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Copyright  2001 Claire Belilos
HIC Hospitality Consulting Services

Terms: For reading only. Not to be sold, reprinted,re-written, distributed, re-broadcast,
uploaded, or used to conduct training by others without written agreement

Visit CNN Terror Victims Page

There is renewed awareness regarding Safety and Security, which have taken precedence over all other subjects since the terrible tragedies of September 11, 2001, in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, which cost thousands of lives.

Measures are being discussed to find the proper balance between ensuring safety and security and preserving people's right to privacy and civil liberties.  I do not want to go political here but wish to point out that the same discussions and debates which take place nationally and internationally apply to the workplace.  This dilemma must be highlighted before embarking on the subjects of safety and security.

Civil Liberties and the Right to Privacy

The main point to consider here is:  "whose" rights are to be considered and take precedence over the other:  The rights of regular and law abiding people or the rights of criminals and suspects?  How can we ensure that those in power do not abuse legislation and measures implemented to maintain a safe and secure environment to protect the right "to living and well-being" for all members of society?   The U.S. Congress is trying to find solutions.  

These very same points, when viewed within the context of the workplace,  bring up the subject of management's responsibility to ensure the owner's assets, and provide a safe and secure environment for its employees and its customers.   "Customers" is used here in its broadest sense,  embracing all those who contact and visit the company and those who use its services and products, including the oft-forgotten suppliers, contractors and service providers of the company.  In Hospitality operations, this term also embraces outside concessionaires, such as independent stores (and their customers) operating on the premises of a Hotel or other Hospitality concern.  

Safety and Security

Safety and Security, like Training and Development, are often left on the back burner until a crisis occurs.  By then, people fall victim to crime, get robbed, get assaulted, become sick or even die.  Although we mention "safety and security" in one breath, and despite the interrelationship between them, Safety and Security represent two different subjects.

Security Issues

Security encompasses areas such as security of the property itself, company assets,  employees' and customers' personal belongings and valuables, life security, personal security, and job security (not covered here because this latter relates to income security), among others.  

Let us take one "security example" related to employees' personal belongings and valuables in a hotel environment:
In all workplaces management stipulates that it is not responsible for valuables and employees personal belongings (their handbags, items kept in the personal lockers, etc.).  Yet management must take all possible measures to prevent theft among employees and of employee belongings through its hiring practices and through the implementation of effective  management, human resources and operational policies, such as:  

  • Background checks of selected applicants
  • Policies related to employees' entry to, and exit from, the workplace
  • Spot checks of locker rooms and lockers
  • Effective supervision and control during the work cycle
  • Policies related to the discovery of criminal records and wrongdoing among, and by,  employees
  • Control of people entering and exiting the workplace

With regard to guest valuables, management informs guests that the hotel is not responsible for valuables left in the room, advising them to secure these in safety deposit boxes provided by the hotel.  Besides taking care of security issues related to the people they employ (as outlined above), management must undertake some necessary measures, among which:

  • Providing "secure" (safety) deposit boxes and areas to keep valuables
  • Policies and practices to ensure the security of these boxes and areas
  • Management and operational policies regarding the security of guest rooms
  • Management and operational policies regarding the security of public areas
  • Security policies and practices for the back-of-the-house areas
  • Employment and training of security personnel
  • Policies and practices to minimize the "presence" and "patronage" of  "shady characters" and criminals, verification of registration and check-in personal data and documentation submitted, and curtailing free movement of unknowns on the premises, as well as direct, free flowing communication with local, national and international security authorities)
  • Training of staff in guest and valuable security
  • Effective supervision and control procedures.


When we take the same hotel as example, it is management's duty to ensure "safety" in several areas, such as:

  • The structure itself
  • Installations and fixtures (check electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning and other installations)
  • Public and work areas (e.g. slippery floors,  hazardous obstacles in traffic areas), safety of furniture, equipment, appliances, and utensils.

This is followed by:   

  • Health safety (nontoxic cleaning material and detergents used)
  • Good quality air (what we breathe, dependent upon the type of equipment, installations and fixtures used, and regular repairs and maintenance)
  • Food safety (a whole world in itself including sanitation, food quality, food spoilage, correct handling procedures, allowable and recommended temperatures, etc.), and checking and control procedures.  

An important "preventive measure" is eliminating the possibility of communicating contagious diseases.  Even if local regulations do not require it, it is recommended to send food and beverage handlers for regular medical checkup. Another preventive measure is the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures related to employee accidents which may present a threat to food sanitation.  Culinary staff who cut themselves accidentally at work, as often happens while slicing food products, have to immediately stop handling food, and report to their Executive Chef and to the person in charge of First Aid in their company (Security or Human Resources Department) for preliminary treatment and handling.  Healing and precautionary measures are taken before they are allowed back at their job.

