As the Christmas holidays approach, employees tend to deal with more distractions than usual as festive activities can easily cause people’s minds to wander when they’re at work. From a health and safety perspective, it’s worth considering how these issues affect workers on the floor, on site, on the road or at home and what you can do to minimise increased safety issues and ensure Christmas safety in the workplace is adhered to.
Increased alcohol intake
Work and family gatherings are often an opportunity for people to have a few drinks-but it’s imperative that nobody is allowed to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. No employer wants their workers involved in a car crash. Alcohol affects your vision, judgement, concentration, coordination and reaction time and that’s why you shouldn’t operate dangerous machinery or tools if you’ve been drinking. You need to be alert and in control to make sure that you’re not putting yourself or others at risk.
With the busy Christmas period, some employers need to bring in temporary staff to cover. Businesses and self-employed people using temporary workers must provide the same level of health and safety protection for them as they do for employees and employers should ensure that all staff are reminded of company policies and all required training is duly completed.
Slips and trips
It is important for employers to make sure that decorations do not compromise the safety of employees in the workplace. Christmas decorations can often lead to cables and other obstructions across walkways, which increase the chance of accidents in the workplace. Ensure that all emergency exits are kept clear and that any decorations are securely put up; depending on the extent of the decorations, it may be worth factoring them into any risk assessments.
A cold workplace isn’t just annoying; it can be dangerous. It is because of this that HSE suggests how cold they think a workplace should be. For most workplaces, HSE recommends a minimum temperature of 16 degrees Celsius. However, if the work involves “rigorous physical effort”, then HSE suggests a minimum temperature of 13 degrees Celsius. HSE also points out that these temperatures are not a legal requirement. It is ultimately the responsibility of the employer to decide how cold is too cold.
MSD’s and injuries from lifting
During the Christmas period, with new stock flooding into a business, more employees are lifting more objects more frequently than at any other time of the year, which can result in injury. A major cause of MSDs is poor manual handling and this can happen when people are inexperienced or untrained and they fail to plan a task properly. Make sure all staff are trained in manual handling and all additional risk assessments are carried out and documented.
For further information on Christmas safety in the workplace and any other health and safety issues, please contact us here.