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The peril underfoot: Tackling the increase in slips and falls in Australia’s hotel industry

According to Safe Work Australia, slips and trips made up a significant percentage of serious claims

The Australian hospitality sector takes pride in its capacity to meet international standards while catering to a diverse clientele. However, there remains an often-underestimated peril lurking in the shadows: the risk of slips and falls.

For hoteliers, understanding and addressing this risk is not merely an exercise in compliance; it’s a commitment to the safety and well-being of both guests and staff.

In Australia, slip and fall incidents rank among the most common reasons for public liability claims.

According to Safe Work Australia, in 2020 alone, slips and trips made up a significant percentage of serious claims, causing concern within multiple sectors, including hospitality. The implications are manifold: from medical costs and legal implications for the establishment, to pain, trauma, and lost productivity for the victim.

Root causes

According to Glenn Elliott from GripFactory Australia, numerous factors contribute to this pervasive issue. Australia’s varied climate, from the tropical humidity of Queensland to the chilly drizzles of Melbourne, often means hotel premises can become unexpectedly slippery. Pool areas can be hotspots for such incidents, and high foot traffic areas like foyers, restaurants, and bars can all pose a danger when any liquids are spilled, or water is brought in from outside.

The liability challenge

Australian law holds establishments responsible for ensuring their premises are safe for all. If due diligence is not maintained and someone suffers a slip or fall as a result, the establishment may be held legally liable.

Beyond the immediate financial implications of compensations or settlements, there’s also the potential for reputational damage. In an age of social media and instant reviews, a single incident can lead to a barrage of negative publicity.

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Addressing the risk of slips and falls is both a moral imperative and a strategic necessity. Here are some recommended strategies for hoteliers:

  • Risk assessment: Regularly undertake a thorough risk assessment of all areas within the hotel. Identify potential slip hazards and implement preventive measures. This could range from anti-slip treatments in the bathrooms to caution signs in areas that have been recently cleaned. A Wet Pendulum Slip Resistance Test can highlight areas of concern.
  • Staff training: Staff are the first line of defense. Regular training sessions on safety protocols, quick response mechanisms, and even educating them about appropriate footwear can reduce the risk of slips and falls.
  • Guest education: While you cannot control the footwear choices of your guests, you can certainly guide them. Providing information on potential slip zones, especially in recreational areas like pools or spas, can be invaluable.
  • Quality materials: Investing in high-quality, anti-slip floor treatments can go a long way in minimising risks. Similarly, the choice of cleaning products is important, ensuring that they leave minimal residue can help in keeping surfaces slip-free
  • Stay updated: Keeping abreast of the latest standards, technologies, new products, and best practices can ensure you stay one step ahead in ensuring safety.

The risk of slips and falls is not to be taken lightly. It is a silent menace that has both immediate and long-term consequences for victims and establishments.

Slip fall hospitality
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By being proactive and placing an emphasis on safety, hoteliers can ensure they continue to offer their guests an experience that’s memorable for all the right reasons. In a fiercely competitive market, such a commitment can make all the difference.

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