Promoting safety during holiday decorating in the workplace

Decorating work spaces can be a great way to boost employee morale and spread the holiday spirit. However, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), November and December also bring a greater need for workplace safety resources.

The CPSC estimates that nearly 12,000 consumers on average are treated in hospital emergency rooms across the country due to holiday decorating incidents each year.

For instance, dried out Christmas trees can be a fire hazard, something that results in hundreds of fires, an average of 17 deaths and $13 million in property damage on an annual basis. Meanwhile, candles also can pose a fire risk, associated with 150 deaths and $385 million in property damage.

In addition to complying with all Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, businesses may also want to think of commonsense ways to make sure holiday decorating stays safe and fun for all workers.

Focusing on fire
Fire safety will likely be an employer’s primary concerns when it comes to the workplace. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce the chances of fire.

First and foremost, businesses may want to ensure no employees incorporate open flames into their holiday decorations.

Consider the lights you and your employees hang up throughout the workplace. Making sure lights are certified and tested for safety is one good way to reduce risks, as is purchasing them from a reputable retailer.

You may want to inspect lights for cracks, loose wires or damaged sockets before using them, as these defects could increase the chance of fire.

It also may be a good idea to nominate someone at your workplace whose job it is to make sure all lights are turned off when people leave for the night. Leaving lights burning at all hours can increase electricity bills.

While Arizona has no specific law regarding workplace fire drills, fall and winter may offer an opportunity to make sure workers are up to date on what to do in case of a fire. OSHA requires organizations with 10 or more employees to have written fire prevention and emergency exit plans. Businesses may want to make sure these are in order, as well as test out any fire equipment to ensure it’s in working order.

Preventing injury
Fires are not the only risk associated with holiday decorations.

Businesses may want to think about how workplace decorating could make the office a more cluttered environment, potentially leading to tripping hazards. If numerous decorations are placed around a work space, the odds that someone may bump into them and fall are increased. Employees will likely want workers to do their best to decorate with safety in mind. For example, decorations should not block or interfere with building entryways or exits. In the event that an emergency arises, employees need to be able to exit a building quickly and calmly.

Mostly, a little common sense can go a long way toward making workplace decorating safer. For instance, it’s easy for employees to get carried away with the holiday spirit, so managers might want to ensure workers are limited in where and how much they can decorate.

Additionally, businesses may want to ensure workers make safety a primary concern during the process of decorating ,especially when employees are using ladders, plugging in lights and other activities.

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