Hospitality sector needs a sheq program

Pieter Lotz, MD of Cygma SHEQ unpacks the risks in the hospitality sector.
Pieter Lotz, MD of Cygma SHEQ unpacks the risks in the hospitality sector.

Pieter Lotz, Managing Director of Cygma SHEQ  explains the various  duties of an owner or operator of an hospitality undertaking, “to ensure a safe and healthy working environment in the hospitality sector. Everyone has health and safety duties and responsibilities which are clearly outlined in Sections 8, 13 and 14 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993.”

The tourism industry contributes around 3% of the South African GDP with more than 14 million international visitors every year. The Hospitality sector forms an integral part of the tourism industry and includes businesses offering accommodation, food and entertainment. Other tourism activities include international air travel and general transportation.

With these visitors numbers, one can clearly see the high risk to an hospitality sector undertaking and it involves more than what meets the eye.

Hazards in Hospitality sectorWhen we think health and safety, we immediately think “employees”. But the hospitality sector does not only face risks from injury and illness to employees, but also their patrons or visitors.


We encounter a number of specific hazards on a daily basis without giving it a thought;

Manual Handling
Hazards from making beds, moving furniture to clean, carrying heavy loads, stretching to clean under or reach that high shelf.

Musculoskeletal injuries can last a life time, isn’t it worth the effort to train or be trained in safe handling methods?Manual handling in hospitality sector

Ask for help, do not try to go it alone, as much as it might hurt your ego.

Ever tried to turn a King Size mattress alone?

Slips trips and falls
Do Junior or Dad’s toys on the stairs, electrical cords strung across the floor to use the vacuum, wet floors and stairs, spillages sound familiar?.

Identify the high risk areas, and follow the golden rule of good housekeeping;

A place for everything, and everything in its place always.

A variety of electrical appliances are used daily. When was the last time that we even looked at an electrical cord or plug before we used an appliance? Complacency kills.electricity in hospitality sector

Have a look; is your business child safe?

Drain cleaning chemicals, oven cleaners, bleach, disinfectants, Dad’s fire starters, fuel for the lawn mower and other flammable materials, the list goes on.

Make sure that chemicals are stored in their original packaging where possible, if not; mark the containers with clear legible labels. Keep hazardous chemicals out of reach of children.chemicals in hospitality sector

Too many children have died from drinking kerosene decanted into soft drink and water bottles.

Knowing the chemical is half the battle won, read the label. Make sure you know the safe handling methods and first aid measures required in the case of accidental exposure.

Store chemicals away from food stuffs, DO NOT keep insecticides and pesticides in the food cupboard.

Decant chemicals safely, avoid sticking a hose in your mouth and try to siphon chemicals, including fuel, from a container. This is just not the safe way.

Hot Surfaces
How many times have we tried to pick up a pot, pan or grill, just to find out too late, it is too HOT to handle. “No one loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, because it is pain”

Invest in “cool” handled appliances, wear gloves or oven mitts to protect from burns.

If you think it is too hot to handle then it probably is.

Sharp Objects
The department of labour suggests the following simple rules for knife safety:


Be aware of sharp edges when handling broken glass, ceramics, crockery etc. It is also a good idea to dispose of broken glassware safely by wrapping it with newspaper before placing it in the bin. This will help to protect refuse handlers down the line.

Lone Work
Employers must ensure that a safe system of work is maintained while persons are required to work without supervision and not be exposed to undue harm while carrying out their duties.

Systems must be put in place to cater for domestic workers who often have to carry out their duties alone without supervision.

  • Make employees aware of the safety and security hazards associated with their duties.
  • Ensure that there is effective communication available during emergencies
  • Provide safe emergency evacuation from the premises and ensure the employee is aware of the procedure
  • Ensure that there is at least a fully stocked first aid kit in the house
  • Employees must be able to administer basic first aid, etc.

The list of hazards discussed above is by no means exhaustive, but gives us an idea of the scale of the problem.

Advice for the Hospitality Sector

Every employer must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to employees, contractors and the public (visitors).

To adhere to this requirement, a simple process can be very useful in keeping your doors open:

The employer is required to:

  • Identify hazards and evaluate risks
  • Take steps to eliminate all hazards before resorting to PPE
  • Provide and maintain a safe system of work
  • Provide information, training and supervision
  • Provide the means to apply safety measures
  • Not permit employees to work unsafely
  • Enforce health and safety measures at work
  • Ensure that every person on the premises obeys the act
  • Ensure that supervisors have work to related safety training
  • Empower supervisors with authority

Sources: Department of Labour, Stats SA, Cygma SHEQ

About the author: Pieter Lotz is an experienced Safety professional and have recently returned from Nigeria. He is the Managing Director of Cygma SHEQ SA (Pty)Ltd and also runs the Northern Region operation of Cygma SHEQ North. Visit their website for more information  to develop or improve your safety programme in the Hospitality Industry. Pieter can be contacted directly at the Polokwane office on 015 101 0513.





























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