Reducing the risk of holiday injury and illnessSeptember 2, 2010
No matter what type of holiday you choose the tour operator has a responsibility to ensure your safety. However, the standard of Health & Safety abroad is not always as it should be and as a result holiday accidents and holiday illness happens that, with proper checks, timely maintenance and good hygiene could have been prevented. Tour Operators have a duty of care to their customers and should make sure that all suppliers contracted to them meet required standards so that injury caused by holiday accident and holiday illness can be prevented.
Whether the accommodation is in a hotel, apartment, villa, cruise ship or a tent or caravan it should conform to Health & Safety standards. Rooms should be well planned, constructed and maintained and any balconies should have adequate and properly fitted handrails. Floors that are likely to become wet and slippery should ideally have non-slip surfaces and during cleaning should have signs posted warning of the danger of slipping. Halls, landings and particularly stairwells should be properly illuminated to avoid holiday accidents.
Gas air-conditioning, hot water and heating boilers should be checked and maintained regularly to ensure that carbon monoxide cannot escape into the accommodation and cause a preventable holiday illness which may prove fatal.
Electrics & Electrical Equipment
Wiring should have been properly carried out and checked during construction. Electrical equipment should also undergo regular checks and be replaced immediately a fault is found to prevent electrocution injury on holiday.
The grounds should be well maintained and checked regularly for dangers such as discarded bottles, glasses or cans. Pathways should be adequately illuminated for guests to return to their accommodation safely after dark and so prevent a holiday accident.
Pools should be cleaned and maintained and the water quality checked regularly to ensure it is of acceptable standard and free from known contaminants. The water should be clear enough for the bottom of the pool to be easily visible and should be free of residue such as that left by sun tan oil that may adversely affect users of the pool. The pool itself should be checked before use and regularly thereafter to ensure that nothing that can pose a danger, such as a broken glass, has been dropped into the pool. If swimming pools are not regularly checked for contaminants that may cause either an injury on holiday or holiday illness.
There should be staff in attendance during pool opening times to ensure that guests use the pool sensibly and with no risk to themselves or other pool users, and anyone in difficulty in the water is observed and rescued quickly.
The depth of the water should be clearly marked on the pool. The most severe and long term injury on holiday is often the result of jumping or diving into shallow water.
To prevent injury on holiday caused by slipping the area surrounding the pool should have non slip surfaces.
Activities & Excursions
Arranged activities and excursions should be properly organised with attention paid to Health & Safety. If you book your holiday through the larger, well-run companies that are more likely to have strict safety regulation, you are less likely to suffer a holiday accident but if you do they are much more likely to have contingencies than if you went with a less established operator.
Food Poisoning – Sickness and diarrhoea are common forms of holiday illness. Sometimes symptoms are mild and may be attributed to the change in diet but it could be food poisoning caused by incorrectly prepared, inadequately cooked or contaminated food. Cruise ships and hotels that provide accommodation with part or full board, where concentrated groups of people are eating from the same source, are particularly liable to holiday illness caused by outbreaks of food poisoning.
Legionnaires Disease – This illness is caused by legionella bacteria which live and multiply in standing water. The bacteria can be released into the atmosphere in minute droplets of water, which evaporates, leaving a dry nucleus of the bacteria which is easily inhaled and causes symptoms similar to flu or pneumonia. It is a serious condition which proves fatal for approximately 10% – 15% of those who develop it. Sources of contamination may be air-conditioning systems, hot water systems, showers, spa baths and room humidifiers and hotels, cruise ships and hospitals with old and poorly maintained pipes and cooling systems are the most likely places for the bacteria to be found.
Carbon monoxide poisoning – This is caused by faulty gas installations such as air-conditioning systems, hot water boilers etc and poor ventilation. Carbon monoxide can build up and, when breathed in, replaces the oxygen in the body. As a result vital organs such as the heart and lungs are starved of the oxygen they require in order to function, with serious and sometimes fatal consequences.