If a proposed contract for New York City hotel staffers is approved, personal panic alarms (panic buttons) would be part of a measure to improve safety for those staff members.
The proposal between the Hotel Association of New York (the association of hotel owners) and the New York Hotel Trades Council AFL CIO (the union of hotel workers) specifies "devices to be carried on their persons at work that they can quickly and easily activate to effectively summon prompt assistance to their location", in addition to pensions, health coverage and raises.
Such devices are already part of personal safety at other locations. In fact California State University at San Marcos began testing a similar unit for students late last year, which used personal panic button alarm units from security industry technology company Inovonics.
The concern in hotels is that a hotel staffer could be assaulted in a guest room, and apparently the concern is not just in New York. In June 2011, Fox News reported that in Sacramento, house keepers were also calling for additional safety measures.
It makes great sense, and I suspect that assaults on staffers taking care of dirty laundry is one of the dirty secrets of workplace violence in the hospitality industry.