Panic buttons & the law: How you can prepare for 2020

Panic buttons & the law: How you can prepare for 2020 https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_622126430.jpg

A bill passed in the 2019 legislative session and signed into state law requires all employers in hotel, motel, retail, property services or a security guard entity to have all the following beginning Jan. 1, 2020:

  • Adopt a sexual harassment policy;
  • Provide specific mandatory anti-harassment training to the employer’s managers, supervisors, and employees including;
  • Provide a list of resources to employees to utilize. Resources must include contact information for;
    1. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    2. The Washington state Human Rights Commission
    3. Local advocacy groups focused on preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault
  • Provide a panic button to employees who spend the majority of their working hours alone and is employed as a janitor, security guard, hotel or motel housekeeper, or room service attendant.

What is a panic button?

A panic button is defined in law as, “an emergency contact device carried by an employee by which the employee may summon immediate on-scene assistance from another worker, a security guard, or a representative of the employer.”

  • There is no mention in the law about a specific brand or type of panic button you must use.
  • Employers are free to make the choice that best fits for their employees, location and business.
  • Examples of a panic button that would work under this definition are: a cell phone, walky-talky, or another device through a vendor.
  • The Washington Hospitality Association has a few allied members who offer panic buttons and systems. They are Santi Oloriz at RF Technologies,  Kristie Erwin at SoloProtect, Kurt Knipper at TraknProtect,  Brandon DeCuir at React Mobile, Mark Sajjad at Airista Flow, Inc  and Gustav Rosengren at Seecure Inc.

 What to do if you are called by a company who gives you a quote for a panic button system?

  • This is a sales call and you do not have to go with this company or the quote you are given.
  • You have until Jan. 1, 2020 to comply with the law if you have 60 or more hotel rooms. All other businesses have until Jan. 1, 2021 to comply.
  • Please remember that you have options under the law and do not have to go with one, specific type of system.

What are my training options for my employees?

The Washington Hospitality Association Education Foundation recommends the following training options for employees:

The Washington Hospitality Association supports employee safety and supports this law.

  • If you have questions about any of the training requirements or how to develop any of the policies listed above, please contact your Area Coordinator, or the main office at 360.956.7279

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