Combustible Cladding – Advice from Pitmans Law

Grenfell_Tower_fire_morningIn the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy it is not just the landlords of high rise council tower blocks and those in the public sector who should be concerned about the presence of combustible cladding in their buildings, writes Alan Davies, partner, Pitmans Law

Landlords of hotels and indeed of all premises in the hospitality and leisure industry have a duty to ensure that their premises are safe for all persons who use them and should be proactive in the ongoing compliance with their obligations. They should check the fire safety accreditation and building regulation compliance of any panelling used in their buildings and contact their surveyors or architects for advice.

If their premises contain cladding panels which are found to contain Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) or similar materials, they may not be compliant with the requirements of current Building Regulations guidance. Samples of any such materials can be provided for verification to independent testing facilities such as The Building Research Establishment (BRE).

If the materials are non-compliant, measures would include informing the local fire and rescue service requesting they carry out an urgent inspection and checking of the most recent fire risk assessment for the buildings concerned and considering action to have the panels removed.

In addition, as a matter of good practice, full fire safety checks should be implemented including ensuring that all entrance doors, and doors that open onto escape corridors and stairways, are fire resisting and effective in self-closing. Also check all walls, plant and store rooms to ensure there are no obvious routes for fire or smoke to spread such as holes where pipes and cables pass through walls.

Smoke control systems, including associated fire detection and suppression systems (including sufficient and appropriate fire extinguishers) should be tested to make sure they are operating correctly and if there is no sprinkler system, landlords are recommended to take advice on installation.

Contact:
Alan Davis

Partner, for and on behalf of Pitmans LLP
D +44 (0)118 957 0300
M +44 (0)788 182 5803
Email: alandavies@pitmans.com
www.pitmans.com

Pitmans Law is a Businesss Partner of the Institute of Hospitality

The Hospitality Pandemic – Are You Infected?

giles-g-s-for-iohThis blog comes from one of our newest members, Giles Gordon-Smith AIH, a former hotel inspector and manager at The Goring who now runs his own customer service consultancy Penshee. Giles is blogging on The Huffington Post, where the following first appeared.

Everything seemed to be going so well, and then it happened again. “ENJOY”. Nothing with it, other than perhaps an exclamation mark – “ENJOY!”. You’ve heard it too, right? You must have done, it’s everywhere; from London to LA and back again the long way around, that word echoes through our industry.

I know by now to try to block it out but occasionally one slips through the net like a cardamom pod in a biryani – Whack! ENJOY! Don’t let the Michelin star and the immaculately groomed waiter fool you either, a Swiss sommelier once hit me with one after decanting a rather fine bottle of claret and telling us a wonderful story about the owner of the house (who used to sit on table three). I nosed and tasted the perfectly poured measure and then he got me. “ENJOY!”

This was another good one – I was in a hotel in Istanbul and I’d asked for some shampoo to be sent to the room. The delivery interaction went something like this:

Friendly attendant: Good evening Mr. Gordon-Smith, I have the shampoo that you requested.
Me: Thank you, that’s kind.
Friendly attendant: Enjoy!

What? How? Okay, it was good shampoo and it left a pleasant scent of lime groves, but really. I even used to count them – fourteen ‘enjoys’ in a meal was the record (I won’t name and shame the hotel). Can a verbal tick be contagious, or worse still, pandemic? I get that it’s an easy thing to say and, your supervisor does it and it’s better than silence, but please, think about stopping.

It’s indicative of something bigger

Okay, I’m being playful, but actually I think that this innocuous and essentially well-meaning five letter word is reflective of something larger. Oh, and here’s my confession; I used to use it too. I wasn’t really even aware, but I did. It was only when it was pointed out to me by none other than my mother, that I started to realise the abandon with which I used the word.

