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11.5: Occupational Health and Safety in Tourism

  • Page ID
    9369
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    So far we have primarily discussed risk management from a client/guest perspective. However, substantial effort in a tourism and hospitality operation must be put into managing worker safety as well. Responsibilities for worker safety are generally legislated by occupational health and safety laws, which clearly dictate safety standards. Employers who fail to adhere to these standards may be penalized or fined (WorkSafeBC, 2015a).

    WorkSafeBC is the provincial organization for occupational health and safety in BC. It is an independent agency managed by a board of directors who are appointed by government. The mandate of WorkSafeBC is to:

    • Promote the prevention of workplace injury, illness, and disease
    • Rehabilitate those who are injured and provide timely return to work
    • Provide fair compensation to replace workers’ loss of wages while recovering from injuries
    • Ensure sound financial management for a viable workers’ compensation system (2015b)

    There was an average of 4300 tourism and hospitality WorkSafeBC claims each year from 2014 to 2018, which is slightly below the average of all sectors within BC. (WorkSafeBC, 2020c). To reduce these claims and protect workers, WorkSafeBC has an extensive worker safety program with educational resources and training programs available. A partnership with go2HR — the tourism and hospitality human resources organization — has been developed to raise awareness in tourism and hospitality about worker safety, particularly for young, vulnerable workers (go2HR, 2015).

    A kitchen knife is held in one hand. A finger on the other hand has a bandage with a sad face.
    Figure 11.8 Kitchen accidents are a common workplace injury in hospitality. Many are more serious than this.

    The nature of tourism and hospitality often means operations need to employ a considerable number of employees; these are often entry-level positions, requiring little experience. Employers need to be cognizant of the requirements for worker safety under WorkSafeBC; failing to do so may result in fines for the operation, or far worse — workplace injuries to employees.

    Spotlight On: WorkSafeBC BC Tourism and Hospitality Resources

    WorkSafeBC has extensive resources for tourism and hospitality workers to avoid workplace injury. These include prevention tools for accommodation, adventure tourism, food and beverage, and events. WorkSafeBC also explains updates and changes to workers’ compensation in BC, and provides opportunities for courses and training in first aid and injury prevention. For more information, visit WorkSafeBC BC Tourism and Hospitality website.

    In addition to concerns about safety, employers and employees must be aware of the Employment Standards Act. This act defines the legal requirements around employment such as minimum wage, breaks, meal times, vacation pay, statutory holidays, age of employment, and leave from work (British Columbia Ministry of Labour, 2015).

    Take a Closer Look: Employment Standards Act FAQs

    This list of frequently asked questions provides quick answers to inquiries about employment standards in BC, including whether employers are required to pay for sick leave, time in meetings, and coffee breaks. You can read more about them at the Employment Standards Act FAQs.


    11.5: Occupational Health and Safety in Tourism is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Morgan Westcott & Wendy Anderson et al..

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