Last month, we looked at the risks of slips, trips and falls within hotel settings. In the second part of our blog, we discuss your obligations as a hotel manager or owner when it comes to First Aid and Fire Safety. How many First Aiders do you have on-site? Do your staff and guests have easy access to fire exits? We explore these important points further below:
First Aid for hotel staff
The First Aid at Work Regulations 1981 state that all employers have a legal duty to make arrangements to ensure staff receive immediate care, if they are taken ill or injured at work. This includes providing an appropriate level of first aid cover should an incident occur. Although the regulations do not oblige you to treat members of the public, if you ignore a first aid situation involving a guest, this could damage your reputation, causing bad publicity, as well as the incident resting heavily on your conscience. Through social media, people can instantly comment on your hotel, so it is common sense to try and help your guests, as well as your staff, by having a First Aider on-site.
In our previous blog, we stressed the importance of a Risk Assessment of First Aid Needs (RAOFAN). In our experience, we find this is often overlooked by smaller businesses, and yet, if an accident were to happen on your premises and someone was seriously injured, you could be sued – see leaflet ACOP L74 Third Edition dated 2013 for more information.
Everyday cuts, minor burns, etc. are easily treated by trained First Aiders. As a hotel manager, one of the biggest challenges you may find is dealing with serious situations such as heart attacks or cardiac arrests, sick or injured children, and most commonly of all, guests who have drunk excessively. Many hotels do not have access to defibrillators (AEDs) – and yet this could save a person’s life in an emergency. Bear in mind that it could take emergency services a long time to get to you, especially if you are in a large building with substantial grounds, or you’re in a rural location. In an emergency, time is critical so always be prepared. Why not consider installing a defibrillator at your premises, along with delivering the necessary AED training for staff?
Fire Safety – are your exits blocked?
Check all fire exits on a regular basis. A fire exit door may look okay from the inside of a building, but how does it look from the outside? Usually, the biggest problem with fire exits is access. A blocked fire exit could lead to disaster, should the worst happen and a fire breaks out. Common causes of obstructions include rubbish or rubbish bins, items stored nearby or against the fire door, and overgrown plants or bushes. Check whether the fire door opens fully – are there any obstructions?
We recently found that a client’s fire exit providing access out of the building, was partially obstructed by the fire escape, which led down from a higher floor level. If you were not aware of this, and failed to turn immediately left as you exited the building, you could end up knocking yourself out on the fire escape structure, with people possibly tripping over you as they also attempted to leave the building. This could result in a series of hazards caused by the very means of escape!
Another example is where a fire exit had a steel bar security gate in front of it, which was padlocked shut. Next to the gate, three keys hung on a hook – but only one key opened the padlock. If you found the key and turned left, your exit was blocked due to overgrown bushes, and if you turned right, you were led into a yard at the far end of the building with no exit. The only remaining option would be to climb over a 6-foot-high fence topped by razor wire – or find a further key to the gate in the yard, which was not available as it did not belong to the business. Should the fire exit issue be left unresolved, this could result in a dangerous situation where people start panicking as they find themselves trapped next to a burning building.
Never underestimate the level of risk when it comes to running a hotel or a similar business. If you have members of the public staying or visiting your premises regularly, every possible risk must be considered.
For information on First Aid and Fire Safety training for your hotel staff, please call 07974 40798 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org