The day-to-day challenges of running a busy hotel or restaurant require agility and a broad skill-set. In just one morning a hospitality industry manager may go from ordering supplies and conducting job interviews, to dealing with the Fire Inspector and helping check in a busload of international tourists. In the midst of juggling all of the responsibilities inherent in operating a hospitality business, one very important consideration is often missed: implementation of an occupational health and safety (OHS) management system.
The hazards of working in a hotel or restaurant are obvious, right? Sprains, cuts, and slips and trips are at the top of the list. But staff may also be dealing with faulty equipment, caustic cleaning chemicals, their own fatigue, drunk and disorderly customers, even criminals with an eye on the cash register. For many restaurant workers, these things are all “just part of the job.” But OHS legislation in every Canadian province makes it the employer’s responsibility to protect their workers from workplace hazards. Those who fail to do so may be subject to ticketing, fines, and even criminal charges.
What can you do about it? Start by reviewing your provincial Occupational Health and Safety legislation to identify what parts of it apply to your business. If you belong to a local business association, bring the issue to the attention of the whole group, and do the review together. This will allow you to split up the work involved, and potentially come up with systems that can benefit everyone in the group. Your industry safety associations can also provide you with resources and training to help support your quest for a healthy and safe workplace.
Here at home, the Alberta Hospitality Safety Association (AHSA) is working with Saskatchewan’s Service and Hospitality Safety Association (SHSA) to offer a program designed to help employers identify their health and safety responsibilities and begin to build an occupational health and safety management system in bite-sized chunks. The Hospitality Safety Leadership Certificate program provides employers with recognition for achieving specific milestones along the way through four different levels of certification. The hope is that a plan of action and recognition for following the steps will allow employers to build the momentum needed to effectively move towards a workplace where health and safety activities simply become part of everyday job tasks and activities.
As the OHS system develops, senior management will begin to notice that the investments made at the beginning of the process are beginning to pay off. Staff is better trained, and processes are streamlined. Efficiencies are discovered and downtime is reduced. Employees feel that their employer sincerely cares about their well-being, and absenteeism and turnover declines. Reduced Workers’ Compensation rates are also sure to follow. What started out as a way to meet your legal obligations will soon become a valuable part of how you run a successful business.