Common Holiday Hazards within the Workplace
As we move into the holiday season most people’s thoughts turn to things like gift giving, spending time with family, and other enjoyable things. While at the workplace, however, it is important to maintain a strong focus on safety to help ensure that accidents and injuries don’t ruin anyone’s holidays.
OSHA recently released a memo for retailers regarding employee/crowd safety during Black Friday and the Holidays – Click HERE to read it.
With this in mind, take some time to look into the following holiday hazards and go through this checklist to make sure you’ve done all you can to improve the safety of our facility. With the right planning, there are many things you can do to help improve the overall safety of your facility this season.
Cold Weather Safety
In most parts of the country, the holiday season also means that the colder weather is going to be moving in. With it can come lots of snow, ice and frigid temperatures that you need to keep in mind whenever thinking about safety. The following are some simple safety tips related to cold weather that you can consider this as part of your holiday hazard prevention:
- Vehicle Preparation – Make sure your facility vehicles are prepared for the cold. Getting a tune-up now can help to avoid problems later.
- Ice Prevention – If people are working outside, it is important to prevent ice from forming as much as possible. Using salt or other things to help reduce the ice can prevent many slip and fall accidents.
- Cold Weather PPE – During the holiday season, the personal protection equipment used by the employees should include cold weather gear. Gloves, hats and waterproof boots can help prevent hypothermia, frostbite and many other potential problems.
Holiday Party Safety
Many facilities will hold one or more holiday parties this time of year. These parties are a great way to say thank you to the employees and do some team building all at the same time. While there certainly are a lot of reasons to enjoy these parties, you need to think about safety as well. The following simple points can help to ensure your holiday party doesn’t end in disaster:
- Check for Allergies – Many people have extremely severe allergies to things like peanuts. Take some time to see what allergies are present in your facility, and plan to avoid those foods.
- Don’t Put Safety on Hold – When holding any type of holiday party at work, it can be tempting to pull as many people off of their normal job duties to enjoy the festivities. Make sure you don’t pull off essential safety personal without having someone else in place to perform their role.
- Keeping Food Safe – In many facilities there are potentially dangerous chemicals that are used. If they come in contact with the food, it could create a poisoning hazard. Before the party, consider using an industrial label maker to print safety signs reminding people to wash their hands before enjoying the food. Also, remind them not to take food out onto the work floor.
Holidays are an Emotional Time
Another significant holiday hazard is that of workplace violence. The holidays are a very stressful and emotional time for many people, and this can cause them to lose control while at work. Taking precautions to watch out for any warning signs can be a great first step in reducing the risk.
Remember, family problems, money problems and other issues that are often compounded around the holidays can take a toll on just about anyone. Keeping an eye out for any signs of emotional distress or actual violence is very important for the overall safety of the facility.
Whether you’re walking or driving, you are undoubtedly going to experience times of limited vision during this time of year. It could be caused by a snow storm, a rain storm, fog or any number of other things, but without proper precautions, it will likely end in disaster.
The following are some important limited vision issues to address whenever considering holiday hazards in the workplace:
- Covered Obstacles – When walking or driving outside this time of year you are at significantly increased risk of driving over, or tripping on a covered obstacle. Things like curbs or speed bumps can be covered by snow or leaves, leaving you blind to their danger. To avoid this problem, consider putting up safety signs to alert people to their presence.
- Carrying Objects – Many businesses are busier than ever during the holidays, which means employees may have to carry additional items throughout the workplace. Trying to stack them up to high can limit your vision severely so always keep in mind that it is better to make multiple trips than to trip and fall.
- Natural Vision Impairments – As mentioned above, there are many times when the air is foggy, rainy or snowy so you are unable to see the way you normally could. While this time of year does bring with it a lot of extra work and the need to get things done fast, it is far better to slow down and take your time so you don’t end up falling or getting into an accident.
Bringing the Outdoors In
Most people do know that while they are outside in the rain, snow or ice that they need to be extra careful. Once people get inside, however, they often stop taking extra precautions and begin walking or working like normal. This can be a very dangerous mistake.
When people walk in from the outside, they almost always track snow or water in with them, which can cause the floor to become very slippery. The worse the conditions outside, the further inside the water will come. To keep the workplace safe, there are a number of things you can do to limit the risk:
- Improve Traction – Installing anti-slip floor marking tape (which you can find here) that is designed to add traction to the floor is an excellent idea. Installing floor marking tape around the entrance of the building will help prevent people from slipping and falling.
- Floor Dryers – Using a heated fan that will blow along the floor can help to get the water up and off the ground quickly so that it doesn’t spread. The faster the water can be evaporated, the less risk there will be.
- Safety Signs – Of course, you should always put up a sign that alerts people to the risk of a wet floor (similar to this). Depending on the situation, you can either use a removable sign or one that stays at the entrance throughout the holiday season.
Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season
When you take all of these things into consideration, and do all you can to reduce all the holiday hazards, you can help to ensure everyone has a safe season. Most people will find that with a little extra time and care, it is not difficult to cut back on the safety risks that are common this time of year.
The important thing is to make sure you do not get caught up with the busyness of the season and put workplace safety on the back burner. Remember, when the workplace is busy, safety is more important than ever. When given proper attention, you will be able to get all the work done while still keeping everyone in the facility nice and safe.