Providing emergency devices for unionized hospitality workers, in particular housekeepers, has been the law in New York City since 2013. ¹
Lone worker protection for New York City Hotel staff
In early 2012 The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO, (Hotel Trades Council for short) for New York City fought in contract negotiations to have panic buttons issued to hotel workers who work in guest rooms. The Hotel Association of New York approved the devices in February of 2012. ²
This came about after two incidents in the city where housekeepers were assaulted by prominent guests. In the Sofitel a housekeeper claimed she was assaulted by former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn ³ and two weeks after at the Pierre, where a Egyptian businessman sexually abused a maid, ⁴
At both hotels management agreed to give housekeepers panic buttons after meeting with union officials. ⁵
State Assemblyman Rory Lancman introduced a bill in the New York state legislature in 2011 calling for panic buttons, this however was not passed. He was happy with the inclusion of panic buttons in the new contracts, “It’s an important but simple step to protect housekeepers from assault,” Lancman said. ⁶
Which lone workers received Panic buttons?
Employers would be required to give panic buttons to any hotel worker entering an occupied guest room– from mini-bar attendants to room service waiters or waitresses to enable them to summon help immediately in case of an emergency. ⁷
John Turchiano, spokesman for the New York Hotel Trades Council, the union representing more than 30,000 hotel workers in the area stated, “It’s unfortunate but there are instances when guests behave inappropriately, this would be a really good way to cut down on that and give our members strong protections.” ⁸
Hotels were given one year until July 1st 2013 to comply. ⁹
What is a lone worker panic button?
A panic button is a portable emergency contact device an employee carries on his or her person that can be quickly and easily activated to summon prompt assistance by a hotel security officer, manager or other designated staff member.
When activated, the panic button must effectively summon prompt on-scene assistance to the employee’s precise location.
Panic buttons and notification devices must be provided at no cost to the employee.
Panic button safety solutions for lone workers
There are many panic buttons and lone worker solutions available for hotel workers that enable them to go about their day safely. One such solution is Ok Alone, the lone worker safety solution from Trusty Ox Systems.
Ok Alone’s lone worker safety app runs on a worker’s smart phone and allows them to check in at regular intervals or request help if they need it. The ‘Help Button’ sends an alert to a hotel security officer or manager that the worker needs immediate assistance and needs to be contacted. This button can be pushed manually or triggered using voice commands. Ok Alone’s lone worker solution has GPS capabilities that can locate a worker if they activate the ‘help’ alert.
Through the app, a supervisor, manager or security personnel, will be notified if a worker requests immediate assistance, making sure to keep in line with Union regulations.
Features of Ok Alone Safety Solution
Ok Alone also has features that allow lone workers to contact their supervisors directly. Workers have the option of sending a written or voice message directly to the person monitoring their safety.
Workers are able to change the frequency of their check ins with the ‘high-risk’ feature. If a worker enters an area where they feel vulnerable, such as delivering room service in the middle of the night, they can reduce the check in time to as little as 10 minutes. After the time has passed with no alerts, the check in frequency will return to the original count down duration.
The Ok Alone smartphone app works in conjunction with a website and dashboard that can be used on a pc, laptop, tablet or another smartphone. The online dashboard will display a map supplying the person monitoring their safety with the workers last known location if an alert is triggered. This will allow help to be sent to the correct location at a moment’s notice and help lone workers feel safe throughout their day.