Six Ways to Bring Christmas Workplace Safety to the Next Level

A worker dressed in a Santa outfit driving a forklift truck in a warehouse.

Christmas workplace safety might come across as bah-humbug! But, it’s not the case in reality.  In fact, there are many health and safety myths, and the Christmas period certainly has its fair share. This is a real shame. After all, Christmas is such a special time. Health and safety is too often wrongly blamed as a reason for preventing the festivities from getting in to full swing. 

But the “elf and safety gone mad” headlines also trivialise the true purpose of health and safety – protecting people from risk.

So, in this article I’m going to debunk some of the myths and provide some Christmas workplace safety tips to ensure joy and happiness this season.

Shining a Light on Christmas Workplace Safety

Christmas workplace safety protocol doesn’t include any specific legal requirement to carry out PAT tests on the lights, but this doesn’t exempt the duty holder from ensuring the safety of everybody using the premises. So, what’s the sensible solution?

It’s advisable that your PAT test frequency reflects –

  • Number of people using the electrical appliance
  • Type of premises where the electrical appliances are used

Plus, it’s best practice to pop these quick and simple tasks on your wish list:

  • Only buy lights with safety marks on the packaging. Do your lights have them?
  • Check the lights for any physical signs of damage
  • Make sure you’re using the right fuses
  • Keep the lights clear of any flammable materials
  • Switch to LEDs if possible – they use less energy and don’t give off as much heat
  • Don’t leave the lights unattended and turn them off when everybody leaves work
A festoon of gold star Christmas decorations against a navy blue backdrop.

Deck the Halls

There’s absolutely no good reason to ban decorations on the grounds of Christmas workplace safety. But every workplace has a duty of care to ensure that all is calm and bright for employees and visitors alike.

So, let me ask you this. Are your decorations crammed into a box and stuck at the back of a cupboard once they’re taken down every year? If your answer is year, you’re far from alone. This represents the ideal opportunity to start your Christmas workplace safety early, because there might be manual handling concerns that need to be addressed before retrieving the box. Better safe than sorry, after all!

You also need to keep the common-sense flowing when you’re putting the decorations up. For example, don’t stand on a wheelie chair or a table. And make sure you don’t get your tinsel in a tangle before you set foot anywhere near the step ladders:

  • Inspect the step ladder before use
  • Check all steps are in good condition
  • Ensure all four step ladder feet are in contact with the ground and the steps are level
  • Make sure that any employees using step ladders are wearing suitable footwear (disco dancing shoes can wait till later)
  • Never overreach when using step ladders
  • See to it that three points of contact (hands and feet) of users retain contact with the step ladder at all times

In addition, fire is universally recognised as a common threat to Christmas workplace safety. So, it’s also worth considering any potential fire hazards when you’re putting the decorations up, (more on this below). 

And a final top tip in the Christmas decorations section… Avoid pinning any decorations into the walls or ceilings, especially if you work in an older building. There might be asbestos. And that’s something you don’t want to disturb!

All that Glitters

Christmas workplace safety can be unintentionally compromised in the excitement of putting the decorations up in the office. It can be tempting to just festive-ify anything and everything in sight.

Besides the tree, there’s the sparkly decorations, fairy lights and tinsel on and around individual desks. In addition, many people are also tempted to hang decorations from overhanging lights or around lamps.

Whilst this might look great, Christmas decorations are usually flammable, because they’re made from different types of plastic, card or paper. They can ignite when overhanging lights or radiators heat up. So, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid decorating these areas.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

Digging out the artificial Christmas tree from the stationery cupboard again? Take a moment to think about where you’re going to put it up.

Remember not to block any fire escapes or exits, and don’t place the tree next to a heat source such as radiators. On top of that, carry out a regular inspection, because as pretty as your tree looks, it’s a potential fire hazard.

A large Christmas tree decorated in red, white and gold, in a white room, surrounded by piles of red and white wrapped Christmas presents.

Ring Out Those Bells

Christmas workplace safety starts with preventing dangerous situations from happening. But it’s equally as important to have the correct procedures in place in case something does go wrong. Fire alarm testing is a key weapon in your armoury.

You should be testing your fire alarms year-round. But it takes on extra significance when there are more hazardous and flammable objects in the office at Christmastime.

Walking in an Unimpeded Wonderland

Whether you work in a warehouse or an office block, it’s important to keep all pathways and walkways clear.

This is so that everyone can move around freely and get out of the building if they need to, in case of an emergency. So, although decorations are merry and bright, be conscious of where you’re putting them so you don’t obstruct others.

And don’t forget about trailing wires and extension leads. They’re always a good source of workplace accidents, so remember:

  • Always visually inspect trailing wires and extension leads for damage before use
  • Ensure they aren’t a tripping hazard
  • Check that they aren’t overloaded
  • Never join multiple extension leads together

A snow scene with five glittery fir trees and the words “Merry Christmas & Happy New Year”

So, there you have it, a failproof guide to ‘sleighing’ Christmas workplace safety.

I wish you a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, however, you decide to decorate your office this season.

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