If you’re expecting Howlett Health and Safety Services’- Health and Safety Consultants in London to confirm the oft-quoted myth that putting up Christmas lights is a violation of some sort of health and safety legislation, don’t worry – that is definitely not true. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t important health and safety considerations to consider in the workplace during the festive season.
The workplace at Christmas introduces a number of additional hazards, but with a bit of common sense and the right practical advice, they shouldn’t be too hard to deal with.
Attempting to decorate the office presents a series of risks – indeed, each year sees around 1,000 people injured whilst decorating their Christmas tree. Particularly at fault is the tendency to overreach when trying to decorate the highest branches.
As with any other instance of working at height, employees should always use an appropriate step ladder and be careful not to over reach. If your office tree is real rather than artificial, you should also keep it well-watered – but don’t water it while the lights are switched on!
Christmas lights can deteriorate over time, bringing the risk of shocks and burns. That’s why, before putting yours on the tree, you should always conduct a visual inspection, checking the condition of the wiring and ensuring that there aren’t any frayed or bare wires or broken or cracked sockets. You might also find it appropriate to carry out a portable appliance test on this appliance prior to use. See guidance from the HSE.
It is a good idea these days to switch from your regular 240V mains lighting to low-voltage lighting, which removes the risk of a fatal electric shock.
We all look forward to the office Christmas party – well, most of us. Generally speaking, it’s both safer and more practical to book your party at a local pub, restaurant or hotel. This should ideally be on a day that isn’t followed by a normal working day, given the risk of absenteeism by those employees who inevitably end up having one too many.
Alcohol consumption is always likely to be high, but can be limited through the use of a drinks token system or restrictions to the number of free drinks. Remember that you may have breached your duty of care as an employer if your staff are allowed to drive home having clearly drunk over the legal limit.
Talk to Howlett Health and Safety Services’ – Health and Safety Consultants in London about how you can ensure the utmost safety of your workplace, both this Yuletide and all year round.