Habitual behaviour can be a positive in hospitality; you need it to be prepared on a daily basis and to deliver service according to the expected rigorous standards. However, becoming too rehearsed by nature can have a negative effect. Repeatedly using terms such as ‘enjoy’ is reflective of a roboticism in the industry that is getting in the way of natural service. Variations include the over-use of affirmations such as ‘you’re welcome’ and ‘that’s fine’ (I should hope that it’s fine to ask for a menu) and superlatives such as ‘wonderful’ and ‘absolutely’ – especially bothersome when taken out of context and not relating to what you have just said as a guest. It also demonstrates lack of thought and a certain ‘presenteeism’ – being there, but going through the motions.

Am I Infected?

Given that I was unaware that I was using the term so much, perhaps you are too? Maybe you have your own verbal tick? The fact that you are now asking the question is a good start; after all, self-awareness is hugely important when trying to improve the way that we interact with guests, friends and colleagues.

If the answer is yes, what do we do about it?

The problem is that me telling you what to say as an alternative is paradoxical and so I’m not going to do that. What I would urge instead is to think. Look to be present in the moment when you are serving guests and where possible, make your comment relevant to what’s gone before in your interactions. By way of a compromise and to wean yourself off the shortened version, you could even revert to the fuller version “I hope you enjoy your scallops madam”, but don’t say it if you don’t mean it. As always, look to make eye contact and listen to the guest, and if they thank you for the dish, there’s your opportunity to respond in kind. This might sound like extraordinarily elementary advice, but take it from somebody who has been lucky enough to have had thousands of fine dining experiences around the world – it’s advice that’s needed. Your guests want to feel understood and appreciated, and you simply cannot do that by adopting a ‘one phrase fits all’ service mentality. Enj… Good luck.

Follow Giles Gordon-Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gilesatpenshee

 

 

 

Drop a dime on food crime with the FSA’s Food Crime Confidential

Do you suspect a business of dishonesty involving food, drink or animal feed? The NEW Food Crime Confidential is a reporting facility where anyone with suspicions about food crime can report them safely and in confidence, over the phone or through email.

Food Crime Confidential is overseen by the Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU), which works with partners to protect consumers from serious criminal activity that impacts on the safety or authenticity of the food and drink they consume.

The facility is particularly targeted at those working in or around the UK food industry. Employees of the hospitality industry are well-placed to provide information which could help the NFCU identify and pursue offenders.

The National Food Crime Unit would like to hear from anyone who has suspicions:

  • that food or drink contains things which it shouldn’t
  • that methods used in your workplace for producing, processing, storing, labelling or transporting food do not seem quite right
  • that an item of food or drink says it is of a certain quality or from a specific place or region, but it doesn’t appear to be.FoodCrimeConfidential

‘Drop a dime’ on suspicious activities: call 0207 276 8787 or email foodcrime@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

Anti-terrorist lessons for hospitality managers

Understanding how to Run, Hide and Tell could save lives
Understanding how to Run, Hide and Tell could save lives

Terrorist attacks on ‘soft targets’ such as restaurants, hotels and resorts in Paris, Mali and the Côte d’Ivoire are a stark reminder to the hospitality industry about the need for a regularly reviewed security policy, a business continuity plan and for well-trained staff.

In a recent Institute of Hospitality Insight article, academic and risk expert Alexandros Paraskevas highlighted four key areas in which hospitality organisations and their staff can build their baseline security and anti-terrorism measures.

The key points are:

  • Counter-surveillance
  • Protective measures
  • Active shooter and hostage situation survival
  • Radicalisation (awareness of)

Members of the Institute can access the full article in the February 2016 Insight e-Newsletter in our Publications section of the website.

In the meantime, managers can refer to helpful free resources like NaCTSO’s Stay Safe firearms and weapons attack training materials, which can help managers, staff and the public in learning how to survive a weapons attack. The materials describe what to do during an event to ensure the safety of oneself and others, how and when to alert authorities and how to get to safety.

Attacks on soft targets, like hotels, resorts and concert halls, show that managers in hospitality should continue their good practice when it comes to security but they should also revise their security to mitigate an attack with counter-surveillance and measures aimed at dealing with specific patterns of assault that include active shooters and hostage situations.

