Feature: Safety is Serious Business: A Look at Health and Safety in the Hospitality Sector

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Divi Southwinds Beach Resort in St. Lawrence Gap, Christ Church. (A.Miller)??

Safety is considered serious business at some organisations around the island and many managers have realised that implementing safety systems in the workplace is actually saving their companies substantial sums of money.

The Divi Southwinds Beach Resort in St. Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, is one such organisation.??

According to General Manager of that hotel, Alvin Jemmott, "health and safety are important because our employees and guests are important to us. ??The damage or cost of not having good health and safety practices is much more than implementing good health and safety procedures.

"Consequently, we want to mitigate the expenses of the hotel through proper practices, so every time we can prevent an accident, injury, medical costs or litigation, it helps to make the hotel more sustainable," he explained.

And, with the hospitality sector being one of the industries recording the highest number of accidents in the workplace annually, Divi Southwinds has taken a very thorough approach to Occupational Safety and Health.

The resort has an active safety and health committee, 24-hour security on site, secure storage facilities, an accident and equipment failure log sheet, safety and health training sessions and a fully integrated fire alarm system.??

According to Mr. Jemmott, the company has established a clearly defined policy on Occupational Safety and Health.?? Training is mandatory for employees, and guests are encouraged to participate in the hotel’s weekly orientation safety sessions.

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??Chief of Security, Mr. Barnes said Divi Southwinds has a fully integrated fire alarm system. (A.Miller/BGIS)
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??An accident and equipment failure log sheet is managed at reception. (A.Miller/BGIS)
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Safety & Health Officer, Sandy Miller inspects the storage room and labelling of chemicals. (A.Miller/BGIS)

"We have a very active safety and health committee.?? The committee meets often to look at safety issues across the spectrum of the hotel, and the members bring their concerns to management to seek resolution," he said, adding that concerns included the use of chemicals, uneven and patchy pathways, and improper use or lack of tools.??

The General Manager stressed that it was important for an organisation to have such a committee.?? Safety and health committees are required by law under Section 102 of the Factories Act, and Section 103 of the Safety and Health at Work (SHaW) Act.?? He said that these committees encouraged employee engagement and allowed everyone to participate in the prevention of safety and health hazards.

Mr. Jemmott gave an example of such a situation that prevailed within the hotel during the rainy season when water would "collect" on the corridors, staircase and in the reception area.?? He noted that the wet floors presented a huge source of danger and required the auxiliary staff to continually mop and clean the area.??

However, employees, through the agitation of the safety and health committee, found a permanent solution to the problem.?? Staff suggested to management that an extended roof be installed over the troubled zone.?? The proposed roof was fitted and the problem was resolved.

Chief of Security, Alwin Barnes explained that emergency and disaster preparedness was paramount at the three-star, medium-sized hotel.??

??"We are here not only to protect the physical assets but also the human lives.?? Our safety system includes a fully integrated fire alarm with smoke detectors in all the rooms and pull-panels along the pathways.?? Each room is outfitted with fire blankets and extinguishers and we participate yearly in fire inspection," he said, adding that adequate lighting around the property was another safety mechanism.

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(left) Mr. Barnes, Chief of Security shows Safety and Health Officer, Alison Elcock the emergency assembly point while Union Representative of Divi South winds, Garfield Gibbs, looks on. (A.Miller)????

Mr. Barnes emphasised knowing what to do in an emergency was also an area of importance for Divi Southwinds.?? "I believe that practice makes perfect, so we have fire drills twice a year.?? In fact, the last one was held in March and 51 staff members and 41 guests from 23 rooms took part," he recalled. "Normally an evacuation time for a building like this is six to eight minutes, and we did it in seven minutes.?? That was good and the exercise was monitored by the Barbados Fire Service."

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Divi Southwind’s Environmental Officer, Audrey Smith and General Manager, Alvin Jemmott discuss the sorting of garbage for reusing and recycling purposes. (A.Miller/BGIS)

Environmental Officer and leader of the Green Team for the 133-room hotel, Audrey Smith also pointed out that proper signage was important.?? "Every room has a visual evacuation plan stuck to the back of the door. So, occupants could see where in the building they are at, and when they leave, the best directions to the assembly point.?? We also have signs along the wall pointing the way to the safety zones," she outlined.

Ms. Smith noted that staff training and effective communication of safety procedures and the use of devices were essential to good Occupational Safety and Health.????

Ms. Smith said each department at the facility was represented on the Green Team.?? Some of their greening initiatives included reducing, reusing and recycling, testing of the hotel’s water, energy saving, and sorting of garbage.?? "We hope to start a greenhouse and train some of the staff in composting," she said.

Noting that the resort sought to accomplish Green Globe Certification each year, the Environmental Officer stated her role was to ensure that Divi Southwinds always met the requirements for that qualification.

The management and staff of the south coast hotel place much pride in their organisation, and viewed Occupational Safety and Health as everybody’s business.??

Urging other companies to follow suit, General Manager, Alvin Jemmott advised: "Take a serious look at the cost of injuries and accidents over time and measure this against the implementation of good safety procedures and I am confident you will see the cost of doing things the right way the first time, is less than the cost of correcting errors."

shamkoe.pile@barbados.gov.bb

Author: Shamkoe Pil??
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