The hospitality sector is as diverse as the risks that beset it. The sector spans hotels, resorts, motels, eateries, theme parks, bars, pubs, taverns, clubs, event planning, travel and tourism. It’s any business that serves food and/or drinks, prioritises customer service and earns more revenue from services than goods.

This article covers the most common risks and what you can do to minimise them.

Slips, trips and falls

It may be no surprise that slips, trips and falls are among the biggest causes of third party injury in the hospitality sector. These are caused by food spillages, trip hazards and wet floors, which are more likely to occur where there are hazards such as cluttered workspaces, blocked walkways, as well as kitchen staff and waiters rushing to serve patrons.

Take a preventative approach by training staff continuously from induction to refreshers to identify key hazard areas and situations. Register and debrief them on near misses, incidents and accidents. Document safe work processes and ensure staff understand procedures for spillages and flooring defects.
As well, consider investing in a mobile app, like Beekeeper, to communicate with your whole hospitality workforce in real-time in their preferred language, or check out Hotel Tech Report’s list of staff safety software options.

Food-borne illnesses

Slipping up on food safety is another huge risk for hospitality businesses. Common infections are salmonella, campylobacter, vibrio, E.coli and norovirus. Not managing these risks could be pricey for your business, leading to closure, fines, product liability claims and possible class actions in court and associated reputational loss.

Ensure your staff have ongoing training in safe food handling, sanitation, health safety procedures and your vendors have high-quality control systems. The Federal Department of Health sets out food standards and safety rules, plus Food Standards Australia’s InfoBites offers these comprehensive ways of managing a range of risks. As well, the Food Safety Institute has a good overview on the training requirements for hospitality businesses.

Patron behaviour

It’s an extra burden for your staff to manage patron behaviour. A top risk is alcohol-fuelled behaviour (and serving minors), particularly for businesses offering such drinks. Your staff should already have Responsible Serving of Alcohol certification. Sites such as DrinkWise have useful touchpoints to discuss issues and help make the knowledge stick. Does your drinks menu also offer decent choices for those keen to stay sober?

Staff are also at the front line of your premises to deal with flak from patrons from the fast-changing COVID-19 check-in and social distancing public health orders. Research published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management has found the pandemic has depleted the psychological, financial and social resources of workers in your sector. The research found that can exacerbate depression in employees and mean they’re more likely to be ‘deviant’. The fix? Primarily, social support from peers.

Risks to employees

Employers can help by being strategic in identifying at-risk staff, appreciating some staff respond better to fewer acquaintances, while others might need a broader social network. Develop an employee wellbeing program or partner with non-profits or support agencies to connect staff with their services, particularly if they are under financial distress. As well, use downtime to help build teamwork among staff – check out the free training resources from the William Angliss Institute.

Equipment failure

Fully functioning equipment is the backbone of your business. When it fails, financial and reputation losses, plus health issues, can escalate. Think about which maintenance philosophy your business predominantly harnesses and if it’s a good fit. Is the ethos preventative or pre-emptive, corrective, risk-based, or condition-based?

Insurance you should have as a hospitality business

Another layer of protection is to insure for equipment breakdown, such as through a stand-alone policy or part of a policy package. Talk to us for advice on the most appropriate risk management strategy for your business. Insurance solutions to give you peace of mind include these that hospitality businesses choose:

  • Public and products liability
  • Property
  • Money (covers cash while it’s on your premises during and after business hours)
  • Machinery breakdown
  • Business interruption
  • Management liability
  • Electronic equipment breakdown
  • Workers’ compensation cover.

Bundling your policies into one package and securing them through us can earn you discounts and save time.