The dominant health and safety challenge in the hospitality business is an ever-changing landscape — whether it’s revolving seasons, fluctuating staff levels, varying client needs or new regulations. To ensure consistency and continuity in all things safety, the Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown London in Ontario has proven that persistence, proactivity and continuous improvement are key.
“We can never rest on our laurels, no matter how successful we may have been in previous years,” says Anna McNutt, the hotel’s general manager. This ongoing diligence has not only kept lost-time injuries at bay, but also ensured that both staff and guests feel safe and secure.
While seasonal issues include typical Canadian winter concerns such as ice and snow on walkways, summers have seen a rising interest in outdoor barbecuing by both staff and guests. Tony D’Ariano, maintenance manager and health and safety chair, points out that to ensure safe usage of the popular barbecue grills supplied by the hotel, guests and employees receive operating instructions and a knowledge quiz.
Training schedules are complicated by the nature of the business, which is marked by part-time staff, shift work and fluctuating workloads influenced by guest registration and needs. To ensure that all 40 hotel staff get the same training, D’Ariano and McNutt developed a flexible train-the-trainer program for department managers to include those who cannot attend large group sessions. Among the training support materials are video clips and PowerPoint presentations that are used in various scenarios, including lunch-and-learns and the daily 15-minute “morning huddles” where staff can raise any issue or ask any question.
A growing part of the guest complement comes from corporate contracts, such as hospitals that refer out-of-town clients to the hotel. These could be cancer and diabetes patients coming into London for treatments who arrive with medical supplies, wheelchairs, walkers and the like. This means that staff needs to be trained in sharps disposal and other health procedures.
Building in some fun also helps employees stay engaged. For example, the hotel recently held an election for a new joint health and safety committee member. The three candidates campaigned for votes with buttons, posters and promises, presenting their cases for why they should be elected.
“The knowledge that our team members gain from our relentless training, documentation and communications efforts gives them the confidence to safely handle any component of their jobs,” concludes McNutt.