Monthly Archives: January 2011

Food Industry Risks: New York Tortilla Factory Ordered To Shut Down After Employees’ Death And Discovery That Owners Did Not Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance

The state Workers Compensation Board issued a stop-work order at the Williamsburg facility after learning the factory’s owner, Erasmo Ponce, was not offering workers’ compensation insurance to his employees.

A Brooklyn tortilla factory where a man was crushed when he fell into a dough mixer has been temporarily shuttered, state officials said Friday. Tortilleria Chinantla was not closed because of Juan Baten’s gruesome death, but his loss of life did lead investigators to the facility, officials said.

“The owner would need to get the insurance and pay fines before he is permitted to reopen,” said agency spokesman Brian Keegan.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the state Department of Labor are investigating the deadly accident. Baten, 22, reached into the mixer early Monday and was sucked inside after his hand was snagged by one of its blades. The young father was killed instantly when a turbine broke his neck.

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Filed under Health, Injuries, Insurance, Labor Issues, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Guest And Employee Health: Studies Of “Smoke-Free” Law In Wisconsin Show “No Adverse Economic Effects”

 “This is excellent news for employers and employees in the hospitality industry,” says Gail Sumi, Wisconsin government relations director for the American Cancer Society.

“This study, like dozens of similar studies nationwide, offers more proof that going smoke-free does not pit business against health, but rather is a common sense health law that keeps workers and employers both physically and fiscally healthy.”

Wisconsin’s six-month-old smoke-free law seems to be working well, according to a new study of the experience of five cities by the University of Wisconsin.

The study – focusing on the effects of Wisconsin’s municipal smoke-free ordinances in Madison, Appleton, Eau Claire, Marshfield and Fond du Lac – found no adverse economic effects throughout the hospitality industry including bars and restaurants.

    Performed by the UW Carbone Cancer Center, the newly released 15-page study compared economic data between the five Wisconsin cities that enacted smoke-free ordinances before the statewide law took effect in July 2010 and similar cities where workplace smoking was still permitted.

    The results showed bars and restaurants in the smokefree cities continued to do well under the ordinances. In fact, in virtually every smokefree community the number of Class B alcohol licenses rose after the ordinances took effect and employment remained strong despite the recession.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Health, Labor Issues, Liability, Pool And Spa, Risk Management

Florida Hotel Threatens “” With Lawsuit Over “Inaccurate Reviews” Of Cleanliness Of Hotel; Website Does Not Perform “Onsite Inspections”

A Volusia County hotel is threatening legal action after a website listed the hotel as one of the dirtiest in the country.

According to state officials the report by paints an inaccurate picture of conditions at The Desert Inn Resort.

The owner Dennis Devlin showed WFTV his hotel which is located on Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach. Devlin said he’s furious at the travel website, which advertises reviews from travelers.

“When they put someone on a list you think they’d at least do an onsite inspection to verify what they’re saying is true,” said Devlin.

Some of the reviews said the Desert Inn Resort has roaches; however, the hotel just passed a state inspection which looks for sanitation and safety violations. Devlin claims that a majority of the reviews are bogus. “One person can write two negative reviews a month just by having different email addresses, different IP addresses.”

A spokesperson from told WFTV that the reviews are based on cleanliness ratings from travelers who said they’ve stayed at The Desert Inn Resort.

They said out of hundreds of reviews, 80 percent wouldn’t recommend the hotel. WFTV asked if they check hotel confirmation numbers or receipts to prove its travelers stayed at the hotel. A spokesperson said they don’t ask for that information. Delvin said it’s unfair and that’s why he plans to sue

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Hospitality Industry Employee Risks: New York Restaurant Employees “Secretly Tape” Owner And Supervisors And Claim Violation Of “Federal Labor Laws”

“These tapes and transcripts provide irrefutable proof that the Boathouse Restaurant has repeatedly violated federal labor laws,” said Peter Ward, president of Local 6 of the hotel and restaurant workers union.

Employees at the iconic Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park have been secretly taping their bosses.

Fed up with their treatment by management, dozens of waiters and dishwashers have been reporting to work for the past year armed with miniature cassette recorders and have taped hundreds of workplace conversations. Restaurant owner Dean Poll can be heard on several of the tapes warning his employees that if they vote for a union he “will go out of business.”

A dozen workers claimed Thursday in interviews with the Daily News that supervisors routinely threatened and retaliated against them for trying to organize a union.

On Tuesday, Poll suddenly dismissed 16 workers – all supporters of the union campaign.

The restaurant normally employs about 100 people in the winter and up to 200 during the spring and summer.

“They told us we were terminated because they have a new policy of bringing in agency workers,” said Francisco Labayen, a banquet waiter who regularly wore a wire to work.

Local 6 responded to those firings by formally petitioning for a union election Thursday to the National Labor Relations Board. Ward wants investigators from the federal agency to listen to the audiotapes for themselves and sanction Poll for a host of unfair labor practices.

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Hotel Industry Security Risks: Department Of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” Campaign Promotes Training Hotel Employees And Managers To Report “Suspicious Situations” On Property (Video)

How can your hotel ensure a sense of security and still offer a welcome and inviting environment for guests? A property’s front-line employees may well be the most crucial, yet often overlooked, element of effective hotel security.

Developed in partnership with international security experts, hospitality leaders, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign, Eye on Awareness—Hotel Security and Anti-terrorism Training provides the skills and knowledge essential for hotel employees to recognize, report and react to suspicious situations at their property.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Labor Issues, Liability, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training

Hospitality Industry Technology Issues: Hotel Managers Must Recognize The Importance Of Video For Marketing, Information Sharing, Communication And Education

“… innovation is going to be led by video and many companies are not prepared to capitalize on its power.  Everywhere around you people have smart phones and they do something with it that has an element of video. That is very different than we did a couple of years ago.”

