Safety and Security

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Safety and SecuritySafety and security are two responsibilities of hotel managers. Guests expect to sleep, meet, dine, and entertain in a facility that is safe and secure…
Safety and SecuritySafety and security are two responsibilities of hotel managers. Guests expect to sleep, meet, dine, and entertain in a facility that is safe and secure – and are entitled to reasonable care under law. Housekeeping personnel can help meet this guest expectation and, in some cases, make the difference in the property’s safety and security system.SafetyA term that pertains to discussing disaster preparedness, fire prevention and protection, protection devices, and conditions that provide for freedom from injury and damage to property.The two hotel departments most likely to have the largest number of accidents and injuries are maintenance and housekeeping.One basis for this frequency is the sheer labor-intensity of these two departments.In many operations, housekeeping and maintenance employ more people than any other department.Another reason lies in the fact that working in housekeeping or maintenance involves physical activities and equipment use – both of which increase the risks of accident and injury. To reduce safety risks, the executive housekeeper must be aware of potential safety hazards and develop procedures to prevent accidents. Safety should be a top priority. Ongoing safety training programs help ensures that safe conditions are maintained in all work areas.To develop programs, management must be aware of the laws that regulate the work environment – and more specifically, how those laws affect housekeeping personnel.Employee Morale and Management ConcernsUnsafe working conditions have a negative effect on employee morale. If employees are preoccupied with hazardous conditions in the work place, they will not be able to perform the best of their ability.For most part, it is difficult to motivate employees until unsafe conditions are corrected.One of management’s top concerns should be for the health and welfare of employees.Employees are one of the most important assets a hotel has. If managers want employees to provide quality service, they must treat employees fairly and with respect. Respect for an employee’s right to work in a safe and hazard free environment is a good place to begin. Potentially Hazardous ConditionsAccidents and injuries do not have to occur. By following three simple rules, employees can contribute to a safe, accident-free work environment:
  • Take adequate time
  • Correct unsafe conditions immediately
  • Do it safely the first time
  • LiftingHousekeeping tasks often involve lifting heavy objects. Employees may also be required to move furniture in order to complete a thorough cleaning task.Incorrectly lifting heavy objects such as bags, boxes, and containers may result in strained or pulled muscles and back injury.In turn, these injuries can result in loss of work and long-term pain and suffering. Employees can also incur cuts and scratches when lifting items such as trash or dirty linens which contain pointy objects or broken glasses. In all instances, employees should know what conditions to look for and the special precautions to take. Some guidelines for safe moving and lifting:
  • Inspect the object before lifting. Do not lift any item that you cannot get your arms around or that you cannot see over when carrying. Get help if it is too heavy.
  • Look for any protrusions, especially when lifting trash or bundles of linen. Quite often, these items contain pointy objects or broken glass. Exercise special care to avoid injury.
  • When lifting, place one foot near the object and the other slightly back and apart. Keep well balanced.
  • Keep the back and head of your body straight. Because the back muscles are generally weaker than the leg muscles, do not use the back muscle to lift the object.
  • Bend slightly at the knees and hips but do not stoop.
  • Use both hands and grasp the objects using the entire hand.
  • Lift with the leg muscles.
  • Keep the object close to the body. Avoid twisting your body.
  • When setting an object down, do not use your back muscles. Use the leg muscles and follow the procedures used to lift objects.
  • When tucking in sheets, picking up a laundry or cleaning a tub, bend with the knee and not on the back, nor on the waist to prevent back injury.
  • Use your body weight in pushing and pulling the vacuum, not just your arms and shoulder. To avoid slipping and tripping, hold the cord and coil as you go.
  • Wear the right shoes. Working shoes should be slip resistant, with a closed toe and fit to give you the best comfort.
  • Watch where you are going to prevent slips and fall.
  • Use door stopper and not linens or objects that could cause a slip or fall.
