News & Views

Hotels Cut Safety Lines

BY Douglas Cameron
Health & Safety
BG Orange

We thought this month we would relate a story where one of our health and safety consultants stumbled across a less than satisfactory cost saving, which on any view, could jeopardise personal safety.

The consultant stayed in a hotel recently woke up and as he dived for a shower, found no water.   As a safety guru, he went through all the detailed checks, turning on and off the taps, shower and toilet.  Exhausted by all this early morning exercise, he confirmed, no water at all.

Next port of “call” – Reception - easy call and surely they will know and fix in minutes?   Right where is the phone?  What?  There is no phone?   So what now?

On the key there was a hand written telephone number. He call it and after 17 attempts at an engaged line and 20 minutes later got an answer confirming the location of the hotel “Livingston”, which was surprising as he looked over Liverpool Street Train Station in London.  He was then given a number for central reservations.

Giving up, he went to reception to find a large queue. Giving up at that point he got through the day and tried not to get too close to anyone.

This sad tale got us to wondering how this hotel group and others can back this “cost cutting exercise” with their obligation to implement a robust safety risk assessment and the control measure.  Calling a hotel some 500 miles away did not seem adequate, particularly in relation to the following:

  • Fire to report
  • Theft and fear of leaving room
  • Stranger at my door
  • Sudden illness
  • Sudden injury
  • Defective equipment
  • Room service
  • Get the Police (don’t forget the address of the hotel)
  • Family incoming call
  • Noise nuisance
  • Tea, coffee, sugar, pillows
  • Assistance in the event of evacuation (ability impaired guests)
  • Lack of power/water
  • My remote is not working

The answer is presumably go to reception or call in as an external caller. The hotel staff don’t  know you are an internal guest calling, and given the persistent engaged tone, it is questionable how many incoming lines there are.   What do you do on an engaged line in the event of an emergency?

The consultant went to a different hotel chain the following night, and found himself on the seventh floor with the same missing phones and no mobile phone signal.

Final thought, if there was a bomb threat and the hotel team wished to instruct guests to calmly leave the building by a particular route, how would they do that?


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