Are you Prepared to Handle an Emergency Spill Response?

By Maricha Ellis VP of Marketing & Sales Operations, Stericycle Environmental Solutions | July 16, 2017

With the summer storm season upon us, it's especially important for hotels to be prepared for hazardous waste emergencies caused by severe weather. Preparation for such events is crucial for safely and compliantly handling emergency spills.

Not only is proactive planning for environmental emergencies valuable from a compliance standpoint, but it can help minimize the damage inflicted within your hotel and the surrounding area, as well as reduce the risk to the health of your guests and staff members. Taking action to prepare your property and staff in the event of severe inclement weather and other common environmental emergencies can also minimize cleanup costs. By following a few simple precautions and educating yourself on some of the most common environmental emergency circumstances that can take place on hotel properties, you can make a concerted effort to reduce the damages and expenses that can result from these events.

While there are a multitude of environmental emergencies that can occur at your hotel, some situations are more likely to occur than others. Natural disasters, flooding, container leaks, fuel spills and unknown substance handling are the five most common environmental emergency circumstances you may find yourself managing the response efforts for in your hotel.

Natural Disasters

To mitigate the risks of injury, damage to the surrounding areas and environmental harm, a successful emergency response plan and team should be in place, ready to be enacted at any time a natural disaster should occur. There are several factors that must be considered when devising an emergency response plan in anticipation of a storm or other severe weather events. From standard best practices such as moving or securing all hazardous chemicals prior to the arrival of severe weather to completing the mandatory paperwork and reporting following the cleanup, there are many precautions and elements that should be considered and prepared for accordingly.

Natural disasters often result in fuel, chemical and other hazardous substances being spilled into air, land and water. However, advance preparation in anticipation of a major storm or weather emergency can go a long way in reducing the damage, time and costs associated with emergency response cleanups. For the hazardous waste that cannot be removed prior to the arrival of the severe weather, there are several safety precautions to follow when securing the materials that will remain on site. Solids and powders can be covered in plastic and secured properly, and the correct lids should be securely fastened on containers. Containment areas should be set up and properly cleaned. Known waste areas should also be cleared out in advance of a major weather event.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.