The Push for Panic Buttons
With statistics like that echoed around the country, it’s clear that the hospitality industry is facing a security crisis. Workers need better protection and employers are now on the line to find solutions. A number of cities have taken action and passed ordinances requiring employers to provide their staff with panic buttons. We dive into the risks of the job and rewards of protection.
The hospitality industry is particularly exposed to social risk. Hotel housekeepers regularly report sexual and verbal harassment and abuse. In a recent survey of hotel hospitality staff members in Chicago, 49% said that guests have exposed their genitals to them. With this risk in mind, many cities have begun to require hotels to equip staff members with panic buttons. Chicago, New York, Seattle, and Miami have all passed regulations with Las Vegas and Sacramento hot on their heels and still figuring out the details. In the case of a verbally abusive or sexually suggestive guest, these devices can mean the difference between a threat escalating into an incident.
These buttons not only allow workers to feel supported and secure when entering a guest’s room, but in some cases also provide the employer a fuller picture of the incident and audio evidence when needed. Now employee and employer don’t need to engage in what can be a tricky he said she said situation, they can simply review the event audio and take appropriate action. Implementing panic buttons allows hotel management to not only provide support to their staff, but also to mitigate the business risk that comes along with having lone workers in a hotel setting. So, how exactly do these buttons work?
A One-touch Solution
For many, the thought of a panic button calls to mind an elderly woman and her famous line, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” In fact, panic button technology has made significant strides forward and expanded into the world of worker protection. Originally a panic button was a one-way alert to a monitoring center simply notifying them that someone had pushed it. Operators would then work at getting in touch with the person to dispatch emergency services or confirm that it was a false alarm. Many of these services relied on the user to be reached by phone. During an emergency, a phone is simply not a reliable way to connect. In the case of attack, a phone is not discreet which could easily escalate aggression, and in the case of incapacitation, a user may be non-responsive or unable to reach a phone. For hotel housekeepers, a phone may not be kept on their person and could be very difficult to get to in an emergency.
New technologies have brought increased functionality and form factors to these personal safety devices. Now, you can get a panic button that is light, discreet, and easy to use. For instance, the SoloProtect ID employs an ID badge form factor that can be worn around the neck or as a lapel or belt clip. It’s simply part of the uniform. When tensions rise there is no need to run to a cart or fish a button out of your pocket, the personal safety device is with you always so that in moments of an aggressor does not know you’re calling for help. A simple press of the “Red Alert” button ensures that a highly trained Monitoring Center staff member is ready to help, whatever the need, as they are listening to and recording live audio of the incident. This can mean all the difference by not heightening the tension and danger to the user, as well as providing audio evidence should the need for litigation arise. The Monitoring Center Operator is quickly and properly escalating the emergency alerting a manager or security to go by and check on them and if necessary sending the police to their location directly. In the case of the SoloProtect ID, using the “Red Alert” function also engages the device’s geolocation feature using GNSS to get a location fix so that, should the staff member need help, they are easy to locate. The SoloProtect ID Pro specifies even further offering room level location and live streaming video for greater clarity of events and video evidence to help protect employees and employers alike.
Hospitality is at the heart of the hotel industry. From the front desk to the bellman, waitstaff to housekeeping, they build the lasting impression that keeps customers coming back. Lawmakers around the country are beginning to take note that they need better protection and employers are stepping up to provide a proactive solution. When employers make worker safety a priority, departments and customers reap the benefits of a secure and supported work environment. Reach out to SoloProtect at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866.632.6577 to find out if a panic button might work to help you keep your employees safe.