Steve Tate, Chairman of Check Safety First is interviewed by Sky Travel in the Sirenis Cocotal Beach Hotel in the Dominican Republic.
The programme discusses the ever increasing expectations of guests with regards to health and safety when on holiday.
Check Safety First has also pioneered the improvement of standards in those hotels working with them.
The Sirenis Cocotal Beach Hotel was the 2005 national winner for the Dominican Republic.
Steve Tate, Chairman of Check Safety First is interviewed by English language Spanish radio station REM FM. The interview took place on the 30th May as part of their enterprise section which showcases rapidly growing British business based on new ideas.
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SERVICE LAUNCHED TO PROTECT OVERSEAS HOLIDAY HOME OWNERS AGAINST HEALTH AND SAFETY CLAIMS
5th December 2007 - Holiday health and safety expert, Check Safety First, is launching a new service to protect holiday rental home owners and managers against accident and injury claims from their guests.
Via-Cristal provides holiday property owners and their letting agents with a tried and tested system for implementing best practice health and safety measures. Users are supplied with a detailed, straightforward manual which outlines a series of action points that must be undertaken to mitigate the risk of guests becoming injured during their time in the accommodation.
After completing the required activities for their property, owners must contact Check Safety Firstís team of inspectors to arrange an independent audit of their premises. Subject to this independent verification, the property will be granted Via-Cristal certification for 12 months.
Each property that signs-up to the service will be subject to an annual audit by Check Safety First to determine the current standards and provide ongoing guidance for areas which require attention. Once a property gains Via Cristal certification, its details will be added to www.checksafetyfirst.com, an online portal proactively marketed to the travel trade & general public which contains details of holiday accommodation around the world that complies with stringent health and safety standards.
Mark Harrington, CEO at Check Safety First, explains: ďMore than 800,000 Brits own holiday properties overseas, but most are unaware of their legal obligations to protect guests. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that very few have adequate insurance policies in place to provide cover in the event of an injury claim against them. Via Cristal provides them with a tangible framework for addressing potential hazards and allows owners to market their property on the strength of an internationally recognised standard for health and safety.
The Via-Cristal service covers the specific safety requirements of: living quarters; including bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, kitchens and dining areas; gas appliances; balconies and terraces; swimming pools and recreational facilities; fire safety and emergency medical facilities. To support its launch, Check Safety First has joined forces with specialist insurer HISCOX to offer Via Cristal certified properties access to buildings and contents insurance packages which also covers holiday rental homes for up to £2,000,000 of third party liability cover per claim.
The annual service, including entry to the website, safety manual, certification and audit is available from £250.
CHECK SAFETY FIRST WARNS AGENTS AND OPERATORS OVER HOTELIERSí HURRICANE PREPARATIONS
17 July 2007 - Health and safety experts at Check Safety First are advising tour operators and agents to check hotel safety procedures before sending the travelling public to destinations vulnerable to hurricanes.
With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasting that this yearís hurricane season will be worse than average, with as many as 17 named storms predicted compared to a typical seasonís 11, it is essential that operators and agents ensure that hotels on their books have hurricane safety procedures in place.
"Lowered prices of flights to destinations such the Dominican Republic and Mexico have boosted the number of UK tourists travelling in the hurricane season to areas where tropical storms and hurricanes typically occur," explains Mark Harrington, CEO at Check Safety First. "To ensure that guests have the utmost protection, it is essential that agents and operators investigate the procedures that hoteliers have in place to cope with the threat of a hurricane."
Many hotels in hurricane hotspots are readily experienced in dealing with extreme weather conditions and already have procedures in place. But itís worth checking what types of standards hoteliers have implemented.
The tips below from Check Safety First offer advice on the types of questions which operators and agents need to be asking of the hotels which they send tourists to:
In addition to these questions, agents and operators need to realise their responsibility for warning tourists about hurricane conditions. For example, although the official Atlantic hurricane in 2005 ran from June 1st until November 30th storms actually continued into January of 2006. Agents need to be on hand to offer sound and honest advice to customers travelling to hurricane prone destinations.
