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Health and Safety at Work in Accommodation Businesses

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is the defining piece of legislation that enshrines corporate responsibility to employees while they're at work. It requires businesses of all sizes to take reasonable measures to eliminate risks and ensure employee safety. While the uniqueness of each business often makes a one-size-fits-all approach impossible, here are some key things to consider when you're designing a health and safety plan for your motel.

Staff Training

To minimise the risk of injury, all staff members must be trained, and their training must be regularly updated. Records should be kept of each training programme as evidence that the training has taken place, and employees should sign off on each element of training they complete, with a countersignature from the trainer. Don't forget to keep backup copies of all records.

Lifting and Carrying

Working in a motel often requires a lot of lifting and carrying, and injuries can result when workers try to lift items that are too large and heavy or those that require twisting or turning. These activities put extra pressure on the spine and the musculoskeletal system surrounding it, which can result in slipped discs, torn muscles and general pain. More serious injuries include abdominal hernias and damage to tendons in the wrist, arms, neck, shoulders or legs.

It's thus important to train staff in how to safely lift items. This should be one of the first things employees are taught—straight after the fire tour.

Slips, Trips and Falls

Slips, trips and falls are among the biggest reasons for losses relating to lawsuits, and it's not only employees who can suffer—your customers are also vulnerable. While you can't train customers to avoid scenarios in which falls can happen, you can reduce the likelihood of accidents by training staff to use appropriate signage and to ensure that customer-facing areas have slip-resistant floor coverings.

In addition, abrupt changes in floor level should be clearly marked, and poor lighting needs to be remedied so that everyone can see where they're going.

When it comes to work practices, staff should use the right equipment for the job. If staff members must work at height, such as when replacing light bulbs and cleaning windows or ceilings, they should be trained on these tasks, and the availability of appropriate and safe ladders is essential.

Germs and Infection

Infection-causing germs can quickly spread, and a motel or hotel that fails to control the risk of infection can quickly find itself in the midst of a reputation-damaging outbreak. Often, infection is spread by poor hygiene, so both staff and customers need to be protected.

Infectious diseases need to be carefully managed. A staff member who is sick with an airborne or contact infectious agent should not be working because that person can potentially transfer the infection to a customer.

Regular washbasins should be supplied, and surfaces cleaned regularly. It's also a good idea to get air conditioning systems checked yearly, or anytime there is an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the local area.

It can be easy to accidentally cross-contaminate food, so all employees who handle food should have appropriate training. In some cases, you may have to comply with a food control plan, depending on how your business works. In all instances, the rules of food safety must be followed, and employees who handle food should go on an accredited program.

Other Safety Risks

Vehicle movements present a particular risk for employees, although in most cases, moving-vehicle hazards primarily involve delivery trucks and customer vehicles. Appropriate personal protective equipment, such as fluorescent jackets and steel-toe-capped boots should be provided and worn.

Electricals also post safety risks and should be tested every six months. In addition, staff should be trained to check for damage to electricals and immediately remove items deemed potentially unsafe.

Safety is about eliminating risks where possible and managing those that naturally occur. As a business owner, your responsibility is to ensure that both patrons and employees are safe as far as reasonably practical.


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