Hoteliers are being urged to review their safety processes to ensure that the tragic case of a woman who died after being scalded in a hotel shower is not repeated.
James Barker, solicitor at Kirwans law firm, has issued the reminder after a settlement was made out of court to the family of Indian holidaymaker Kalyani Uthaman, 59, who was severely scalded at the Premier Inn in Newcraighall, Edinburgh in 2012.
After suffering multiple organ failure, Kalyani died weeks later.
Now James is warning hoteliers to ensure they are meeting all their health and safety requirements – or risk paying a hefty price.
James said: “Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, hoteliers have an obligation to ensure that visitors to the premises are safe. That means carrying out regular inspections and repairs to their property By ensuring that they carry out regular inspections they are taking steps to ensure that the premises is safe and also complying with the Act. Hoteliers also have an obligation to ensure that they are taking out the correct public liability insurance.
“The implementation of regular risk assessments and actively looking for risks is crucial at all times, but especially during peak holiday times such as the forthcoming summer period.
“A failure to do so can not only endanger visitors’ safety, but also put hoteliers at risk of being left with a hefty amount of damages and legal fees to pay if they are found to be in breach of the Act.”
Here James looks at ten things you can do to safety-proof your hotel from the most common injuries.
1) Conduct a regular risk assessment of rooms
This is vital, as it’s here where many accidents and injuries can happen. Train staff to identify potential risks, and bring in a consultant to advise on health and safety.
2) Keep an eye on electrics
Loose wires on plugs, temperamental sockets and problematic kettles can all lead to injuries if not dealt with quickly. Ensure regular checks are done on electrics, including testing portable devices to eliminate dangers.
3) Arrange regular gas inspections
By law (The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998), gas installations must be maintained in a safe condition, so hire a Gas Safe (previously CORGI) engineer to carry out regular checks.
4) Check drawers, cupboards and under the bed
These seemingly innocuous spots can hide the most lethal of dangers – including syringes and knives. Train cleaning staff to check these areas thoroughly in a safe manner.
5) Follow food safety regulations to the letter
There are three food safety requirements which set out clearly what is expected. These are:
• Regulation EC no. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs.
• Regulation EC no. 178/2002 General Food Law.
• The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006.
If you’re unsure of exactly what these entail, then look them up and follow them to the letter to protect your customers – and your business.
6) Don’t leave fire safety to chance
Evacuation procedures, fire drills, regular smoke alarm testing, clear evacuation routes . . . there’s a lot to think about when it comes to fire safety, but it’s absolutely crucial that you’re prepared. Ensure that fire exits are kept clear at all times, and that exit signs are in full working order.
7) Have a clear policy on mopping up spills
Spills can occur anywhere, but the repercussions they can have on hotels if employees or residents slip on them can be costly. If you don’t have a policy on the immediate mopping up of spills then introduce one, and make it clear whose remit it falls under. Also check your insurance and make sure that injuries arising from slips are covered.
8) Have a regular supply of clean towels and bedding
Change bedding and towels as often as possible and ensure a protective surface is fitted on the mattress and changed regularly. If a visitor sustains illness or injury from diseases transmitted from these everyday hotel items then a hotelier could be exposed to a damages claim.
9) Ensure glass doors and patio windows are safe
There are a number of British Standards which apply to windows and doors. One such requirement is that glass doors and patio windows must be fitted with toughened or safety glass covered with a protective safety film to avoid accidents. Click here and here for more information.
10) Spot window dangers
Windows that are big enough for toddlers to fall through should be fitted with window restrictors to restrict the opening to 100mm or less.
“While it’s impossible to cover every eventuality,” said James, “by being proactive in these areas you will at least reduce the chances of your guests being injured at your establishment.”
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