The festive season remains the hospitality sector’s busiest time of year and more guests through the door often means an increase in business risk factors.  Accurately assessing exposures and taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of guests and the establishment, is a vital contributor to seamless operations and maintaining the festive cheer.

Here are five top tips from Cloud Saungweme, Chief Claims Officer and Lana Mizen, Head of Hospitality at Bryte Insurance, to ensure uninterrupted celebrations this festive season:

Tip 1: Routine maintenance

Simple maintenance is among the most beneficial investments that businesses can make; checking, servicing and testing equipment/installations such as operational systems, alarm systems, panic buttons, smoke detectors, geysers, etc. are among the easiest checks and balances. Looking at smoke detectors specifically, some important points to note, include:

  • Testing detectors monthly and replacing at the recommended intervals.
  • Checking for any build-up or cobwebs around the detectors and ensuring these remain unobstructed.

Tip 2: Eradicating hazards, preventing blazes

Failing to eradicate potential fire hazards can lead to business interruption and severe losses.

  • Employees should be trained to ensure that firefighting equipment is serviced and easily accessible, emergency contact lists are updated and that the surrounding environment is “risk proofed” (especially when repair work such as welding is being undertaken).
  • With the likelihood of kitchen fires being generally higher, the regular servicing of filters and extractor fans should feature among the maintenance priorities.
  • Within the festive context, while beautiful decorations may seem harmless, these could easily become a hazard if not carefully checked and placed. Decorations could obstruct smoke detectors, security cameras and emergency signage while fairy lights could overheat, causing a fire.

Tip 3: Elevating generators to lower risk

The likelihood of flash flooding during this time of year, increases and with many establishments storing their generators in basements, these are more susceptible to flooding.

  • It is vital to ensure generators are elevated to avoid contact with water and are stored in a well-ventilated room to avoid possible combustion/carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • All generators should be installed by professionals – in accordance with the prescribed standards – and serviced biannually.
  • Lubricant oil and filters, for example, should be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and fuel stored in a safe area.

Tip 4: Avoid being watered-down

With water outages and lowered water pressure a consequence of the ongoing drought, a contingency plan for backup (high-pressure) water sources is a critical consideration. Not only does this help the smooth running of the establishment in the event of an outage but also provides safeguards should a fire break out. Additionally, establishments should encourage guests to use water responsibly and check that taps are closed during water outages to avoid possible flooding once the water has returned.

Tip 5: Uninsured or underinsured

Not having a clear view of potential risks or overlooking these can be a cause for immense financial loss especially at this time of the year when hospitality businesses are operating at peak capacity.

  • To maintain the joyous spirit and ensure a fun, safe and special festive experience for guests, every establishment should consult a competent risk engineer to comprehensively determine business/customer exposures and recommend appropriate risk mitigation measures.
  • Making matters worse, underinsurance is among the key challenges facing many South African businesses. Often, policy reviews are neglected, resulting in many items being uninsured or underinsured. This inattention can seriously compromise the business’ ability to recover should an incident occur (such as a widespread fire and injuries to guests due to a gas explosion) or a high value claim be made against the business (such as a claim for a serious slip and fall injury or replacement of expensive designer clothing/jewellery).

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Michelle Lopes2018 insights