workplace safety

The importance of workplace safety in hospitality

By Yasmine Mustafa

The hospitality industry can be very lucrative for people at all levels of the business. However, many companies in the industry struggle to comply with the workplace safety and health standards required of them, something that has taken on increased importance against the pandemic backdrop. Ultimately, lack of compliance can lead to a loss of income.

The hospitality industry covers more than the foodservice and hotel businesses. It also refers to companies in transportation, amusement parks, and tourist attractions. However, the food and hotel industries alone make hospitality one of the largest industries in the world, combining for a value of US$3 trillion.

With so much money on the line, the importance of meeting compliance standards is incredibly high. If businesses cannot meet compliance standards, they are at risk of shutting down.

Several things make it crucial for businesses in the hospitality industry to meet workplace safety standards. For example, hotel panic buttons are a requirement that is being added to many locations around North America.

The effect of young employee demographics

The hospitality industry attracts more young people than most other large industries. Students looking for part-time work often turn to jobs at restaurants to earn spending money. As a result, many hires in the hospitality industry are working their first jobs.

The presence of many young employees increases the importance of workplace safety in the hospitality industry. While there is nothing inherently wrong with having young employees, their lack of experience can put businesses at risk if they do not have specific instructions to follow.

The flip side is that younger workers may also be deemed more likely to follow rules; by putting strict standards and policies in place, they are more likely to perform tasks safely.

Furthermore, although some employees might follow rules for no other reason than they exist, others might need other motivations. So, it is crucial to lay out repercussions firmly but considerately for employees who actively ignore safety policies and procedures in the workplace.

Hospitality’s high turnover rate

Since there are so many young people and students in hospitality, the turnover rate is very high – over 50 per cent in 2015 and nearly 75 per cent in the early 2000s. These numbers are significantly higher than those for most other industries.

Several factors lead to high turnover, but the biggest one is the fact that many students take part-time jobs in the summer before dropping them at the start of the school year. Regardless of the reason, the high turnover rate means new employees constantly need to be taught workplace safety standards.

As a result, businesses must have an efficient and effective method for teaching workplace safety standards to all new employees. The process should effectively educate all new team members on how to act and what to avoid while working.

Concerns around insurance and regulation

The hospitality industry largely centres around customer service. As a result, there are insurance and regulation concerns for all owners and managers in the hospitality industry. People can sue businesses in the hospitality industry for any number of reasons. While not all legal actions will hurt a business, many of them can cause significant issues.

Several mishaps can lead to a business losing its food permit, which will send a restaurant out of business. As a result, it is crucial to train and educate all new employees on workplace safety standards.

Safety standards do not just cover things like having someone hold a ladder when you are on it. They also cover cleanliness standards businesses need to uphold when they work with food. Legal action over food is highly common and must be avoided. Even if a business can get its food license back after it has been taken away, its insurance prices will go up. As a result, they will be less profitable month to month.

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The price of failing to uphold workplace safety standards

Most businesses in the hospitality industry are built on reputation. People usually go to a restaurant for the first time because they heard about it from a friend. Word of mouth is essential, and as a result, you must keep your business in high reputation.

If people do not hear about a restaurant from a friend or family member directly, they probably look at reviews before going. If there are consistent negative reviews, people are more likely to choose a different restaurant. So, if news comes out that a restaurant had one or several incidents of food poisoning, its reputation will suffer. A few mistakes leading to food poisoning might not be enough to revoke a food license, but it is enough to damage the restaurant’s reputation.

Effectively training employees on health and safety standards is the best way to ensure a business in the hospitality industry maintains a high reputation. New employees should be educated before they start. Additionally, it is smart to host annual seminars to reeducate old employees and workplace safety standards they may have forgotten.

The hospitality industry gives most people joy. Everyone loves to go out for a delicious meal at their favourite restaurant, and who doesn’t want to go on a cruise every once in a while? However, it is crucial for business owners to keep up with changing workplace safety standards. There is no excuse to fall behind. With online training available, it is easier than ever to educate employees on workplace safety standards. It should be a priority of all owners because businesses with a high standard for workplace safety are more likely to be profitable in the long term.

Yasmine Mustafa is the CEO & Co-Founder of ROAR, a technology company dedicated to cultivating safer workplaces. The company’s patented workplace panic button solution provides employees with one press of a button to protect your people, here and now.