  • Turn on lights and look all sides before entering any room. There may be spills or broken glasses on the floor that need to be cleared.
  • If a broken glass is found, sweep the floor and place the glass in a container separate from the trash.
  • To push the room attendant’s cart easily, check if it has sticking wheels. Without it, it will be harder to push and could injure the user. Remove sticking thread on the wheels.
  • Be careful with loose screw or sharp edges as they could catch on one’s clothing and cause cuts.
  • When pushing the cart, lean forward into the cart, rely on one’s legs and feel not unto one’s back or across the body.
  • Keep the cart close, use feet and legs and not arms and shoulders.
  • In case a cart falls down, do not try to stop or stand it up by alone. It is heavier than you think and can cause accidents. Ask for help.
  • Do not overload laundry cart to make it easier to pull.
  • When reaching for something, especially in the tub, never stand on the edge of a toilet bowl. You might loose your balance and fall.
  • LaddersLadders can be used when cleaning areas on or near the ceiling or for such tasks as changing light bulbs. When selecting a ladder for a particular cleaning job, its condition, height and footing should be inspected. Check the ladder for stability and examine crosspieces for sturdiness. If the ladder is broken or defective, do not use it. Rather, tag the ladder, place it out of service, and report it to the appropriate housekeeping supervisor or the maintenance departmentAn aluminum or metal ladder should never be used when working near or on electrical equipment. Ladders with rubber footings should be used on tile floors or in kitchen areas to prevent slipping. In all instances, the floor should be dry and clean.A ladder must be high enough so that an attendant can stand on it and do the job without overreaching. Never stand on the top step of a ladder. If the area cannot be reached while standing on the step below the top step, the ladder is too short for he job. Ladders should be placed so footing is at least one fourth of the ladder length away from the wall. Never place a ladder against window or an uneven surface.Before climbing, test the ladder for stability; it should be well balanced and secure against the wall and floor.Always be sure to face a ladder when climbing and have a clean and dry hands and feet . Do not hold any items or tools that may prevent the use of one or both hands. Mark the area underneath the ladder with caution signs so that guests or employees do not walk under the ladder. MachineryEmployees should be authorized and trained in the use of machinery and equipment before operating such devices. Most equipment, machineries, and power tools come with instructions.Some employees may need additional training and supervised practice before operating equipment and machinery on the job by themselves.Many power tools and other machineries are equipped with protective guards or shields. These safety guards should never be removed.Employees may also be required to wear protective eye goggles or gloves. All protective gear should be worn per instructions.Equipment and machineries should never be left unattended while in use. When not in use, all tools and equipment should be turned off and stored in the proper place. Never use a piece of equipment or machinery that is not operating correctly. Contact the appropriate supervisor or the maintenance department to have it repaired as soon as possible. Electrical EquipmentExtra care must be taken when operating electrical equipment. Even one of the most common housekeeping appliances like a vacuum cleaner can be harmful or deadly if operated improperly or in unsafe conditions.An employee should never operate electrical equipment when standing in water or when hands or clothing are wet. It is also unsafe to operate electrical equipment near flammable liquids, chemicals, or vapors. Sparks from electrical equipment could start a fire.Equipment that sparks, smokes, or flames should be turned off immediately. If it is possible and safe to do so, the equipment should be unplugged. In no instance should an attendant attempt to restart the equipment. The malfunction should be reported to the appropriate housekeeping supervisor or the maintenance department.Equipment wires and connections should be checked periodically. Equipment with loose connections or exposed wires should not be used. An appliance should never be unplugged by pulling or yanking the cord. This will loosen the connection between the cord and the plug and cause sparks and shorts. Equipments should be unplugged by grasping the plug and pulling it gently away from the outlet.When using electrical equipment, the cord should be kept out of traffic areas such as the center of hallways or cross doorways. This is not always possible, particularly with such