‘Tis the Season for Workplace Safety

The holiday season can be one of the most prosperous times of year for many businesses, and increased activity in the workplace often means hiring temporary, seasonal employees. While this added workforce is an invaluable asset during such a busy time, it is important for companies to implement and enforce holiday-safety measures, as well as educate temporary employees about workplace hazards and their safeguards. 

Companies employ temporary workers throughout the year, but that number greatly increases during the holidays. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that temporary workers have increased over the past four months, averaging 18,000 workers per month from July to October in 2011. According to a news report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, last year in the retail industry alone, employment grew by nearly 630,000 jobs nationwide from October to December.

Temporary Employees Are New Employees

  • Even though time with the company may be brief, seasonal workers should receive the same level of training that new employees receive when they first start the job.
  • Start training the first day on the job to develop safe work behaviors in temporary employees. The more they know about proper equipment and procedures, the safer they will be.
  • Provide a clear and concise safety policy to temporary employees. They should know that doing the job safely is just as important as doing it correctly.
  • Ensure that temporary employees are comfortable with their managers and supervisors. They should always feel that they can approach management, no matter what question they may have.

Whether at work or at home, the holiday season provides increased opportunities for accidents and injuries. Employers should protect one of their greatest assets, their employees, by educating them about special holiday hazards. The following precautions will help businesses of all types keep regular and seasonal employees out of harm’s way during the holidays.

Don’t Add Fuel to the Holiday Fire

According to the United States Fire Administration, more than 400 people are killed and 1,650 are injured due to fire-related incidents during the holiday season. To prevent such accidents in the workplace, companies should be aware that holiday décor could contribute to fire mishaps. Follow these guidelines when decking the halls:

  • Thoroughly inspect all holiday lights, electric decorations, smoke detectors and fire-safety equipment before decorating.
  • Follow all manufacturers’ guidelines, and do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lights or displays
  • Use lights and electric decorations properly. Never use staples or nails to secure light strands or extension and power cords. If decorating outdoors, make sure lights are rated for exterior use.
  • Turn off and unplug all electric decorations when the office is closed.
  • Don’t block exits, emergency exits, hallway passages or sprinklers with any type of decoration.

O Christmas Tree—Fire Hazard?

  • Make sure trees get plenty of water, and remove brown needles and dry limbs. It is also a good idea to spray live trees with fire retardant before use and make sure artificial trees are flame-resistant.
  • Do not place trees or other flammable décor near fireplaces, candles or any other heat source.
  • Be aware that many holiday plants used for decorating, such as mistletoe, holly berries and some ivies, are poisonous and should be kept away from common areas where they may be accessible to children or pets.

Celebrating Safely

When celebrating with holiday parties at the office, make sure that there are adequate designated drivers or other means of transportation for those workers who consume alcohol:

  • Before hiring seasonal and temporary employees, make sure they understand and agree to comply with all of the company’s policies about alcohol use.

Taking these and other holiday safety precautions will ensure the workplace is a danger-free and festive environment for all workers.

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