There are also some basic "dress" requirements for staff involved in food and beverage preparations:  e.g. Chefs' hats (to prevent hair and whatever hair contains to fall into the food), discreet earrings (non-dangling) or no earrings for women, and long hair neatly and securely tied in a bun at the back of the head.

Of no lesser importance is the safety of work tools and work procedures covering all areas, such as stable ladders, secure shelving, safety shoes, well-fitting work garments, clearly written and complete safety procedures and guidelines from management, safety training, and safety installations and equipment, e.g. fire fighting units, regular maintenance schedules for safety equipment and installations, wider traffic areas (to prevent accidents), adequate staffing, and last but not least, continuous effective training in work procedures.

All of this necessitates comprehensive planning, the creation of clear policies and work procedures, organization, implementation, training of supervisors and employees, supervision and control.  

Safety and Security Committee

Effective management of safety and security is made possible only by appointing an overall Safety and Security Coordinator (preferably a Department Head) who will form a Safety and Security Committee, composed of a variety of Department Heads and Assistant Departments, with himself/herself in the role of Safety and Security Committee Secretary.  Such centralization will enable effectiveness and efficiency of the Committee, bringing up the subjects for discussion and follow-up on implementation.  Usually, the Chief Engineer and the Security Manager of the organization are CO-Chairs of this Committee.

The Safety and Security Committee must conform and cooperate with national, state and local regulations, submitting reports to the authorities where required.  Committee members establish policies, procedures and training strategies, to cover all areas related to safety and security, including "Emergency Procedures" (e.g. accidents, fire control, assault, robbery, mad acts by employees, visitors or guests, and all other possible cases which would present an emergency).  They delegate responsibilities to different Department Heads, Departments, and specific employees. They communicate to the organization at large and implement widespread training, including drills and simulations.

Hotel Managers usually have clearly written instructions to guests for cases of emergency or fire, informing them of what action to take, e.g. (a) Call the Operator or (b) Leave your room,  take the nearest staircase (emergency exit) and do not use elevators in case of fire.  They affix a clear map with instructions on the inside panel of guest room doors. Bellmen, who help with check-in, explain and show emergency exits to newly arrived guests.

The Safety and Security Committee is the most important one in an operation since well-being and lives are at stake.  Meetings are held at least once a month, while the appointed Subcommittees who take "field action" meet oftener.  Meetings regarding safety and security are not intended for the exchange of idle banter.  Their duty is to ensure safety and security of the property and all the people who are in the property. Each member comes with a ready-made agenda for discussion and has to report on experiences and observations.  Minutes of the meeting should be clearly written and distributed within two days at the utmost.  The Safety and Security Coordinator (aka Committee Secretary) follows up on decisions taken at the meetings to ensure immediate action and ensures effective training material, strategies and activities.

Legal Liability

The owners and the managers of an operation are legally liable for any accidents, illness and death caused by negligence with regard to Safety and Security, vis-a-vis the courts and vis-a-vis the company's insurers.

Policies and procedures must be complete, with clearly written instructions.  Communications to both in-house personnel and to guests must also be "wholesome", effective and clear.  Training strategies and activities must be clearly written, with scheduled planned and historic records. This applies also to repairs and maintenance schedules, drills, and Committee Meetings.

The above is not written based on theory but on actual successful experience in organizing the best Safety and Security handling in the service industry.  
Thank you for your attention.

Additional article on the subject:
Emergency Management, Safety and Security

Visit CNN Terror Victims Page

If you wish to upgrade your Safety and Security setup professionally contact Claire Belilos through

Copyright  2001 Claire Belilos

This article is a condensed version of Easytraining Insights Digital Newsletter Issue #14 of CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services. We usually do NOT feature, for public viewing, articles contained in Easytraining Insights Digital.  However, considering the subject at hand, and for the "common good", this condensed version has been posted. 

This article is not to be used for "commercial purposes" (being used by outside trainers and other consultants for training activities), republished, uploaded, broadcast or distributed in any form or manner without written permission from its author.  Hospitality operators and other industry Managers are hereby authorized to print out the article for distribution among their staff and use it for their "in house" training conducted internally
by and for their own staff.   For other licensing,  please contact Claire Belilos (see contact details below)

Emergency Management, Safety & Security

Written and published by:
Claire Belilos  http://
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Read this excellent article on the same subject, but with a different angle, written by Arthur Andersen and featured in Hotel-Online


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