New Hospitality Carbon Monoxide Detector Regulation

New Hospitality Carbon Monoxide Detector Regulation

Cliff Patterson, Vice President Sales Executive

Cliff Patterson

The safety and security of hotel guests are one of the most important priorities of SIA Group. Carbon monoxide has killed nearly 400 people throughout North Carolina since 2011 according to a Charlotte Observer report. Although North Carolina is among the 27 states that require carbon monoxide alarms in new homes, it did not mandate detectors in hotels.

Months after three carbon monoxide poisoning fatalities in Boone, NC, Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, together with the NC Restaurant and Lodging Association and Building Code Council, persuaded legislative leaders to require North Carolina hotels to install carbon monoxide detectors near fuel-burning appliances.

Effective October 1, under Section 19 of House Bill 74, The Regulatory Reform Act, requires the North Carolina Building Code Council to adopt new code provisions requiring carbon monoxide detectors in certain places within every North Carolina lodging property. Lodging establishments must install carbon monoxide detectors in any enclosed space having a fossil fuel burning appliance, heater or fireplace and in any room that shares a common wall, ceiling or floor with an enclosed space with a fossil fuel burning appliance, heater or fireplace.

Some national hotels chains such as La Quinta Inn & Suites already require alarms to be installed at every location where there are pools with gas-fired equipment. Marriott also mandates detectors are to be placed wherever fuel-burning equipment is located within the hotel.

Smaller, or individually owned and operated establishments typically require each hotel to comply with federal, state and local laws and standards, including those related to health and safety and this change will have a direct impact on  such smaller establishments. Most mid-size hotels average two to three monoxide sources. Common examples of these appliances include water heaters and gas appliances in the hotel kitchen.

It is necessary to ensure the carbon monoxide detectors installed meet new code requirements:

  • Can be battery-operated or electrical
  • Can also be combined with smoke detectors so long as the smoke detector complies with the above mentioned requirements and compliant with ANSI/UL217.
  • Must be installed in accordance with either the standard of the National Fire Protection Association or the minimum protection designated by the manufacturer’s instructions.

Carbon monoxide is known as “the silent killer,” a colorless and odorless gas that is known to cause death or illness in minutes. SIA Group fully supports this new regulation and will continue to aim to keep our clients and each guest they serve safe throughout their hotel stay.

ADA Alert

There are five reasons that all hotel members in the United States need to comply with all the new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements before the March 15, 2012 deadline. By acting now, you can save your business countless productive working hours and thousands of dollars in penalties. 

1. The March 15, 2012 deadline is the effective date for the most sweeping changes to the ADA in 20 years.

2. These changes directly affect every hotel owner and operator in the United States.

3. Experts expect that a tidal wave of private lawsuits and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement actions will start the day after the deadline, on March 16, 2012, and that it will dwarf the approximately 12,000 lawsuits filed over the past five or six years under the original ADA.

4. Owners and operators are each jointly and separately liable for violations of the ADA, and they both will likely be sued. Most ADA claims are not covered by insurance, but most management agreements will require owners to pay or indemnify operators for such claims.

5. It is much cheaper to prevent lawsuits than to fight them. You can pay a little now to avoid the problem, or you can pay a lot more later to deal with it.

Why act now? It is the law. It is the right thing to do. It is much more cost-effective to prevent lawsuits than to fight them. 

If you wait and get sued or investigated by the DOJ, in addition to the cost of making the property fully compliant, you may get hit with fines, plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees and costs. Some states can award damages as well. In addition, the DOJ can fine hotels up to $55,000 for the first ADA offense and $110,000 for each subsequent offense.

Your general liability insurance carrier will not pay for any of these costs either. The best action to take as a business owner is to hire an ADA expert to analyze your hotel operations and determine deficiencies so you can fix them before there is a problem.

SIA Group can provide you with an insurance policy that provides your hotel with coverage in the event that your hotel is sued for not being ADA compliant, and the cost is very inexpensive, especially considering the possibility of facing fines and lawsuits without having it. Contact Bradley Carroll at bcarroll@siagroup.net or Cliff Patterson at cpatterson@siagroup.net or call and ask for either person at 1-800-682-7741 for more information.

Security Breach Policies Becoming Popular With Businesses

In 2011 security professionals experienced more hackers causing data breaches so widespread that the diversity in the types of businesses targeted in the past year showed that no single sector of business is truly safe. Some industries experienced truly large attacks, such as a 32 percent increase in the health care industry alone.

Online criminals have multiple ways of disrupting a business. They access computers to send viruses or release sensitive customer data, and they launch attacks on computer systems to transfer money or credit card information, or shut down operations totally.

The results of such activity are devastating to businesses affected by them. A recent study found that from 2010 to 2011, the time and money required to respond to security breaches has been increasing, with the median cost of data breaches increasing by 56 percent and costing companies an average of $6 million per year.

Given these circumstances, businesses should take adequate precautions by working with an experienced insurance agency to discuss and install policies that cover possible losses from security breaches. These policies should address all types of security breaches, including total denial of service for the business, as online attacks into businesses are occurring more frequently and with more severity.

If you have any questions about security breach policies, contact Bradley Carroll at bcarroll@siagroup.net  or Cliff Patterson at cpatterson@siagroup.net or call (910) 455-7576 and ask for Bradley or Cliff.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Kiwithing

A Leap Into New Blogging

(From Don Mills)

Happy Leap Day! Since an occasion like this comes around only once every four years, I thought this would be a great time to let you know about some unique changes to our blog!

