In July of 2018 Miami Beach became one of the growing number of cities, counties and states to introduce protective legislation for lone working hotel/hospitality employees.
Legislation for Lone workers in Miami Beach hotels
There are an estimated 11,500 housekeepers employed in Miami-Dade County, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a majority of them work in Miami Beach, the centre of the region’s $25 billion tourism industry.¹
Hotel and hostel employees are vital contributors to the community of the City of Miami Beach, and the hospitality industry is a profitable and important component of the City’s economy that receives substantial taxpayer support. Miami Beach officials recognise that due to the unique nature of their work, including work performed alone (or alone with a guest) in a guest room, certain hotel and hostel employees are subjected to a higher risk of harassment and violence on the job. As a vast majority of hotel and hostel employees are women, the safety and harassment risks within the hospitality industry are of greater concern. Through adopting certain workplace safety protections, the hospitality industry can improve the personal safety and security of hotel and hostel employees.²
Before the ordinance was passed it went through additional revisions, where City officials amended the reference to a “safety” instead of “panic” button. They also revised the type of employees to which safety buttons must be provided, and therefore amended the effective date from January 1st 2019 to August 1st, 2019 to allow additional time for compliance. ³
The ordinance was officially signed on the 25th of July 2018, where the Miami Beach City Commission passed Chapter 62 of the Code of the City Miami Beach, Article VI, Protection of Hotel and Hostel Employees from Assault and Sexual Harassment.
What devices are required for hotel lone workers?
The legislative intent of Article VI is to protect certain hotel and hostel employees in the hospitality industry from violent assault, including sexual assault, and sexual harassment. ⁴
Hotel owners must provide a safety button or notification device to each hotel or hostel employee that is a room attendant, housekeeping attendant, minibar attendant or room service server. ⁵
Within the ordinance Miami Beach commissioners define a “safety button” or “notification device” as,
‘a portable emergency contact device that is designed so that an employee can quickly and easily activate such button or device to effectively summon prompt assistance to the employee’s location by a hotel or hostel security officer, manager or other appropriate hotel or hostel staff member designated by the hotel or hostel employer.’ ⁶
The ordinance states that due to the varying size and physical layout of each hotel, different devices may be appropriate for different hotels. ⁷ However, all safety buttons/notification devices must be provided by the hotel or hostel employer at no cost to the employee.
If hotel owners do not comply with the ordinance, they will be given a written warning. If they are in violation again within six months, they will be fined $500.00. If a hotel owner violates the ordinance again in the preceding six months, they will be fined $1000.00 and 2000.00 for every violation after that. ⁸
Safety Buttons/ Notification Devices
There are many panic buttons and lone worker solutions available for Miami Beach hotel owners to purchase to keep their lone workers safe. One such solution is Ok Alone, the lone worker safety solution from Trusty Ox Systems.
Through the app, an employee can use the safety button or notification device if they believe there is an ongoing crime, harassment, or other emergency in their presence.
The solution will alert a security officer, manager or other appropriate staff member designated by the employer who is responsible for providing immediate on-scene assistance, keeping in line with Chapter 62 of the Code of the City Miami Beach, Article VI, Protection of Hotel and Hostel Employees from Assault and Sexual Harassment.
No lone worker solution is as simple and easy to use as Ok Alone’s lone worker safety app which runs on a worker’s smart phone. The solution allows workers to check in at regular intervals or request help if they need it. The ‘Help Button’ sends an alert to whichever appropriate staff member has been designated by the employer, letting them know the lone worker needs immediate assistance and needs to be contacted. This button can be pushed manually or triggered using voice commands. The system has GPS capabilities that can locate a worker if they activate the ‘help’ alert.
Ok Alone’s Safety Features
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.
Lone workers can change the frequency of their check ins with the ‘high-risk’ feature. If a worker enters an area where they feel vulnerable, such as restocking the mini bar in an occupied room, 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 those monitoring the worker with their last known location if an alert is triggered. This will allow help to be sent to the correct location when it is really needed and give lone workers confidence that they are not really alone.