By Justin Reese

While there are risks to the trendy amenities taking the hospitality industry by storm – like swimming with dolphins, para-sailing, or combat paintball – it’s the basic hazards like slips, trips and falls (STF) in hotel bathrooms, on sidewalks and curbs or parking lot ramps that are really the issue. Even though they’re preventable, STFs drive a lot of insurance claims – and those costs can add up.

The Hospitality Institute 2017 report on Common Loss Drivers looked at general liability claims totaling more than $10 million by more than 7,000 hotel operators. Slips, trips and falls claims comprised the largest share, 40 percent, with non-bathroom slips comprising 12 percent of claims and bathroom slips and falls accounting for 11 percent of claims.

The stories behind the statistics drive home the point -- the everyday hazards that can trigger a slip, trip and fall claim are preventable. One of the larger jury awards in an STF case was a $38 million judgment against a Newport Beach, California. hotel over a guest who fell over a second story walkway railing onto the parking lot below. While the man was found to be inebriated, the hotel was at fault for having a railing that was less than three feet in height and violating a building code requirement.

Preventing STF accidents takes a proactive approach of regularly assessing identifiable hazards that can be controlled or replaced and training staff to recognize those hazards and ensuring they understand their roles in mitigating risk.

Among the areas of the hotel where slip, trip and fall claims are made with the greatest frequency and ways to guard against hazards include: 

  • Guest Baths. Slips and falls come with the territory for guest bathrooms, of course, and it’s worth noting that this is one of the few areas remaining in the hotel without security cameras (as a way to double-check claims). But any way you look at it, you’re remiss if you haven’t equipped them with slip-resistant bath mats or applied such a treatment to the tub or shower floor. Properly placed handrails/grab-bars are another fail-safe measure. If you’ve upgraded to walk-in showers, doors that open inward are the better safety option.
  • Swimming pools, saunas, whirlpools. Indoor or outdoor, these are a natural STF danger. Post house rules on safety (with “no running” and “no diving” in big red letters). Floors with non-slip surfaces will also go a long way toward cutting accidents down.
  • Exterior locations. A cracked sidewalk or curb might not seem like much, but can pose a trip hazard for someone who’s distracted. Similarly, it’s important to have outdoor ramps to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, but they must be moderately angled for safety and carefully maintained during periods of rain, snow and ice. Exterior doors should be well lit, and be covered with slip-resistant mats placed inside and outside that are regularly replaced to guard against slick floors.
  • Lobby and common areas. Among common hazards are mats and carpeting that are bunched or worn – and should be checked and replaced routinely. Tile floors and non-carpeted stairs can be dangerous when water is tracked in or liquid spilled; slip resistant surfaces can head off issues. Doors should allow visibility to the other side, and the right lighting will also minimize accidents – like side lights on doors and indirect lighting by elevators. Proper maintenance and hazard signage and a proactive approach can go a long way. 

Slips, trips and falls may be inevitable hazards in a public place like a hotel. But they can be managed if you have a consistent program in place to monitor and control the most likely sources of problems.

HUB International’s team of brokers is available to work with you in understanding and managing risk and insurance issues at your organization.