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Written by
on 06 December 2011


The crispness in the air and the subtle jingle of bells around the community signal a festive time of year and what better way to celebrate the holidays than at the place you spend the most time.

A little decorative flare, inspirational music, spirited lights and office parties are a few of the many ways to perk up the workspace. In choosing to liven up at work use caution and safety to avoid the common hazards of carelessness that can occur around the holidays.

Common workplace mishaps coinciding with the holidays:

  1. Unnecessary injury from falls and slips when hanging celebratory decorations or poor workspace lighting from using festive lights instead of normal overhead illuminations.
  2. Fire and electrical problems from exposed wires, shortages or leaving lights on for extended periods of time. This also extends to use of an open flame decoration or improper care with Christmas trees.
  3. Too much alcohol involved celebration after hours.
  4. Placing decorations or tools carelessly in the path of traffic.
  5. Acts of nature that spill into the workplace, including improper cleanup of melted ice from winter storms or contagious illness spreading amongst workers feeling pressure to prevent lost work time.

Employers and employees can take measures to ensure fellow colleagues and the workspace remains a safe and pleasant haven for conducting business while also portraying holiday cheer.

  • Get permission to use, assemble or display any holiday items intended for decorating the office. Talking to the boss can help you figure out if your decorations meet safety standards.
  • Hang decorations using appropriate tools, such as a ladder instead of the countertop or swivel chair. Ask a colleague to help stabilize the base of the ladder. Avoid placing decorations in spaces that are hard to reach or that require elaborate construction to reach. You can create a marvellous display without hurting yourself by falling or pulling a muscle.
  • Use the appropriate workspace lighting during work hours. The newly hung lights might look amazing but are not appropriate for illuminating the office.
  • Remain extremely conscious of fire safety: keep paper, plastic, rubber or flammable decorations away from hot surfaces, lights or heaters. Check all wires of electrical items to ensure they are properly encased and insulated. Avoid using open flame candles. It is against most health and safety regulations in businesses to have an open flame in the workspace. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and ensure all co-workers know where and how to operate the extinguisher. Remember: Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep, or P.A.S.S., if you must use the extinguisher.
  • If drinking at the office party occurs, do so responsibly and with a sober designated driver.
  • Pick up all straggling tools or decorations and remove them from the path of traffic.
  • If you experience inclement weather that leaves ice on the shoes or soaks your wardrobe, do not leave these items dripping to dry around electric decorations. Use common sense when it comes to covering cough or sneezes like washing your hands and if at all possible take time off to heal.

Have fun during the holidays. Enjoy your workspace and your co-workers but use good common sense to prevent unnecessary hazards on the job. Sensible decisions, reviewing compliance regulations, having a pre-holiday pep talk and heeding the tips can help your office have a festive, tragedy-free holiday season.

This post has been provided by a guest Blogger

A chartered (fellow) safety and risk management practitioner with 20+ years of experience. David provides a healthy dose of how-to articles, advice and guidance to make compliance easier for construction professionals, Architects and the built environment. Get social with David on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.


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