The holidays can be a lot of fun, but can also make the workplace more chaotic than normal: employees take time off, productivity suffers, and holiday events need planning. Amidst all this, sometimes safety comes secondary. Whether you’re decorating your office, attending the holiday party, or preparing food for the potluck, safety should always remain a priority. Here’s a few simple tips to keep your workplace safe this holiday season:
It’s so tempting to use your office chair to get the boost you need to place decorations in those hard to reach places…but don’t do it! Your office chair is not safe to stand on and you should use a suitable ladder instead. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has some great tips to help you be safe when working at heights.
Are you planning to hang decorative lights in your office or workspace? Be sure to inspect all lights and extension cords for any fraying or deterioration and don’t overload outlets. If you’re using long extension cords, be mindful when placing them in high traffic areas so that they’re not a trip risk. You also need to make sure there’s a plan for who turns off the lights at the end of the day - leaving them on unattended can present a fire hazard.
Everyone loves the piney smell of a fresh tree, but they require proper care and maintenance. You need to regularly water your tree to keep it from drying out and becoming a fire hazard. When you are placing your tree be sure to keep it away from heating vents and high traffic areas. If you can, place it somewhere where it’s out of the way of foot traffic and where you can secure it to the wall to make sure it doesn’t fall over.
If you plan to host an office potluck, make sure that everyone is aware of safe food handling practices. Posting a signup sheet for the potluck along with some basic food handling tips can be a good way to remind employees about food safety.
When you’re organizing the potluck, make sure you have a plan for how you’re going to keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Chafing dishes and slow cookers are great tools to keep hot foods at safe temperatures. Cold food should be stored on ice or served in small batches to keep them at a safe temperature.
Don’t forget about food allergies! If you have employees with severe food allergies, make sure to mention that in the potluck invitation. You don’t need to name the employee with the allergy and make it a big deal, but it’s a good idea to let employees know that their dishes should not contain seafood or nuts, for example, because of a food allergy.
Drug & Alcohol Policy
If you have a drug and alcohol policy, be sure to remind employees of this before any holiday event. If your policy states that employees cannot drink and go back to work, then you should expect to give employees the afternoon off if you’re hosting a lunch where drinks are served. Always be mindful of consumption as well. As the host, it’s your responsibility to ensure that employees aren’t over consuming and get home safely.
Keep safety in mind when planning your holiday festivities and have a safe and healthy holiday season!