Are Your Hotels Prepared to Meet Panic Button Requirements?
Are your hotels prepared to meet panic button requirements? Numerous cities and states have passed hotel panic button laws that require hotels to provide employees with safety devices/panic buttons. Major hotel brands have also developed panic button brand requirements as a part of the AHLA’s 5-Star promise. Hotel brands like Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott International have set deadlines for their properties to become compliant with hotel panic button requirements by 2022/2023. Hotel panic button deadlines are quickly approaching, and hotels must act swiftly to ensure that their properties are compliant.
Hotel Panic Button Legislations
Many states including Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and numerous cities such as Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle have passed laws requiring hotels to provide employees with safety devices/panic buttons as a safety measure. Each city/state has a specific deadline by which hotels are required to implement their employee safety system and have also set specific guidelines as to what constitutes as a panic button device.
Although hotel panic button requirements differ depending on the city or state, most have similar requirements as to what constitutes as a hotel panic button device. Panic button devices should have the ability to provide precise location information down to the exact floor and room number and as the location changes, panic button devices should send updates in real time. This will allow security personnel to locate the distressed employee within seconds or minutes of an emergency alert.
Los Angeles Panic Button Requirements
Los Angeles recently passed the Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance, the law became effective on August 12, 2022, and require hotels to provide panic button devices to hotel employees who work in guestrooms or employees who work alone in restrooms. Hotels with more than 60 guestrooms are required to assign a dedicated security personnel to receive and immediately respond to panic button alerts. Hotels with less than 60 guestrooms may assign a supervisor or a manager to respond to panic button alerts.
Like many other cities and states, hotels in Los Angeles are also required to post signs on the inside of guestroom doors notifying guests that panic buttons are in use by hotel employees. Mandatory annual training is also required on the use and maintenance of panic button devices and the proper protocols to respond to panic button alerts. Hotels with less than 60 guestrooms require a minimum of three hours of training regarding the use and maintenance of panic button devices. The ordinance also limits the workload for guestroom attendants, by basing workload on the square feet of floor space within an eight-hour workday. Hotels must also receive written consent from employees who wish to work more than 10 hours within a workday.
What are Los Angeles hotel panic button device requirements?
Los Angeles hotels require that hotel panic button devices be portable, devices must provide the precise location of the employee in distress and must alert the designated security personnel or manager who will provide immediate assistance.
Seattle, Washington Panic Button Requirements
Seattle, Washington’s Hotel Employees Safety Ordinance became effective on July 1, 2022. The ordinance requires hotels or motels with 60 or more guestrooms or an ancillary hotel business of any size, to provide panic button devices to employees assigned to work in guestrooms or employees who make deliveries to guestrooms. A panic button device is a safety measure intended to help hotels prevent and respond to assaults, harassment, non-consensual sexual contact, and indecent exposure, which hotel staff all over the country have been subjected to.
What are Seattle hotel panic button device requirements?
- Panic button devices should be easily activated by a single action like a push, pull or tap. They must provide a sustained signal without delays caused by entering passwords or waiting for the system to turn on.
- When panic buttons are activated, the signal is effective for the circumstances (e.g., designated personnel will be able to detect it regardless of their location and distinguish it from other audible or visual alarms and noise from vacuum cleaners and other sources.)
- Panic button devices should be designed to summon immediate assistance and enable responders to accurately provide reliable locations down to room-level accuracy of where the distress signal originated.
- Devices should consistently work in all locations, on all shifts and the activation of one device should not obscure the activation of other devices.
- The device should minimize unintentional activation and resist possible disabling by attackers.
Panic Buttons vs Noise Makers
Panic buttons or noise makers, which device is most effective at keeping employees safe? Some hotels have opted to purchase noise makers, which are devices that when pressed emit an ear-piercing sound. Although noise makers are extremely inexpensive when compared to other devices, they do not alert hotel security personnel or give the location of the employee in distress and the sound emitted can be drowned out by television or cleaning equipment noise.
When panic button devices are pressed, an emergency alert is sent out to designated hotel personnel and the device provides the location of the employee in distress, down to the precise floor and room number. Panic buttons are designed to send alerts in real time and if the employee in distress changes location, updates are continuously sent, allowing responders to locate the employee within seconds or minutes.
Panic buttons can also be configured to alert designated hotel security personnel or emergency responders in the event of a medical emergency. Hotel panic button devices will continuously send out alerts until the issue has been resolved.
Panic Button Key Advantages
- Panic buttons can be configured to send emergency alerts to predetermined emergency contacts or to local authorities.
- Panic buttons transmit locations down to the precise floor and room number where the distress signal originated.
- Information is sent in real time and is updated if the employee in distress changes location.
- Panic button systems support two-way communication.
Noise Maker Disadvantages
- Noise makers do not send emergency alerts or provide location details to hotel security personnel.
- Noise makers can be drowned out by television noise or cleaning equipment like vacuums.
- Building materials such as concrete floors and ceilings reduce sound by as much as 70 decibels.
- Drywall and other construction can also reduce sound by as much as 40 decimals.