Alexandros Paraskevas is professor of strategic risk management and chair in hospitality management at the University of West London

Win customers with top food hygiene ratings

Get support and information to help your business meet food hygiene standards
Get support and information to help your business meet food hygiene standards

I’ll admit it…I do base my dining decisions on a restaurant’s food hygiene rating in its window. My behaviour as a consumer means the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is an increasingly important consumer tool – perhaps more than restaurateurs realise. The scheme helps consumers choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving them information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, takeaways and food shops. In Scotland, a similar programme is run by Food Standards Scotland where the hygiene scheme is called the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS).

In partnership with local authorities, the Food Service Authority operates the FHRS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the FHIS in Scotland. The schemes encourage businesses to improve hygiene standards because up to a third of the population could contract food poisoning from campylobacter, the most common cause of food poisoning. In addition, foodborne illnesses such as E. coli can be fatal. Who wants to risk their own health or that of their family or friends for a takeaway from a business that isn’t compliant with hygiene regulations?

The FHRS is now running in all areas of Wales and Northern Ireland and in 99% of England meaning more restaurants and foodservice businesses will be in the hygiene spotlight for their winning ratings or substandard hygiene. To ensure your business is one of the winners, find out more about the FHRS and the FHIS at: Food Hygiene Ratings.

 

Keeping hospitality and foodservice staff safe and well

You’ll often hear about our industry’s focus on customer service, but hospitality managers know that a business can’t function without happy, healthy staff. To help managers address one of the primary health complaints that can affect our industry, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has just released a new guide on Preventing contact dermatitis and urticaria at work. These conditions are as unpleasant as they sound and can make affected individuals’ lives a misery from the conditions’ resulting irritation, pain and inflammation. Often hands are affected and the appearance of dermatitis can make sufferers very self-conscious so there can be mental as well a physical side effects.

Dermatitis and urticaria can affect everyday activities
Dermatitis and urticaria can affect everyday activities and cause physical and emotional damage

According to  the HSE, dermatitis and urticaria are “defined as inflammation of the skin resulting from exposure to detergents, toiletries, chemicals and even natural products, for example, foods. Prolonged or frequent contact with water (often termed wet work) can also cause it.”

Hospitality managers who employ kitchen, cleaning or housekeeping staff, should be aware that these employees may be more susceptible to the conditions, however, the new HSE guide can help managers reduce – and even remove – the causes of dermatitis.

Download and read the guide to find out:

  • the signs and symptoms of dermatitis and urticaria
  • what the law requires from employers
  • how to conduct a straightforward risk assessment
  • how to prevent urticaria and dermatitis from developing using the ‘APC approach’; and
  • where to find further information and support

The HSE provides extensive resources and templates to support all industries in meeting their obligations to keep employees and the public safe. For further information on information specific to the catering and hospitality industry, see HSE.

‘Tis the season to prevent violence in licensed and retail premises with a FREE toolkit

Prevent violence in your hospitality workplace with the free HSE toolkit
Prevent violence in your hospitality workplace with the free HSE toolkit

The holiday season is supposed to be about goodwill, however, what begins as a fun evening can turn ugly when alcohol is involved. According to the UK’s Alcohol Concern “alcohol misuse costs England around £21bn per year in healthcare, crime and lost productivity costs“. The costs can be significantly higher when taking into account the damage to a business’s reputation, insurance and refurbishment costs.

To assist managers, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities have developed an easy-to-use toolkit to help reduce the risk of work-related violence in a licensed or retail premises.

The toolkit provides practical advice and can help managers and owners prevent or control violence by:

  • Tackling work-related violence towards employees;
  • Reducing the risk of violence to customers and members of the public on the premises; and
  • Reducing the risk of crime against a business.

The toolkit contains information on a wide range of possible control measures and examples of good practice that other businesses have found effective.

Find the toolkit on the HSE’s website at: Prevent Violence.