It’s the most wonderful time of the year — and also one of the most dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that in November and December, injuries tend to rise, with more than 15,000 injuries due to unsafe practices associated with the holiday season.
- Falls: Workplace decorations are some of the leading causes of holiday-season falls. From tripping over wires and cords to trying to get safely around seasonal plants, decorative or real gifts, and large trees or other decorations, workers are at a higher risk for falling. Additionally, companies who typically have decorations hung, whether outside or from the ceiling, have a greater number of workers falling from ladders or stools.
- Fires: One of the most serious holiday-season mishaps are fires. Electrical fires typically stem from faulty lights, unsafe cables and cords, or overloaded outlets. Dried-out Christmas trees are fuel for any fires that may start. From 2010 to 2014, for example, Christmas trees started about 210 home structure fires each year, taking, on average each year, six civilian lives, injuring 16 others, and costing around $16.2 million in annual property damage.
In addition to hazards that arise because of decorations, employees themselves have a higher chance of finding themselves in dangerous situations. Many companies implement overtime to meet the end-of-the-year rush; overworked and overtired employees tend to have more accidents. Companies that bring in temporary and seasonal workers don’t always provide the same level of thorough, detailed training, which can also lead to employee injuries.
Factor in the stress and bustle many employees face in their personal lives, and the holidays can be a dangerous time. To ensure workplace holiday safety for your employees, try implementing these top tips:
- Test all electrical components prior to operation, and consider setting them on a timer that will turn them off when the building is unoccupied.
- Check all smoke detectors, and have your local fire department inspect and charge your building’s fire extinguishers.
- Keep all exit signs and doorways clear of decorations, and make sure your sprinklers and fire safety equipment is easily accessible.
- Provide proper and thorough training seminars for temporary and seasonal employees.
- Program additional meetings regarding safety and awareness for hazards in the workplace.
- Emphasize healthy home habits, as well; encouraging employees to drink responsibly, manage their stress, and get sufficient rest can make a positive impact on workplace holiday safety.