tasks as vacuuming corridors. In such situations, keep the cord close to the wall and post caution signs in the work area. If the appliance will be stationary and in use for a lengthy period, tape the cord to the floor and place caution signs over the taped cord.Extension cords are sometimes required – particularly when an electric outlet is not located near the work areas. Extension cords should be inspected for exposed wire before use just like any other electrical cord. There are many types of extension cords; not all are acceptable for use in a hospitality operation. The local fire department can pinpoint which types of cords meet the local fire codes and regulations.When cleaning guestrooms, room attendants should check electric lamps, appliances, and other fixtures for frayed wires, loose connections and loose plugs. Exposed electrical wire may result in shock, injury, or even death when touched. Outlet and switch covers should be checked to ensure that they are covered properly and not cracked or broken. If any of these conditions are found, the room attendant should not attempt to fix them, rather, potential problems should be reported to the appropriate housekeeping supervisor or to the maintenance. ChemicalsMany housekeeping employees are exposed to dangerous chemicals in their daily work routines. These chemicals are powerful cleaners, and, when used properly with proper protective gear, are relatively harmless. However, when used improperly, these same helpful chemicals can cause nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, cancer, blindness, and even death.Chemicals are used to clean all areas of a lodging property including bathrooms, kitchens and floors. Potentially hazardous chemicals are also used to kill insects and rodents. Some housekeeping situations require employees to handle toxic substances to unstop clogs in toilets and other plumbing fixtures. Often the use of such hazardous and toxic chemicals cannot be avoided.Continual training in chemical safety is necessary for two reasons: First, misused chemicals can cause serious injury in a short period. Second, new employees – especially in properties with high employee turnover – need to be trained immediately.Handling Chemicals Safely
  • Read the labels and the material safety data sheet.
  • Wear personal protective equipment like goggles and hand gloves for protection from spills and splashes.
  • To use the chemical correctly, follow the direction of the label.
  • Use only one chemical for its intended purpose.
  • Be sure the correct chemical goes in a properly labeled container when refilling spray bottles.
  • Cap of bottles/ containers should be tight and the broken nozzles must be replaced to prevent drips.
  • Never mix chemicals the result can be potentially deadly like fumes created by mixing bleach with ammonia.
  • Use the right amount of chemicals. Excessive amount may damage surfaces.
  • If a chemical spills, block the surface. A minor spill can be cleaned up. If not sure of how to clean up a spill, ask the supervisor.
  • If a chemical spill blocks your skin, rinse as directed in the material safety data sheet
  • If your eyes are exposed and contaminated by a spill, rinse it with a clean water and get immediate medical assistance.
  • Handle potentially contaminated items as little as possible.
  • Use proper container for disposal of items.
  • Clean contaminated areas.
  • Thoroughly wash hands after using chemicals.
  • SecuritySecurity refers to the freedom from fear, anxiety, and doubt involving ourselves, as well as to the protection and defense against the loss or theft of guest, employee, and company property and prevention of other emergencies.Security CommitteesSecurity committee should consist of key management personnel – including departmental heads. Supervisors and selected hourly employees can also contribute important security information and add to the committee’s effectiveness. Committee Responsibilities:
  • Development of security handbook and the design of training and awareness programs.
  • Monitoring, analyzing, and suggesting solutions for returning security problems.
  • Maintaining records on such incidents as theft, vandalism, and on-site violence.
  • Conducting spot security audits and property inspections.
  • Investigating security incidents.
  • Maintain open lines of communication with the local police department.
  • Theft
  • Guest theft: most hotels assume that guests will take items such as matches, pens, shampoo, ashtrays, and sewing kit. For most part, these items are provided for the guest’s convenience and are actually a form of advertising used by the hotel. However, towels, bathrobes, trash bins, and pictures are not part of the marketing strategy and are not meant to be taken by guests. When these items turn up missing, it can add up to a large expense for a hospitality operation.