CHECK SAFETY FIRST TARGETS CONTINUED NORTH AFRICAN EXPANSION
4 July 2007 Ė The continued growth in popularity of North African holiday destinations is driving more hoteliers to improve standards of health and safety, according to Check Safety First.
The company, which provides food hygiene and health & safety auditing services to the global hotel industry, is reporting significant growth in its North African operations during the first six months of 2007. Check Safety First has so far this year, and the region now represents its fastest growing market.
Spurred by the introduction of low-cost flights and growing demand for winter sun destinations, the regionís hoteliers are taking steps to develop its reputation as a safe choice for tourists, as Steve Tate, chairman of Check Safety First, explains:
"Hoteliers are learning from the experiences of more established holiday destinations that a strong reputation for health & safety can really differentiate their resort from the competition. It also reassures both tour operators and private individuals that all of the necessary steps are being taken by the hotel to protect their guests' well being."
Check Safety First currently works with more than 400 hotels throughout Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. The company has also supported the extensive fleet of Nile cruise ships since the late 1990s, producing consistently high standards of health and safety to overcome the reputation for causing illness that the boats had developed. In 2005, Check Safety First was contracted by the Egyptian Hotel Association as part of a government-backed initiative to raise hygiene standards in 150 hotels.
CHECK SAFETY FIRST CELEBRATES 10th ANNIVERSARY AT GLOBAL AWARD CEREMONY IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
23 May 2007 - Shown here is the presentation of the CSF Global Award 2006 to the Dominican Republic national winner 'Sirenis Cocotal Beach'.
The people in the image are Mr Ian Worthington, British Amabassador to the Dominican Republic, The manager of the hotel Mr. Pedro Torres and Dr. Persia Alavarez, Check Safety First Director DR. The global awards event coincided with our 10th Anniversary celebrations.
Over the past 10 years we have improved the safety and reduced the risk of over 120 major hotels in the country and helped to establish the Dominican Republic as a major tourist destination.
SPANISH HOTEL RECOGNISED AS WORLD'S SAFEST IN CRISTAL AWARDS
26 April 2007 - The Sunwing Resort Arguineguin, Spain, has been recognised as the world's safest hotel by health and safety experts at www.checksafetyfirst.com.
The hotel won www.checksafetyfirst.com's annual Cristal awards, which honour hotels that have consistently achieved exceptional levels of health and safety. The Cristal programme, developed in accordance with guidelines from the World Health Organisation, enables hotels to meet and exceed local and international legislative and best practice requirements.
"It takes a real team effort to improve and maintain high standards of health and safety, and the staff of the Sunwing Resort Arguineguin have shown tremendous co-operation and dedication," says Mark Harrington, CEO of www.checksafetyfirst.com. "They have shown remarkable consistency over the time we have worked with them and have clearly demonstrated their commitment to the well-being of their guests."
Sunwing Resort Arguineguin has been working with www.checksafetyfirst.com since 2002 and has used the company's Cristal programme and e-Cristal risk management audit system to ensure standards are constantly monitored and independent audits are undertaken on a monthly basis. Not only does this go beyond the requirements set out by tour operators, travel agents and local legislation, it provides the hotel with an audit trail of health and safety measures which it can use to demonstrate its credentials to guests.
"This is reward for an excellent team effort over a long period of time," comments Thomas Massanet, general manager of the Sunwing Resort Arguineguin. "Working with www.checksafetyfirst.com on a monthly basis has helped our staff to produce a very high standard that we intend to maintain in the future. Health and safety is a major priority for the hotel and the level of quality that www.checksafetyfirst.com has helped us to achieve ensures our guests can remember their holiday for all of the right reasons."
