to grasp, or it’s too large
  • the physical effort is too strenuous
  • they are required to bend and twist when handling heavy loads.

When a person reaches for items above shoulder height, their back becomes arched and their arms act as long levers. This makes the load difficult to control and significantly increases the risk of injury.

Injuries and conditions can include:

  • muscle sprains and strains
  • injuries to muscles, ligaments, intervertebral discs and other structures in the back
  • injuries to soft tissues such as nerves, ligaments and tendons in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or legs
  • abdominal hernias
  • chronic pain.

Some of these conditions are known as repetitive strain injury (RSI), occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) and work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WRMSD).

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Use mechanical lifting aids or lifting equipment (for example, height adjustable trolleys) and ensure they are used properly and maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications.
  • Ensure building layout/design limits the need to push, pull or carry equipment or loads (for example, good path design, floor surfaces, service lifts).
  • Position shelving and racking in storage areas at accessible heights.
  • Ensure workers are not exposed to repetitive or high impact work for long periods of time. Consider job sharing or job rotation.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Clutter around reception areas, hallways or stairs, as well as uneven floor surfaces and poor lighting, can put workers and guests at risk of slip, trip or fall injuries.

How are workers and others harmed?

When someone falls as a result of a slip or trip, the injury can range from minor (bruises and scrapes) to more serious, including broken bones or head trauma. The severity of the injury will depend on the circumstances.

Examples of how injuries can be caused include:

  • uneven floor areas
  • poorly maintained floor surfaces
  • slippery floors from water or other liquids
  • cluttered or poorly lit work areas or passages
  • no aids or inappropriate aids to reach objects stored above the ground (for example, standing on chairs to reach objects)
  • poor lighting (for example, when getting in or out of vehicles)
  • wearing footwear that does not match the environmental conditions.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Ensure floor and ground surfaces are well maintained (for example, damaged carpets, mats, tiles or vinyl).
  • Install slip-resistant surfaces.
  • Keep outdoor surfaces free of debris and remove moss or slime.
  • Improve lighting in poorly lit areas.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Clean floors outside common working hours. If not practical, introduce a system so people do not walk on surfaces until they are dry.
  • Use suitable routes, entry and exit points, and parking and activity areas.
  • Use torches and backup batteries for night services in external locations.
  • Ensure workers wear appropriate anti-slip footwear.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Soiled laundry and general housekeeping rubbish carry a risk of germs, infections and infestation.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers and guests can become ill through infections such as skin infections (including scalp, face and neck) and blood infections.

Bacterial viruses that can cause potentially serious infections may be transmitted if appropriate precautions are not taken, for example where:

  • sheeting or towelling is not cleaned /sanitised properly
  • proper worker hygiene is not observed; and
  • structural facilities, furnishings and fittings of the premises are not kept clean and in good repair.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

Apart from general hygienic practices, your business should adopt basic infection control measures. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Have an infection control plan.
  • Provide clean hand washing facilities.
  • Offer waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizers when regular facilities are not available.
  • Clean surfaces at least daily
  • Frequently touched area such as escalator handrails, elevator control panels or door knobs should be cleaned more often subject to the frequency of use.
  • Regular pest control should be carried out.
  • Undertake worker health monitoring.
  • Making sure ventilation systems are working properly.
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and face masks where necessary.

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Moving vehicles are risky – a good traffic management plan keeps everyone safer.

How are workers and others affected?

People could be harmed by:

  • being trapped between a vehicle and a structure
  • vehicles colliding with each other or a structure
  • being hit by a vehicle
  • items that fall off vehicles (unsecured or unstable loads)
  • falling from a vehicle.
  • other things to take into account include:
  • drivers/operators/pedestrians affected by drugs, alcohol or fatigue (extreme tiredness.)
  • drivers/operators/pedestrians affected by medical events (for example, heart attacks).
  • environmental conditions (slippery or unstable ground, low light, fog).
  • mechanical failure (for example, faulty steering or bad brakes).
  • driver distractions (for example, cell-phones, noise, work pressures, home pressures).
  • vehicles operated outside their limits or capabilities – the wrong vehicle for the job.
  • anything that might block the drivers’ view.

When a person is hit by a truck or other vehicle or equipment, or a vehicle or equipment hits something else, the consequences can be severe for the person and for the business. For example:

  • The person may suffer crush injuries or fractures, or die.
  • A business may have to deal with property damage, reputational damage, service disruption, and increased insurance costs.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Isolate vehicles and plant from people working on the site.
  • Ensure reversing warning devices (for example, sounds or lights) are working.
  • Turn on hazard lights if the vehicle is a temporary hazard.
  • Use spotters or dedicated traffic controllers to manage traffic and pedestrian movements.
  • Provide adequate lighting on site so drivers, workers and others can see what they are doing and can also be seen by others.
  • Encourage drivers visiting a site for the first time to walk the route and plan how they will move their vehicle around the site.
  • To minimise driver fatigue, manage when and how long drivers work.
  • Collaborate with other businesses on site to coordinate vehicle movements.
  • Where you can, have a one-way system to reduce the need for vehicles to reverse on site.
  • Provide warning signs at all entrances and exits to the site.
  • Ensure workers wear high visibility clothing.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Violence can take many forms – ranging from physical assault and verbal abuse to intimidation and low-level threatening behaviour. Violence or threats of violence in the workplace are never acceptable.

How are workers and others affected?

Violence in the workplace can include attempted or actual physical assault, verbal abuse, intimidation, and low-level threatening behaviour.

Violence or threats of violence can come from customers, co-workers or even a worker’s family members or acquaintances.

Lone workers can be at greater risk.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

Here are some examples of things you can consider:

  • workplace layout (for example, a workplace layout must, so far as is reasonably practicable, allow people to enter, exit and move about without risks to health and safety – both under normal working conditions and in an emergency)
  • workplace policies and procedures (for example, how to deal with customers including what unacceptable behaviour is and what to do about it)
  • what to do in an emergency, (for example, you must also provide adequate first aid equipment/facilities and access to first aiders)
  • training (for example, you must provide your workers with the training/supervision they need to work safely, such as procedures for working safely)
  • other security measures:
    • Panic buttons/duress alarms to seek help and alert other workers to potential danger.
    • CCTV with warning signs.
    • Signs that set out clear expectations of the behaviour of customers (for example, no bad language, no verbal abuse, no physical intimidation) and the consequences of bad behaviour.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation. You should also have effective ways to investigate and deal with violence when it does occur.

For more information, see violence at work.

 

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