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10/25/2021

Safety Training: The Role Tech Plays in Keeping Staff Safe

From identifying and mitigating potential risks before they happen to providing better analytics and insight into risks, technology can be a great asset for hospitality risk managers.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, safety for employees and guests was of paramount importance for the hospitality industry. That safety focused mostly on the prevention of the spread of COVID-19. With staff returning to the workplace and more guests visiting hotels, hotels now need to return to addressing the risk and safety procedures that were important prior to the pandemic, such as slips, hazardous chemicals, burns and cuts in addition to COVID-19 safety protocols. Annual safety training can be extremely beneficial. For example, companies that provide at least 20 hours of annual safety training are 68% more likely to have employees follow safety protocols and therefore have fewer accidents to begin with. To learn more about this topic and the role technology plays in efficiently and adequately providing this safety training, HT spoke with David Wald, CEO and co-founder of Aclaimant.

 

What are some common hotel or restaurant workplace accidents among staff members? 

Common hotel and restaurant workplace accidents that occur among staff members include slips, trips, and falls that can be caused by food spills or wet floors. Blocked hallways, heavy lifting, hazardous chemicals, burns, and cuts from sharp objects are also common. Occupational violence, such as dealing with an aggressive customer, long working days, and exhaustion are also significant risk factors facing hospitality workers.

 

On average, how many hours of annual workplace safety training do most hotels/restaurants provide to staff? Is this enough?

The average number of training hours provided annually per employee increased from 42.2 in 2017 to 102.6 in 2020. Even though opportunities for ongoing employee development are on the rise, hotel and restaurant workers just like employees almost anywhere these days would consider quitting if they weren’t given ample opportunities for ongoing skills training. While successfully onboarding new employees is important, providing hands-on training from managers, shadowing opportunities with senior employees or even external courses throughout the entirety of the employee lifecycle is critical to both recruiting and retaining talent in this tight labor market. 

 

How is this training often accomplished and is it effective? (In-person? Webinars? Worksheets? Video Tutorials?)

Many businesses in the hospitality industry had to get creative at the onset of the pandemic when onboarding and training newer talent by adopting online and blended learning practices. One of the most effective ways to train a new employee is through observing and helping other employees. This on-the-job training allows the more junior employees to observe and assist the more seasoned employee, learning along the way. Employees can also participate in training videos or reading materials to supplement this hands-on training.  Providing employee technologies to train and continuously improve has also been a best practice we’ve seen work effectively.

 

What role does technology play in efficiently and adequately providing this safety training?

The latest safety technologies already have a built-in training and education element included in the platform, which equips employees with the knowledge to use this tech effectively and efficiently. Risk management technologies can guide even the most inexperienced employee through common workplace exposures and equipment hazards, conduct automated hazard level scoring, and transmit results to key stakeholders. Once an incident or accident is reported, management can then track remediation and make sure the employee returns to work safely. Making sure employees at all levels can properly use risk management and safety tools leads to better outcomes, improved documentation and collaboration, and enhanced accountability for the entire organization – and it starts with training them to use these tools effectively.

 

How can risk managers use technology to identify and mitigate potential risks before they happen?

Risk managers can use technology to identify and mitigate potential risks before they happen. Using risk management platforms with workflow tools can offer much-needed efficiencies and new ways to identify risk and socialize risk management throughout the organization. Technology can be used to digitize current paper survey forms that are specific to the organization as well as using tablets and smartphones to identify, track and mitigate risks. When incidents or accidents do occur, technology enables tasks to be auto-assigned to the appropriate team member to track remediation and completion and hold all individuals involved accountable. Using technology will provide better analytics and insight into risks associated with businesses as well as support an effective risk mitigation strategy.  Better, faster, and clearer access to data, enhanced by direct connectivity to field, stores, restaurants, warehouses, or sites can be one of the quickest ways to get instant leverage in any risk management organization.

 

What do you think of OSHA's Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on COVID-19 Vaccination mandate for private businesses with more than 100 employees, and the impact that could have on hospitality workers?

As OSHA addresses a potential vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees, businesses must determine how to best comply and effectively track vaccination status as well as COVID-19 cases and exposures to ensure compliance. Tracking the vaccination status of employees now will give companies a head start and make it easier when OSHA’s emergency temporary standard (ETS) is official. This includes understanding what information, what processes, what systems, and what approach each business does or doesn’t want to take, including taking into consideration what each company's counsel’s guidance is on these items.

 

Beyond putting processes and procedures in place to track vaccination status, companies should be aware of how responding to this mandate will make or break employees' trust in their companies. This can include consideration around approaches like employee vaccination incentive programs, communication around tracking with employees and employee groups, handling exception requests, etc. Companies may also need to begin to establish or adopt their own policy specific to their company while we await OSHA’s guidance, and be ready to adjust when the guidance is finalized.