The Vulnerabilities of Hotel Workers When Working Alone
by Jiun Wang, on Mar 4, 2021 3:59:00 PM
Working alone on a hotel floor places a worker in a vulnerable situation and sometimes can lead to assaults or unwelcome behaviors. This year, a man in North Carolina assaulted and tried to rape a female hotel worker when cleaning a guest room. There was also an incident in New York where two suspects knocked a male hotel worker to the ground and punched him repeatedly. Even though hotel buildings have phone lines and walkie-talkies, it is sometimes not enough to allow someone to call for help when they are under certain types of threats.
Knowing some of the vulnerabilities your hotel workers face when working alone will help you determine if your property may need to improve current safety measures to ensure your people are protected.
Types of Vulnerabilities Hotel Workers Face
In the new world with an ongoing pandemic, many hotels have reduced the number of workers present in the building, increasing the chances of working alone on a floor. Depending on where someone is working alone, it places them in different vulnerable situations based on their access to receive help.
On average, a full-time housekeeper cleans about 14 or more rooms per day. When cleaning guest rooms, she is sometimes the only person on the hotel floor with a cleaning cart and guest room phone nearby. Being alone puts her in a vulnerable situation where she may be a victim to the following:
- Sexual or physical assault – Being pushed or shove to the ground, locked in a closet, or potentially knocked unconscious behind a closed hotel room door.
- Witnessing indecent exposure – Entering a guest room by request for cleaning or delivery and having a guest intentionally waiting in the room nude.
- Inappropriate behavior or requests for sexual favors – Being stalked or asked personal questions about her relationship and request to "meet me in my room."
- Medical emergency – Experiencing health-related emergencies from slipping and falling, heart attack, trouble breathing type situations where it is difficult to move to another location for help.
Front Desk Associates
The front desk will often have a person staffed there 24/7 to answer calls, greet guests, and help with the check-in and check-out procedure. During certain times of the day when there is only one person at the front desk, it can become a dangerous or uncomfortable situation since anyone can walk through the property's doors and become a victim to the following:
- Physical assault - Guest attacking the front desk associate for calling the police or decline service for violations against policies.
- Threatening verbal assault - Complaints turning into aggressive verbal attacks with threats to their well-being and racial slurs.
- Increased health risk exposure – Checking the temperature of guests required to quarantine and addressing the removal of discontent trespassers.
What Hoteliers Can Do to Protect Their Hotel Workers
Each hotel has its own set of operations and safety policies, and we suggest having a staff safety assessment as a regular exercise to identify the risks, assess existing measures, and find solutions to take action to invest in staff safety. By taking time to have conversations with your staff and review your current safety practices, you can help protect your people and lower the risks. Failure to invest in your hotel workers' safety can lead to workers abandoning their job, legal fees for damages, increase insurance premiums, negative media, and more. Protecting your hotel workers is also protecting your hotel's brand reputation.
Not sure where to start for a staff safety assessment? Check out our Free Staff Safety Risk Assessment Checklist.
A Favorite Safety Solution for Housekeepers and Front Desk Associates
After identifying areas at your hotel that need better safety measures, you may come to find that a majority of hotel workers in the industry have advocated having panic button devices (i.e., duress alarms, employee safety devices) provided at the property. Most recently, the State of Illinois has legislation compliance that required all hotels and casinos to provide all employees with panic button devices by March 1st, 2021. Other cities and states have already passed similar legislation because hotel workers who work alone are vulnerable to dangers.