Reopening Hospitality in California

During the COVID pandemic, hotels have faced unprecedented challenges to remain operational and keep their staff employed. The time to reopen finally seems to be here, but as a result of leaner teams and fewer staff on guestroom floors, hotels must revisit the implementation of safety buttons to empower their employees when they work alone and to promote a more robust safety culture in their hotels.

To help hoteliers with this assessment, and to clarify often conflicting legislation, we have summarized the safety button requirements of five local California ordinances below and have also highlighted three specific requirements that hotels should pay attention to as they select their vendors to provide this important service.

Summary of Key Requirements

  • Type of Safety Button: The type of permitted devices can vary between states and even cities. For example, while some jurisdictions only permit a device that can provide the employee’s location, other jurisdictions, such as Sacramento County, have declared sound alarms to be acceptable.
  • Categories of Employees: While various jurisdictions have specified which employees are required to carry the safety buttons, Long Beach, Oakland and Santa Monica require that any employee assigned to work in a guestroom or restroom alone must have safety buttons. Meanwhile, the City of Sacramento and Sacramento County require any employee assigned to work in those designated areas to carry safety buttons, even if they are not alone. However, in all of the listed cities, anyone assigned to work in a guestroom is required to carry a safety button. As a result, the question arises whether an engineer conducting repairs in a specific room or a bellman assigned to pick up luggage from a certain room, have been assigned to work in that room.
  • Type of Response—Immediate On-Scene vs. Employee’s Location: This is the most important requirement regulations. It determines the kind of safety button that would be acceptable. “Immediate on-scene” assistance implies that the safety button must be capable of providing exact location of the employee in distress. In Sacramento County, this can be confusing as it poses the question—‘Is a sound alarm capable of communicating the exact location to enable staff to provide immediate on-scene assistance?’ Possibly, depending on the specific scenario.

On the other hand, the requirement that the device provide “employee’s location” is somewhat vague because “employee’s location” may mean general location (i.e. same floor) or more specific (within a two rooms radius). The term appears to allow for some flexibility in allowing hotels to determine which devices they can deploy. However, some jurisdictions that allow for “employee’s location” have required a solution that provides “exact location” during inspections. Therefore, given the current focus on safety, the prudent decision may be to deploy a solution that provides exact room location when a safety button is activated.

In implementing safety buttons, hotels must also consider relevant brand requirements. Some brands, such as Hyatt and Hilton, allow sound alarms where they are permitted by the regulations, but a majority of brands require location-enabled solutions. These solutions must provide location of the employee within 1–2 room radius, require coverage not only in guestrooms and restrooms but other areas such as spas, housekeeping landings and storage areas, and require that, at minimum, housekeepers and spa workers be provided with safety buttons. However, where city or state requirements have more stringent requirements, the brands require that hotels must comply with the higher standard.

Utility of Accurate Systems

Not all panic button systems are designed equally, with more precise systems offering additional solutions that provide increased control over operational efficiency through services such as room tray, vendor and inventory tracking. More recently, in post-COVID times, real-time location IoT platforms can take on a dual role by capturing data about sanitation protocols and contacts. Systems, such as TraknProtect’s new TraknKleen, captures data to provide verification of compliance with cleanliness protocols and enables hoteliers to share that important reassurance with incoming guests and corporate travelers.

About TraknProtect
TraknProtect is the only safety button solution specifically designed for hospitality. TraknProtect’s patented award-winning technology not only meets but exceeds regulatory and brand requirements by providing exact-room location when a safety button is activated. The solution was developed based on extensive feedback from housekeepers and hoteliers to utilize a single-activation button and provide alerts through multiple means such as text and push notifications. TraknProtect is the only solution to utilize a single platform to provide safety buttons as well as operational efficiency through solutions such as room tray, vendor and inventory tracking.

Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or interpretation of legal requirements. Any use of this article is for personal use only.