Checksafetyfirst.com has included a new category in this year's awards aimed at groups of hotels who maintain excellent standards across geographical boundaries through its e-Cristal facility. The first winner is Barcelo, a chain which has hotels across Europe, Africa, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Over the last year, www.checksafetyfirst.com has developed new modules for its e-Cristal risk management audit system to help hoteliers implement high standards across a number of additional key health and safety areas. The modules include fire, accommodation and swimming pool safety.
Next year will see the introduction of a new award for the greenest hotel following the recent launch of www.checksafetyfirst.com's environmental module, which will enable senior managers in international hotel chains to demonstrate due diligence with regard to their environmental performance.
CHECK SAFETY FIRST WARNS TRAVEL INDUSTRY OVER SELF-CERTIFICATION HEALTH AND SAFETY RISKS
10 April 2007 - Check Safety First is warning tour operators and travel agents against relying on self-certified hotel health and safety audits.
The warning comes at a time when tour operators and agents are increasingly looking for guidance to ensure that hotels which they send holidaymakers to have high levels of health and safety standards. This demand has led to the development of several health and safety initiatives which aim to provide tour operators and agents with information based on self-certification and a formal audit cycle of 12-36 months.
But relying on such practices can be dangerous warns Steve Tate, chairman at Check Safety First: "Given that 70 per cent of all health and safety claims are food and hygiene related, auditing once a year or even less frequently is inadequate. Allowing holidaymakers to eat food from a kitchen which may have not been independently audited for several years poses extreme risk to their health."
Between annual audits, many health and safety programmes rely on self-audits carried out by hotels to monitor health and safety standards throughout the rest of the year. But this is also a risky practice:
"While the practice of self-auditing is better than taking no action at all, it means that tour operators and agents must place their trust completely in hoteliers. This process is open to potential abuse and does not guarantee improved health and safety performance," says Tate.
Tate is leading the call for the industry to look beyond its legal obligations and utilise processes which ensure the well being of guests - those which involve a continual cycle of assessment which is monitored and audited by independent bodies on a monthly basis.
CHECK SAFETY FIRST TO SUPPORT MED HOTELS IN HOLIDAY HEALTH AND SAFETY DRIVE
5 December 2006 - Med Hotels is to join forces with holiday hygiene and safety experts, Check Safety First, by recommending the company's Cristal food hygiene system to the accommodation-only supplier's contracted hotels.
Med Hotels, a wholly owned subsidiary of the lastminute.com group, provides hotel accommodation for both the travel trade and consumers direct, and presently undertakes annual audits of its 2,500 hotel suppliers. Food hygiene standards are assessed as part of this process but the decision to recommend Cristal to its hotels will ensure independent, ad-hoc audits take place every month.
Initially targeting destinations in Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia, Med Hotels will be able to monitor the standards of hygiene in its contracted hotels through Check Safety First's eCristal facility, an online risk management audit system which provides real-time access to reports and clear guidance on those areas of the hotel which require further attention.
"We've always been quick to respond if we uncover poor hygiene standards, and working with Check Safety First will enable us to increase our levels of pro-activity and the extent to which we and our contracted hotels can protect customers against food-related illness," explains Carl Burrows, group trade director of Med Hotels.
It is estimated that the UK travel industry faces annual compensation claims of around £50 million from holidaymakers, of which food related illness is one of the most common complaints. As a result, a growing number or tour operators, travel agents and, more recently, dynamic packagers are implementing systems to reduce the risks of their guests against becoming ill.
"Although there is still a degree of confusion as to who is liable in the event that a holidaymaker tries to sue for becoming ill, the case for developing and utilising risk management systems is becoming stronger with every claim that hits the headlines," explains Steve Tate, Chairman of Check Safety First. "By encouraging the adoption of Cristal amongst its contracted hotels, Med Hotels is taking positive steps towards mitigating the risk to which it exposes customers, partners and its own bottom line."
CRISTAL AWARDS 2007