We will be expanding our blog to include a broader range of topics, as well as give a glimpse of what it is like to be part of the SIA Group family. In future days and weeks, look for blog changes from SIA Group team members that will include the following:

  • A broader range of topics coverage – we will discuss personal lines of insurance as much as our commercial ones and other topics.
  • Entries from team members sharing their own experiences in personal and commercial insurance lines.
  • Insight into our community involvement throughout North Carolina and the other markets that SIA Group serves – we as a company are committed and involved in making these cities a better place for people to live and work.

As always, we plan to give you timely and informative news on personal and commercial insurance. These changes will help you know SIA Group a little better, as well as what we do in and beyond the insurance industry.

Feel free to use the comments section to give your thoughts on our posts, as well as ask any questions you might have. These changes are occurring to serve you better, so we want to know what you think. Thank you!

If you have any questions about personal or commercial insurance, our team at SIA Group is here to meet your needs. Give us a call at (910) 455-7576 and we will be happy to help.

How the New Employee Rights Notice Posting Will Affect You

By April 30 of this year, most businesses in the private sector will be required to place an 11-by-17 poster in their workplaces advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The poster, available through the National Labor Relations Board website in English, Spanish and 26 other commonly used languages, informs employees about their right to organize and bargain collectively with their employers, and to engage in other protected concerted activity.

The NLRB requires that it must appear in a conspicuous place, where other notifications of workplace rights and employer rules and policies are posted, and be linked to an internal or external website if other personnel policies or workplace notices are posted there as well.

The biggest change employers will notice is that the new rules will reduce the time that they have to respond to union organization petitions by nearly half from the current 42 days to 24 days or less. This already has prompted concerns from one group, hoteliers, about a lack of time to engage employees in open, two-way dialogue about the impact of a unionization vote.

The best defense to this new invitation for disgruntled employees to take advantage and organize opposition to their working conditions is to have good personnel practices in place and help available when you need it. A more favorable work environment will limit such talk from occurring.

A top employee benefit and human resources management consulting firm will work with clients to anticipate the implications of changes in federal regulations for employers and how to adapt to them accordingly. The advisors will thoroughly analyze all the risks an employer faces, whether they are hazard-based, financial-based, operations-based, or strategic-based, identify vulnerabilities and establish a “blueprint” to protect his or her corporate and personal assets. 

Assessing personnel practices is one of the wisest ways for an employer to lower the total cost of risk. This review should occur as soon as possible with professionals experienced in mitigating difficulties faced with complying with new rules, particularly when they can adversely affect a business if not addressed properly and quickly.

If you have any questions about the employee rights notices, contact Bradley Carroll at bcarroll@siagroup.net or Cliff Patterson at cpatterson@siagroup.net or call toll free to 1-800-682-7741.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Batle Group: Mar Hotels, Majestic-Resorts & Lively

Bed Bugs a Nagging Problem for the Hospitality Industry

The old saying “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” unfortunately has real meaning for many travelers in the last decade who have encountered these unpleasant parasites. Small (adults are about 3/8 to 1/4-inches long) and reddish-brown, bed bugs emerge at night from their hiding places in cracks and crevices near the bed or places where people sleep to feed on humans. Bites are most often found on the neck, arm and shoulders, but can occur on legs or ankles as well, and can be quite painful for some victims.

There has been particular concern about the rise of bed bug incidents in many American hotels, including upscale ones. Since bed bugs can arrive on the clothing or in the suitcases of guests from infested homes or other hotels harboring the pests, hotels can be an easy target for bed bug infestations. The difficulty of removing bed bugs at hotels have spurred a number of lawsuits by guests, including one where the plaintiff, a New York opera singer, is suing a Phoenix hotel for $6 million after she woke up with multiple bed bug bites.

The potential threat of such suits alleging negligence and fraud against an establishment, among other charges, is that they can result in bad publicity as well as monetary damages incurred for lawyers and other defense activities. To prevent such situations, anyone operating a hospitality business should have an emergency plan in place to address them. These plans should include:

It is important to contact a responsible insurance group that offers an emergency plan with these elements and others for handling bed bug incidents. Otherwise, they face potentially catastrophic legal action that appears more likely every day as the bed bug situation remains a nagging irritant for the industry at every level, despite efforts to eradicate it.

In addition to offering hospitality operations general liability and umbrella insurance coverage, SIA Group can help clients make a plan for covering pest control operator costs, as well as costs incurred from negative online reviews. Since SIA Group represents more than 50 percent of the pest control operators in North Carolina, agents can give hotels access to qualified, specialized pest control operators to solve bedbug issues. If you would like to inquire about insurance coverage and bedbug plans for your hospitality operation, contact Cliff Patterson at cpatterson@siagroup.net or Bradley Carroll at bcarroll@siagroup.net or call 910-478-3312.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Gilles San Martin

Crisis Management Coverage

During a crisis, protecting a business’s reputation can become stressful and overwhelming if an action plan is not in place. Crisis management coverage can help business owners successfully face daunting issues while maintaining employee morale, financial security and normal day-to-day operations.

An insurance agent can advise employers on the various components of crisis coverage, including unforeseen events and additional business costs. Some examples of covered events are:

  • Food Poisoning
  • Workplace accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Criminal activity
  • Workplace violence

These are fairly straightforward, but what exactly are the additional costs when a business must face a crisis? Often, such events garner negative publicity that can severely affect a company’s reputation without proper handling. The services of crisis communication professionals are often covered through a certain period of time, as are the loss of income and other expenses after a crisis. Comprehensive crisis management coverage should also include medical, counseling and transportation expenses for employees dealing with the outcome disastrous events. Make sure you know exactly how long these items are covered, because when they expire, any potential expenses incurred afterward will be your responsibility.

With all of the items addressed by crisis management coverage, businesses without this kind of insurance should consider engaging in proper crisis planning. Does your business have the proper coverage in case of a crisis?

Photo Credit: Flickr user Chris.Violette