You may think that you are free from responsibility if your spa service is independently operated, but your hotel's reputation could suffer following an incident. Pat Perry, strategic adviser at Hygenesis, explains
Spa and beauty treatments have become big business. Many hotel guests will choose to stay at a hotel because of its spa facilities, including beauty treatments, hairdressing and nail treatments.
But do you know what's lurking in your spa? Could your hotel's well-earned reputation be ruined by a compensation claim and media publicity for injuries to clients? Even if the spa and beauty business is franchised or independently operated, your hotel is where people come to stay and they will assume that the spa is part of your business.
The hazards associated with spa and beauty treatment centres include:
- Legionnaires' disease
- Cryptosporidium infections (water bacteria)
- Slips and trips
- Skin burns and skin irritations
- Allergic reactions to products
- Facial paralysis
- Employee stress and fatigue
- Risks of sexual abuse/aggression
Hazards can affect both customers and operators. The law requires that the health, safety and wellbeing of employees and others is protected.
The spa area, treatment rooms, hairdressing salon and nail bar must all be included in a regular audit of the hotel's facilities. Don't assume that because it may not be "your" business it can be left to its own devices. Remember the maxim: "the uninspected inevitably deteriorates".
Be interested in your spa operator and the treatments they offer. Should you find that the business is offering invasive cosmetic treatments then beware: this is a different risk factor to the traditional massage, wax and beauty treatments.
Take note of the recent case where a British woman died after a botched Brazilian bum lift operation at a Turkish clinic used by The Only Way Is Essex and Geordie Shore stars.
The consequences for getting any treatments wrong can be severe, so minimise the risk and act now to be in control of the services provided under your roof.
Hotel guest burnt by hot wax at hotel beauty salon
e hotel guest chose to stay at the hotel because it had a spa and beauty salon and booked a facial treatment through the hotel reception.
The facial waxing treatment, used to remove facial hair, was applied too hot and caused significant burns to the guest's lips. -
The therapist failed to carry out a temperature test before applying the wax.
The customer sued the hotel operator and the Civil Court found that the therapist had been negligent as she had failed to follow a safe procedure.
In addition, the hotel operator was investigated by the local authority and was served with an Improvement Notice under the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 for failing to have trained staff in safe procedures and for failing to have suitable and sufficient risk assessments.
The hotel also found that the local publicity affected its business as trade significantly declined.
What you need to look out for
The following will apply irrespective of whether the spa and beauty business is owned and operated by your hotel or by an independent operator or franchisee.
- Is the safety policy in place and up to date?
- Have hazards been identified? Have risk assessments been completed which reflect the business rather than generic risks?
- Is there an accident reporting procedure which includes near-miss reporting? What actions and follow-up activity happens after an accident or incident is reported?
- Is there a staff welfare policy which addresses hours of work, stress, musculoskeletal injuries, repetitive strain injuries, exposure to violence and overt sexual behaviour, exposure to chemical products, fumes etc?
- Is the spa pool/jacuzzi monitored for legionella bacteria and are processes in place to ensure compliance with the HSE guidelines on spa safety?
- Are chemicals and treatment products stored safely?
- What staff training records are available? How are staff kept up to date on new treatments, products and techniques?
- Is there a policy regarding product allergy?
- Is there a safeguarding policy for any vulnerable customers?
- Are staff prepared to manage slips and trips adequately and is there a wet floor/spillages policy?
- Is there a separate fire risk assessment for the spa and treatment rooms? Have procedures been put in place for providing customers with thermal clothing or protection should they need to evacuate the building in the middle of treatments or when using the spa?
- Does the operator have all the insurances in place and if necessary, are all local licences up to date and displayed if required?
- Does the operator and all staff members have membership of professional bodies or trade associations?
- Are procedures in place for electrical safety and for checking the safety of equipment?
- What infection control procedures are in place?
- If operating in Scotland is the business registered, if appropriate, with Healthcare Improvement Scotland?
Top tips for spa safety
- Consider the spa as part of your business.
- Conduct regular audits of the facilities.
- Check all the records and paperwork.
- Check that bespoke risk assessments are in place.
- Review the emergency procedures and check the fire risk assessment.
- Check that all staff and therapists are trained in all the therapies and treatments they provide and check that they are trained in the use of the equipment.
- Check that insurances, eg, public and employer liability, are in place.
- Monitor pool water and hygiene and follow HSE guidelines on spa safety.
- Check electrical and equipment safety.
- Monitor staff absences and wellbeing and look out for the signs of stress.
- Include the spa manager as part of the hotel management team and share information about safety and operating standards.
- Join a recognised accreditation scheme.
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