COVID-19 has created two pandemics. The virus and its growing number of mutations, which we are all way too familiar with, and a "Shadow Pandemic" of violence and intolerance, largely against service workers with in-flight incidents getting the most press.
As 2021 nears its end, hoteliers across the U.S will already be planning for the year ahead, and while budgets and capital expenditure are usually at the forefront of these plans, the unique challenges presented over the past two years mean that preparing for 2022 will require an unprecedented level of attention and forethought.
Alongside contingency plans and flexible budgeting designed to mitigate any potential setbacks during the year, careful consideration must also be given to staffing, supply chains, and commitments relating to legislation or brand mandates that have been delayed or deferred during the pandemic. Chief among these considerations are new technologies and procedures intended to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, however, impending panic button legislation across several states, and the deadline for compliance with brand commitments also needs to be high on the list of priorities.
With an increasing incidence of violence/threats to staff safety in the healthcare industry, a lot of facilities are looking into implementing increased protection measures. A recent example that drew attention is that of the Cox Medical Center in Missouri, where the incidence of violence against healthcare staff tripled in the last year. Total assaults rose from 40 to 123 and total injuries rose from 17 to a whopping 78 according to hospital data. Cox Medical Center decided to curb this issue by installing panic button solutions to protect their staff from this increased threat of violence.
We previously wrote about common threats and safety hazards in the healthcare industry and safety tips for healthcare facilities. In this blog post, we want to examine what a culture of safety might look like in the healthcare vertical, as advised by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other prominent organizations.
The current perception in the hotel industry is that staff safety solutions are simply a compliance requirement or legal necessity. Moreover, workplace panic buttons and duress systems are perceived as mainly an expense, an added hassle that requires maintenance and extra labor for those involved, perhaps with greater cost than benefit or return on investment.
For anyone researching panic buttons, the tech that lives under the hood of those tiny little devices can sometimes be confusing. Sure, they’re based around networks, which almost anyone can grasp, but the underlying functions and features can get lost in a sea of tech jargon and incomprehensible acronyms.
As all healthcare workers will know, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities can be busy, hectic places packed full of potential hazards. From infection to accidental injury and harassment to chemical spills, these working environments are often dangerous places to work, with more reported accidents, injuries, and work-related illnesses than any other industry. In fact, it’s estimated that a significant 650,000 healthcare professionals are injured on the job every year.
According to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), hospitals and healthcare facilities are among the most hazardous places to work in the world, recording a rate of 5.5 work related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full time employees.
According to a 2016 survey of 500 Chicago hotel workers, 58% have experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment by guests when they were at work. That’s up to twice the rate experienced by workers in other industries, and a worrying trend for those in hospitality. Additionally, anecdotal reports indicate a rising trend involving finding drugs and firearms in guest rooms adding to the risks hotel workers are encountering.
Giving employees the tools and resources they need to protect themselves in the workplace is a must in the hotel industry: it helps in raising safety standards, makes the work environment more egalitarian and inclusive, and protects valued members of staff. Research has shown that hotel workers are up to twice as likely to suffer a sexual assault compared to those who work in other industries. This can lead to high levels of hotel staff turnover and increase stress levels for those working in the hospitality industry—particularly for vulnerable groups such as women and/or immigrants that make up a large percentage of the workforce.