Top Ten Tips for... Keeping the workplace safe this Christmas
Christmas is coming. And before we can enjoy a festive break with our friends and family we have to negotiate the holiday season at work. Decorations, Secret Santa, the office Christmas Party: will it be a Winter Wonderland or The Nightmare Before Christmas? Here are our top 10 tips for keeping the workplace safe this Christmas:
1. Take your time when putting up decorations
If you’re hanging up tinsel, paper chains or other decorations around the office, do it properly. Use a step ladder rather than a swivel chair. Better to take slightly longer and do things safely than rush and end up injuring yourself or others.
2. Decorations can be dangerous – stay safe
Over 1,000 people are injured every year by Christmas trees – so make sure they are secure and won’t be knocked over by people passing or pulling or tripping on cables. Don’t hang tinsel on computers or other heat sources and make sure that trees and decorations don’t block escape routes, fire extinguishers, emergency lights or emergency exit signs.
3. Check your lights
Make sure any new lights or electrical decorations conform to the appropriate British Standard and that they are in good condition by getting them inspected and tested as you would other portable appliances. Check the wires, plugs and strings of lights are not damaged or worn and replace anything you aren’t sure about.
4. Communicate clearly about the Christmas Party
If you’re having a Christmas Party, consider sending a communication before the event to confirm the arrangements but also use it as an opportunity to remind people of the dangers of excess alcohol consumption and the kind of behaviours that may be viewed as harassment. If you need people to take action make sure your email lists the actions within the first paragraph. Make it clear who needs to do each action and when they need to do them by.
5. Create a workplace social events policy
If you don’t already have one, think about putting a policy in place to cover your duty of care for employees under the Equality Act 2010 for workplace social events. Under this act an employer is liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by employees in the ‘course of employment’ unless the employer has taken reasonable steps to prevent such acts.
6. Be careful with food
Make sure you take proper care if you are serving food on your office premises for a Christmas Party or departmental lunchtime buffet celebration. Ask beforehand about special dietary requirements so these can be accommodated. Keep party food fresh in the fridge and keep certain foods separate (e.g. raw and cooked meat). Don’t leave highly perishable foods like turkey, trifles, salads and buffers out at room temperature for more than four hours. These foods can contain an array of bacteria if not kept at the right temperature and could make people ill if leftovers are eaten the next day.
7. Be careful with alcohol
Provide alcohol in moderate quantities and keep an eye on any ‘free bar’ to ensure that employees do not get drunk. Or limit the number of free drinks available using a ticketing system. Provide plenty of non-alcoholic drinks as an alternative.
8. Check your security lights
Empty offices are vulnerable over the Christmas holidays. It’s good practice to ensure your office can be lit on a timer and that all security lights are in good working order. Check all your sensors and timers carefully to provide maximum deterrent to potential burglars.
9. Keep your emergency contact list up to date
Make a list of everyone who needs access to the office over the Christmas period and give them emergency phone numbers in case there is a problem.
10. Check the premises thoroughly before you leave for Christmas
Decide who will carry out a thorough check of the premises on the last day before the Christmas holidays to ensure that all windows and doors are secure and that all alarms have been set.
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