  • To reduce the theft of these items, some properties keep count of the number of amenities inside the room. When the guest request for additional item, it is noted at the front desk. The room attendant, too, notes how many items are in the room, when cleaning the next day. The room attendant’s ability to spot missing item may allow the hotel time to charge the guest for items that have been taken.Another strategy, some hotels place items such as towels, bathrobes, and leather stationery folders and the like are on sale in their gift shops. This may reduce the likelihood of theft since guests have the option of purchasing these items. Also, having these items on sale helps set a standard price that can be levied against guests for a missing item. Other helpful ideas to reduce guest theft:
  • Use as few monogrammed items as possible.
  • Keep storage rooms closed and locked
  • Affix or bolt guestroom items and fixtures to appropriate surfaces.
  • Secure windows.
  • Employee theft: it is up to the management to set the standards for reducing employee theft – and to act as a good example. A manager who takes hotel steaks home to barbeque will not be effective when asking employees not to steal food, linen, and other hotel property. Management should also detail explicit rules and regulations concerning employee theft. The employee handbook should spell out the consequences of stealing hotel property. Managers should screen applicants before making a job offer. A through background check should be conducted, including a check for any criminal convictions. Before asking any questions or making inquiries, check local laws to ensure that the selected screening techniques are not illegal or prohibited.Good inventory control procedures can also help control theft. Detailed records that note any unusual, or unexplained fluctuations should be kept of all items in stock.It is a good practice to conduct a monthly inventory of all housekeeping supplies including toilet paper, amenities, and linens. If the items in storage do not match the usage rate, or if too little stock is on the shelve, it may be an indication of employee theft. Employees should be aware of the results of monthly inventories – especially when shortages are discovered.In addition to keeping records of items in stock, records should be kept of stolen or missing items- including those from guestrooms. The record should include the name of the room attendant and any other hotel employees who had access to the room. Keep all storeroom doors locked. Storerooms should be equipped with automatic closing and locking devices. Locks on storerooms should be changed periodically to reduce the opportunity of theft.Management should designate employee entrances and exits. These entrances should be well-lighted, adequately secured, and provided with round-the-clock security. Employee entrance may include a security staff office which monitors arriving and departing employees.Employees should know what items they may bring onto or remove from the property. Management may establish a claim-checking system for bringing items onto the premises and a parcel-pass system for taking items off the premises. If an employee has permission to remove hotel property, he/she should be issued a signed permit from the supervisor or an appropriate manager before doing so.Restricting employee parking to a carefully selected area can also help control losses. Keeping the area well-lighted reduces the temptation to steal and also makes the lot safer for employees who leave work after dark. The employee parking area should not be so close to the building that it allows employees to easily and quickly transfer stolen property to their cars. If the hotel is large or has a very high turnover rate, employee are less likely to know their fellow workers. In such cases, identification badges may be required to prevent strangers who pose as employees to gain admittance to the property. Bomb TreatsHousekeeping procedures for handling bomb treats should be part of the property’s security manual. Housekeeping’s role usually consists of helping in the search for any suspicious objects that could be bombs.Where and how the search is conducted will depend on the way the property received the bomb threat. Information from the caller or letter may give clues on where personnel should search and on what type of bomb or object to look for. Searches often include stairways, closets, ashtrays, trash containers, elevators, exit areas, and window sills. It may be helpful to take a flashlight to inspect areas with little light.Search team employees look for objects that are normally not found in an area. Housekeeping personnel have an advantage since their daily routines promote familiarity with many hotel areas. If a suspicious looking object is found, it should not be touched or moved; notify the person in charge of the search team or an appropriate supervisor immediately. Notification is best done face-to-face or over the telephone. Avoid using radios, walkie- talkies, or beepers. Some bomb devices are sensitive to these sound waves and may go off.If nothing is found after completing the search, all teams should regroup in a designated area. An all-clear sign should be given after all search procedures have been performed and management is satisfied that the guests, employees, and property are not under by real
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