The holidays are a time for joy and celebration. However, between colder weather, COVID-19, flu season, and office decorations, there are a handful of risks that could pose a threat to you and your employees. Take a look at our holiday safety tips for your business and learn ways to protect your employees during the winter holidays.
Ladder Safety. Whether you or your employees use a ladder for holiday decorating or everyday work, there are a few safety measures you can take to prevent accidents. First and foremost, never use a chair in place of a ladder. Ensure the ladder is set up on solid, sturdy ground and away from doors. Never stack a ladder on top of other objects to gain more height. Follow the 4-to-1 ladder rule by placing the base of the ladder one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height. If you’re using the ladder outdoors, remove any ice and make sure it is properly dried to prevent slipping.
Limit Outdoor Exposure. For industries like construction, where workers spend long periods outdoors, ensure your workers are taking adequate breaks from the cold. The body expends more energy in colder weather to keep warm, so extended exposure can lead to fatigue more quickly. As an employer, consider having your employees work shorter shifts during the cold weather. Shorter shifts can increase productivity while keeping your workers safe.
Decoration Safety. Decorating the office or workspace can be a fun way to bring the holiday spirit to work, but make sure you set up decorations with safety in mind. Slips and trips account for one of the top 10 most disabling workplace injuries, so make sure streamers, wires, and other decorative objects are clear of walkways and don’t cause tripping hazards.
Avoid blocking doorways and move decorations away from areas that would cause a fire hazard. Use battery-powered candles rather than an open flame. Be sure to unplug any decorations, like holiday lights, from outlets when unattended. Lastly, make sure smoke alarms are working properly.
COVID/Flu Safety. Each year, the flu poses a health risk, peaking between December and February, when the weather gets cold. This year, we have both the flu and COVID-19 to protect against. To stay safe this holiday season, be sure to properly and frequently wash your hands, maintain social distance, and wear a face covering. Avoid large holiday gatherings or potlucks where viruses are more easily transmitted.
Commute Safely. For much of the U.S., the holidays come with cold and potentially hazardous weather, like snow and sleet. The best way to stay safe while commuting to and from work during the holiday season is to be prepared.
If you drive to work, have a professional perform a diagnostic check on your vehicle. Checking things like antifreeze levels – to ensure your engine runs smoothly – and tire tread – to avoid sliding if there’s snowfall or icy roads – is critical to ensuring a safe winter commute.
Holiday Stress/Fatigue. As much as the holidays are about joy, they often bring additional stress. Holiday stress may stem from various sources, like planning family dinners, traveling, preparing presents, saving money, dealing with torrential weather, or even working longer hours.
Regardless of where your holiday nerves stem from, prolonged stress can lead to fatigue, which can be dangerous while working. To prevent fatigue and workplace injuries, manage stress by doing the following:
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night
- Avoid caffeine within 5 hours of bedtime
- Plan early and make arrangements ahead of time to avoid last-minute pressure
- Be mindful of eating and alcohol consumption habits
The risk of injury increases with many of the added hazards winter brings. The best way to avoid injury in the workplace is to be prepared and keep safety at the top of mind when decorating or having employees work in cold weather conditions. We wish you and your employees a happy and safe holiday season.