Workplaces in the accommodation services industry can pose health and safety risks for workers and visitors. The work may be physically demanding and carried out under pressure, leading to a higher risk of injuries. Also, workers engage with the public which can increase the risk of violence and harassment. The accommodation services industry involves providing accommodation facilities to patrons. Accommodation services may include:
- hotels and motels
- caravan and camping grounds
- resorts, holiday rentals, and
- ski lodges and youth hostels.
Workplaces may include areas where workers interact directly with patrons. For example, service desks, concierge counters, lobbies, offices and hotel rooms.
There can be significant health and safety risks in the accommodation services industry.
Vulnerable workers may be more at risk of WHS injuries. Vulnerable workers may include:
- young workers
- part-time and casual workers
- culturally and linguistically diverse workers
Vulnerable workers may be less aware of what the work health and safety laws are and how they apply to them and their work.
Young workers may be at an increased risk of injury due to their lack of experience. They may also be:
- developing their skills, competencies and physical capabilities
- unfamiliar with appropriate workplace behaviours
- reluctant to make requests, ask questions or speak out about problems
- overly keen to please and make a good impression, and
- over-confident in their capabilities
Accommodation services may also include food services, such as a restaurant or café in a hotel. For further information on managing the risks in the food services industry, see the Food Services webpage.
Everyone in the workplace has work health and safety duties. Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have specific obligations to protect the health and safety of everyone in their workplace. As a PCBU, you must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable:
- the health and safety of workers and others at your workplace
- you provide and maintain a work environment that does not pose physical and psychological risks to health and safety, and
- workers are given the information, training, instruction and supervision needed for them to carry out their work safely.
WHS duties may also apply for home-sharing services where a person rents out part of, or all of their property to other people, including through third party applications. If the person in control of the property engages workers, such as a cleaning service, then those duties would be regarded as an ‘undertaking’. This would mean the property owner has WHS duties to maintain a safe workplace. The person employed has the worker’s duty of care under the model WHS Act.
To manage health and safety risks as a PCBU you must:
- identify hazards in the workplace
- assess the associated risks
- implement control measures to eliminate or minimise risks, and
- regularly review control measures to ensure they remain effective.
You must do these things in consultation with your workers and any health and safety representatives.
Ways to manage risks
You should manage risks by working through the hierarchy of control measures.
The hierarchy of control measures requires that you first aim to eliminate a risk. For example, using cordless vacuum cleaners to eliminate an identified trip hazard.
If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate a risk, you must minimise the risk. Use one or more of the following approaches to minimise the risks:
- Substitute the hazard with something safer. For example, substitute a hazardous cleaning chemical with a safer one.
- Isolate the hazard. For example, store equipment correctly and/or use physical barriers to separate workers from trip hazards.
- Use engineering control measures. For example, use mechanical aids to minimise manual handling.
If risks still remain, you must minimise them, so far as is reasonably practicable, using administrative control measures. For example, put cleaning procedures in place to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls. You must also provide training on safe work procedures. For example, train workers on the safe use of machinery. You must also supervise new and young workers if needed. For example, check on them to correct any unsafe work practices. Supervisors should be available to answer questions and provide guidance.
You must minimise any remaining risks with suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, ensure workers wear the correct PPE when working with chemicals.
For more information, see the model Code of Practice: How to manage work health and safety risks.
Common hazards and risks in the accommodation services industry
The first step in the risk management process is to identify the hazards and associated risks in the workplace. Common hazards that can lead to injuries in the accommodation services industry are:
- manual handling tasks. For example, lifting and carrying heavy objects and awkward or repetitive movements. Hazardous manual tasks may increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and body stress.
- exposure to chemicals, such as cleaning products
- uneven or slippery floor and trip hazards
- fatigue, particularly from shift and night work
- exposure to work-related violence, aggression, harassment and bullying, and
- stress from issues such as high work demand and a lack of support from managers.
Control measures for common hazards and risks
Examples of control measures for common hazards in the accommodation services industry are listed below. You must put control measures in place that are specific to the hazards at your workplace. Potential hazards and control measures are not limited to what is outlined below.
Hazard: Manual handling
- change the design or layout of work areas to eliminate or minimise manual handling
- ensure workspace heights are appropriate to reduce the need for awkward postures
- redesign tasks to minimise manual handling, for example by using mechanical aids
- rotate manual handling tasks between workers to reduce the strain from repetitive movements
- provide training on correct manual handling procedures.
For more information, see the model Code of Practice: Hazardous manual tasks.
Hazard: Hazardous chemicals
- if possible, swap a hazardous chemical for a safer one
- ensure chemicals are labelled and stored correctly
- provide the current safety data sheet (SDS)
- provide the appropriate PPE for workers who use the chemicals
For more information, see the Hazardous chemicals webpage.
Risk: Slips, trips and falls
- maintain floors and surfaces and repair any damage
- provide non-slip mats
- use warning signs to warn workers of wet or potentially slippery floors and surfaces
- ensure equipment is stored and used correctly
- ensure floors and surfaces are kept clean and dry
- ensure staff wear non-slip footwear.
For more information see the model Code of Practice: Managing the risks of falls at workplaces and the Slips trips and falls webpage
Hazard: Work-related violence, aggression, harassment and bullying
- manage expectations of patrons and provide sufficient staff at peak times
- ensure access to the premises is appropriately controlled
- ensure internal and external lighting provides good visibility
- limit the amount of cash and valuables held on the premises
- ensure there are no dangerous objects that could be thrown or used to injure someone
- avoid workers needing to work alone. Where workers must be alone, ensure they are able to call for assistance if required.
- put up signs to reflect that the workplace will not accept any forms of violence or aggression
- train workers in how to deal with difficult patrons. For example, training on:
- conflict resolution
- when to escalate issues to senior staff, and
- procedures for reporting incidents
- provide a positive, respectful work culture. Violence, aggression, harassment and bullying by other workers should not be tolerated.
Risk: Psychosocial harm
- clearly define workers’ roles
- provide workers with the resources, information and training they need to carry out their work safely
- regularly review workloads and time pressures with workers
- check in with workers. Ask them if anything is stressing and how it could be addressed
- support workers who may be more at risk of workplace psychological injury
- provide workers with a point of contact to discuss their concerns
- foster a positive, respectful work culture where bullying is not tolerated
- refer workers to mental health and wellbeing support services, such as employee assistance programs.
For more information, see the Guide: Work related psychological health and safety: A systemic approach to meeting your duties.
- where possible, provide fit-for-purpose machinery and equipment. For example, provide ergonomic furniture, lifting equipment and anti-fatigue matting.
- design work tasks so that workers are not standing for prolonged periods
- rotate work tasks that are physically demanding
- consider scheduling of shifts, particularly when work is undertaken outside standard business hours
- make sure workers get enough rest breaks during and between working hours.
For more information, see the Guide for managing the risks of fatigue at work
Review control measures
Risk management is an ongoing process. You must review control measures regularly to make sure they remain effective.
For further information see the model Code of Practice: How to manage work health and safety risks, the model Code of Practice: Work health and safety consultation, cooperation and coordination and the model Code of Practice: Hazardous manual tasks.
Small businesses can find further information on the small business webpage.