A new guide and a series of ergonomic brochures designed to help prevent injuries to workers in British Columbia''s hospitality industry are available from the province''s Workers'' Compensation Board (WCB). The hospitality industry has the fourth highest total of claims among all industries in British Columbia.

"We have been working closely with members of the industry to create practical, relevant, health and safety tools based on the specific needs of hospitality employers and workers," said Roberta Ellis, WCB vice president of Prevention. "We and the industry recognize both the human and financial impact of injuries and are pleased to be able to provide workplace safety materials that may help to reduce this impact."

In 2001, there were 6,500 accepted claims for the hospitality sector. Only the health care, construction and retail sectors sustained more claims in 2001. Between 1996 and 2000, there were more than 21,000 accepted claims for the restaurant and hotel/motel sectors. These resulted in about $46 million in claim costs and more than 599,000 lost workdays.

The statistics also reveal that a large number of employers in the hospitality industry are small businesses, which employ fewer than 20 workers. Small restaurants in British Columbia make up 87 percent of WCB''s registered employers in the restaurant sector and generate 34 percent of the compensation claim costs. Smaller hotels/motels represent 77 percent of the sector and generate 14 percent of the claims.

The Health and Safety for Small Business guide was produced to assist smaller employers with their health and safety needs.

"Restaurants are the starting ground for many young workers and it is our joint responsibility to ensure they have safe working conditions," said Simon Evans, president and CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. "This guide is another practical tool in helping both employers and employees reduce the number of accidents in the workplace."

The most common type of accident in the hotel/motel sector of the industry for the period 1996-2000 was musculoskeletal injuries - a combination of overexertion and repetitive motion injuries. In consultation with the industry, the board developed a series of eight Ergonomic Tips for the Hospitality Industry. These pamphlets focus on the prevention of injuries for a variety of different workers and occupations, ranging from kitchen and bar staff to luggage handlers and front desk agents.

In addition, two new resources for the industry are also available from the Board. The Small Business CD-ROM contains interactive health and safety material for small business, including video, direct links to online and print material, and other prevention resources. The online Tourism & Hospitality Health and Safety Centre, introduced last year, provides a guide to safety links and alerts, and allows the user to search the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. To access information materials, visit WorkSafe online at www.worksafebc.com.

The Workers'' Compensation Board serves nearly 2 million workers and about 167,000 employers.

by Sandy Smith (ssmith@penton.com)