10 Holiday Safety Tips You’ll be Thankful For
Last modified on November 13th, 2023
Holiday Safety Tips for your Workplace and Home
The holiday season is around the corner, and that means fun, celebration and relaxation – but if there’s one thing that could put a damper on holiday cheer, it’s a workplace accident. Getting ready for the holidays means breaking from routines, so safety precautions people take every day may fall by the wayside. To prevent risks from cropping up, we’re sharing our 10 holiday safety tips to help you and your employees stay healthy and happy.
Workplace Safety Hazards During the Holiday Season
Employees often come under extra stress during the holidays. Late-night shopping sprees with children, holiday parties with friends and putting up holiday decorations can all lead to overpacked schedules. Among other hazards, employees often skimp on sleep and fail to get enough rest during the weekends, which can cause fatigue that bleeds into their job performance. Accidents become more likely as fatigued employees are less careful and focused on the job at hand.
Add that to the fact that many companies experience their busy seasons around the holidays, meaning employees are often expected to work longer hours to meet holiday output demands. Workers might find themselves straining or taking shortcuts to get more work done faster, which not only puts potentially dangerous pressure on their bodies, it also increases the likelihood of a harmful slip, fall or other injury.
It’s for these reasons employers should take extra care during the holidays to identify safety hazards and take proactive steps to mitigate the possibility of a workplace injury.
10 Holiday Safety Tips You Should Consider
Consider the following seven seasonal safety tips to help prevent the most common workplace safety hazards and keep your employees safe during the holidays:
1. Watch Out for Obstructed Paths and Other Mobility Hazards
Walkways are often a little narrower during the holiday season than at other times. Extra stock in warehouses, special displays on retail sales floors, decorations in offices – these potential obstructions all increase the chances that someone might trip and fall. The key to slip, trip and fall management is the same in the holiday season as at any time of year, meaning you should inspect walking areas often to ensure they’re safe, and not let any hazards get in the way of an unobstructed path.
2. Be Sure To Handle Heavy Loads Safely
Hauling an increased volume of boxes in the warehouse or switching out fall decorations for winter ones can involve picking up heavier loads than employees are used to. People who don’t normally pick up large objects may not go about this process in a safe way, putting themselves at greater risk of a back injury. A reviewing effective lifting techniques can prevent workers from making simple but costly mistakes, such as twisting their bodies or making jerky, sudden movements. Taking items off of high shelves requires extra risk, so it’s always best to test the weight of an item before getting it down.
3. Watch Your Step on Ladders
Setting up decorations doesn’t just mean hauling heavy objects out of storage – it may also involve lifting these items up onto the roof or stringing lights from the ceiling. It’s normal for employees to climb ladders during the holidays, even if they stay at ground level most of the year. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that more than 300 people die each year falling from ladders, and more than 500,000 people receive injuries that require treatment due to such falls and other mishaps. Ladders are an added source of risk if people don’t work with them safely, so as the holiday season gets underway, a quick refresher is in order in any workplace that uses them.
4. Stay on Guard Against Distracted Driving
The holidays can be a challenging time for drivers. The roads are full of people traveling for the season or doing last-minute shopping and the sun sets earlier each day, leading to more low-visibility driving. As the end of the year approaches, it’s worth taking a few moments to remember the risks of distracted driving and commit to staying safe on the roads. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put the danger into numbers – 3,142 people were killed in accidents involving distracted drivers in 2020.
5. Use Electricity Safely
Changing things up around the office and plugging in new decorations can be a fun way to celebrate the holiday season, but you have to take care not to overtax electrical outlets when hooking up the lights. Power outlets are not able to safely handle too many electrical devices at once, and all cords should be inspected to make sure they aren’t worn, frayed or otherwise damaged. Whether you’re plugging in a string of lights during the holidays or bringing out an electrical power tool any other time of year to do some renovations around the office, safe and responsible use of electricity is a must for avoiding unnecessary risk.
6. Make Sure Employees Avoid Overexertion
Across industries and around the world, the winter holidays are a busy time. Companies are scrambling to finish the year on a fiscal high note and, especially in retail, performance during these few months can make or break the business’s outlook for the immediate future. All of this may exert pressure on workers to provide “more” – more time, more effort, more activity of all kinds. It pays not to let “more” turn into too much, though. Workplace leaders should make sure their teams are still getting a good work-life balance and potentially set policies to ensure everyone gets some time to relax during this hectic season.
7. Prioritize Mental Health and Stress Management
The holiday season, while festive for many, can also be a period of loneliness and heightened stress. This emotional volatility can adversely influence cognitive functions, affecting an employee’s ability to make rational and safe decisions. Provide your team with access to stress management webinars, mindfulness sessions or mental health days.
Holiday celebrations often revolve around food, turning the workplace into a fertile ground for potential foodborne illnesses if safety measures are sidelined. Establish protocols for food storage, preparation and sharing. Food safety is not an area where corners can be cut; make it a priority by educating staff and implementing checks to ensure compliance.
Winter weather means sealed buildings to conserve heat, setting the stage for declining indoor air quality. The impact goes beyond discomfort, though, leading to tangible health problems like headaches, fatigue and respiratory issues. These symptoms, in turn, can diminish worker focus and elevate the risk of accidents. Invest in quality air purification systems and make regular HVAC maintenance a standard practice.
Winter holidays coincide with a season of unpredictable weather. This can bring unexpected hazards, especially for commuting employees. Snowstorms, icy conditions and other adverse weather anomalies warrant a detailed and actionable severe weather plan. Implement a strategy that outlines remote work options, emergency contacts and, of course, safe commuting guidelines. This way, you’re being proactive in mitigating risks and providing employees with a clear course of action during dangerous conditions.
Bonus Tip: Identify All Fire Safety Hazards
Workplaces during the holidays often turn into a bazaar of lights. Employees might celebrate with a Christmas tree, light strings or even a lit candle by their workstation. These decorations can lead to serious fire safety hazards if not properly monitored. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employees should be trained to properly dispose of all flammable materials and avoid behaviors likely to cause a fire (like leaving burning candles unattended). In the event of a fire, employees should understand how to use fire safety equipment and know all evacuation routes and procedures to remove themselves from a burning building safely.
Putting Safety at the Top of Your Holiday Wish List
Safety should be a top priority for employers at all times of the year, but they should be especially focused during the holiday season. Investing in a comprehensive training program is one of the most effective steps employers can take to remove possible job hazards and keep employees safe during one of the busiest – yet happiest – times of the year.
At FFVA Mutual, we offer policyholders a robust selection of safety training videos and no-cost safety training courses they can use to train their employees on safety best practices. Our online safety course offerings include:
- Interactive webcasts.
- Online short talks for safety committees.
- Safety videos.
Not only can a comprehensive training program help keep employees safe on the job, it also demonstrates you have a workplace that prioritizes employee health and well-being. This can go a long way toward boosting hiring and retention practices for management teams.
Getting through the holidays safely means going into the New Year refreshed and ready for whatever comes next. While the excitement and novel routines associated with the season may present a few additional safety hazards, there’s nothing complicated about planning for and reducing the risks – especially this time of year.
No matter how you plan to spend the holiday season, both at work and at home, you can refer back to these holiday safety tips to make sure you and your co-workers and family members are prepared and safe. To learn more about workplace safety, visit our safety page or contact a Solutionist.