(As) video becomes integrated in many different business models and sooner or later all companies, regardless of industry, will need to find creative ways to incorporate video into marketing, sharing of information, communication, and learning. Those companies that are unable to cater to different audiences via various media will suffer.

“It’s not just the phone industry or the media industry. It is going to be incorporated into every business model you find around the globe.”

Verwaayen says the U.S. and Europe have embraced different content formats and that Asia is catching on. ” The world is going to be a place where applications are going to cater to the taste of consumers and from that perspective consumers have all the power.”

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Filed under Guest Issues, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology, Training

Hotel Industry Technology: Hotel Owners Will Raise “Guest Satisfaction” With Increased Availability Of Mobile Device “Host-Based” Applications On Hotel Facilities And Events

“…a conference application, which put all the materials you typically get at a conference on the device, but also a directory of all the other people at the conference, with photos. We could push video and photos to the device during the meeting and update things real time as the conference was happening.”

Clearly the consumers, the guests we serve, are increasingly on the road and increasingly connecting to us through mobile devices, and there’s a tremendous pace of innovation on these devices. We don’t talk about smart phones now as much as we talk about super phones.

We’ve already launched applications for the iPhone across our brand, but we’re also building out applications for other mobile devices–a whole host of location-based services. You could imagine a time when a guest wants to find things around the hotel, or even within the hotel they’re at—if they need to find a coffee shop or a clothing store because they have forgotten something for their trip.

We rolled out 2,500 iPads—the largest one-day rollout of the iPad ever. We included on those iPads a couple interesting applications—a conference application, which put all the materials you typically get at a conference on the device, but also a directory of all the other people at the conference, with photos. We could push video and photos to the device during the meeting and update things real time as the conference was happening.

The other application we piloted was the beginning of a virtual concierge idea. It allows our guests to order room service from the device, find out more information about the hotel, see all the information that is typically in a booklet on the desk in the hotel room—with rich video and audio and linked right into the property management system at the hotel.

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Hospitality Industry Green Issues: Hotel Group Achieves “LEED Volume Precertification” For Its “Green Engage” Program Making Hotels 15% To 20% More Energy Efficient

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) the world’s largest hotel group by number of rooms, today announces that its in-house sustainability system Green Engage* has been awarded with a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) volume precertification established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). IHG has become the first hotel company to receive this award for an existing hotels programme, further cementing its place as an industry leader in the field of sustainability.

The USGBC’s LEED rating system is the preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Volume precertification is a preliminary step that provides a streamlined path to LEED certification for a large group of hotels based on a preapproved prototype and process.

  • In the US alone, an average hotel has in excess of $500,000 in energy expenses every year.
  • On average, energy is the second largest cost in hotels and our hotel owners want help to manage this.
  • Green Engage can deliver over $90,000 in annual energy savings by making hotels 15% to 20% more energy efficient.
  • Additionally, Green Engage helps owners respond to the growing interest from guests who are looking for sustainable hotels that manage their environmental footprint.

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Filed under Green Lodging, Guest Issues, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology, Training

Hospitality Industry Payment Systems Risk: Process, Controls & Instrumentation (PCI) Compliance In America Must Address “More Secure Methods Of Payment Authorization”

“…more incentives (should be) put in place to encourage more secure methods of payment authorization. One example of this is the “chip and PIN” system in use outside of the United States. In this system, credit cards use a tiny PIN-activated microchip that protects payment information...”

“As it stands, virtually every Western and Eastern nation have migrated to this (system)…which countries haven’t? Iran and the U.S.”

Data security also is going to be a major focus at this year’s Hospitality Law Conference.

Right now, liability is on the merchants’ side of things but not on the payment systems, and that has to change, said Cannon, who is counsel to the Merchants Payment Coalition.

“Right now, all liability runs downhill and at the bottom is the merchants’ coalition and, partially, the hospitality industry,” he said.

The federal government is reviewing the issue of data security liability and could potentially come up with a new way of assigning liability by 21 July of this year.

“In terms of the regulatory process, this is the speed of light,” Cannon said.

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Filed under Conferences, Crime, Guest Issues, Insurance, Liability, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology

Hotel Industry Health Risks: Hotels Owners Must Act To Eliminate “Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS) Including “Inadequate Ventilation”, Indoor And Outdoor “Chemical Contaninants” And Biological Contamination

“Sick Building Syndrome” (SBS) is defined as building occupants experiencing acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.

  • Inadequate ventilation: ASHRAE recently revised its ventilation standard to provide a minimum of 15 cfm of outdoor air per person in non-smoking areas. ASHRAE is attempting to balance energy consumption with an adequate IAQ. If you have an existing hotel, an engineered study of ventilation will give you all of the information you need to make adjustments as needed.
  • Chemical contaminants: Research clearly shows that V.O.C.’s (volatile organic compounds) can cause chronic and acute health effects at even low concentrations, and many V.O.C.’s are known carcinogens. This is why LEED standards address V.O.C.’s as found in adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, manufactured wood products, copy machines, pesticides and cleaning agents. Your “green” advisor can assist with low or no V.O.C. options for your hotel. can provide all of the details you need.
  • Chemical contaminants from outdoor sources: This includes motor vehicle exhaust, plumbing vents and building exhausts (from kitchens or bathrooms, for example) and combustion products from a parking garage. Air intake vents must be carefully located to avoid these sources of contamination.
  • Biological contamination: These include bacteria, molds, pollen and viruses. Unfortunately, hoteliers are all too familiar with the history of hotel-borne Legionnaire’s Disease, and as such, must be vigilant in testing our cooling towers and indoor decorative fountains.

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