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A guide to getting your hotel OSHA ready

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In October 2019, Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans was issued a fine on account of ‘willful’ and ‘serious’ violations. 11 contractors working on the project were heavily fined for life-threatening violations as the building collapsed due to the negligence of the engineers on site. This is just one of the incidents that has been in the News regarding workplace violation in the hospitality industry in the recent months.

To avoid such scenarios and regulate workplace security across businesses, including the hospitality industry in the US, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was put in place. Its regulations are created with the intention of employee safety, categorised under employee management, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.

Previously, OSHA has come across many such incidents which involve severe as well as minor violations. One such example is the inspection that was conducted at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., resulting in fines of over $76,000 in safety violations. Violations not only result in the payment of fines but also endanger the lives of the staff as they are subjected to harsh chemical substances, electrical and fall hazards, and at times compressed air issues.

As the hospitality industry faces unique challenges, not experienced by other industries, CalOSHA passed a directive effective July 1, 2018 which focused on Hotel Housekeeping and Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention. This standard ensured the prevention of any injuries or illnesses particularly housekeeping musculoskeletal injuries, training employees for this program, and maintaining records among others.

Now that the whole world has entered the New Normal phase, the hospitality industry too must start a fresh chapter. Apart from transforming your properties adhering to the social distancing norms, ensure to also get those ready as per the guidelines issued by OSHA. Today there are software applications in place such as WrkSpot to help you manage these duties.

Guidelines by OSHA to prevent various types of violations

  • General guidelines: OSHA has been put in place for all kinds of businesses including the hotel industry. Some general guidelines that the hospitality industry must adhere to include maintaining passageways for walking and working, storerooms and service rooms- free from debris and any other form of obstructions. They must be clean and dry at all possible times.
  • Reporting and Recordkeeping: Hotels must maintain a system for monitoring job-related injuries and illnesses. It requires that employers use two forms OSHA 300 Log and OSHA 301 Injury Report. Incase of work-related illness or injury, it must be recorded within six days of occurrence in the OSHA 300 Log.
  • De Minimis Violations: A De Minimis Violation does not have a direct impact on health or safety of the employees and is the least form of violation. An example of this violation would be using a ladder with 13 inches instead of the standard 12 inches between the rungs.
  • Serious Violations: A serious violation is when an employer being aware of a situation that is potentially dangerous for causing serious injury or death, finds no solution for the same.
  • Willful violations: This is perhaps the most serious form of violation since it is done intentionally by the employer. This shows disregard for employee health and safety.
  • Repeated Violation: When an employer is cited for a particular violation and is found repeating it, OSHA cites the employer of the property with a repeated violation penalty.
  • Failure to clear prior Violation: At times, even after the employer is handed a violation citation, one may not find a solution to the same. In such cases, OSHA penalizes them further because the citation comes with an expiry date by when the solution should have been implemented.

Each of these violations have a fine attached depending on the gravity of the situation. However, such violations display the management of the hotel in a bad light to its stakeholders and customers resulting in the rise in guest complaints.

Remedies to be OSHA ready
Most businesses are turning towards technology to solve a bundle of their problems. Technology is quick to respond, can be automated and keeping the current scenario in mind, also minimizes physical interaction. OSHA, too, believes that an automated, interactive, software-based training can serve as a valuable tool in the overall training program.

Training software applications come with an advantage of automating their training programs, so that employees can track and report their compliance initiatives. However, training alone may not be sufficient. Making regular checks to ensure the guidelines are being followed to stay clear of the OSHA violations’ radar is also an important step. This reduces the number of safety-related accidents and improves productivity.

Today there are tech-based interconnected ecosystems such as WrkSpot that provide an end-to-end OSHA training workflow. It also allocates time to managers at workplaces to automate tasks for training, inspection, OSHA regular checks, and so on.

As an owner or the manager of a hotel, hotel reputation management is one of your top priorities since it leads to customers and future business generation. It is, therefore, your responsibility to ensure that your business is in compliance with the regulations. OSHA inspectors make unannounced inspections to hotels, so ensuring you are on top of things is a must. Violations can leave a scar on the reputation of the hotel and not just with a fine. With COVID-19 transforming industries as a whole, it’s time to start anew with less violations and more guest services. So, is your hotel OSHA ready?

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