‘Tis the Season for Workplace Safety

By Woody Hill | November 7, 2014

The holiday season can be one of the most prosperous times of year for many businesses.

Increased activity in the workplace often means hiring temporary, seasonal employees. Continued employment gains across all industries and increased consumer spending are expected to boost demand for seasonal workers this year, according to global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. In its annual holiday hiring forecast, Challenger expects seasonal employment gains in the retail sector to significantly outpace 2013, when 786,200 workers were added to retail payrolls during the final three months of the year.

While this added workforce is an invaluable asset during busy times, it is important for companies to implement holiday safety measures as well as educate temporary employees about workplace hazards and their safeguards. Even though time with the company may be brief, seasonal workers should receive the same level of training that new employees receive.

The following safety measures and precautions will help employers keep seasonal as well as regular employees safe during the holidays:

  • Start training the first day on the job. The more employees know about proper equipment and procedures, the safer they will be.
  • Provide a clear and concise safety policy. Temporary employees should know that doing the job safely is just as important as doing it correctly.
  • Ensure that temporary employees are comfortable approaching their managers and supervisors with any questions or concerns they have.

The holiday season causes an increase in opportunities for accidents and injuries. According to the U.S. 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 of the fire hazards that holiday décor can create and educate their employees about them:

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

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

Woody Hill is the vice president of safety services for Austin-based workers’ compensation insurer, Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

Topics Commercial Lines Business Insurance

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