The Health and Safety of Christmas Decorations
The festive season is almost upon us and the same question will be asked, will health and safety prevent our Christmas decorations and ruin our Christmas spirit?
The answer is no! We’ve put together some pointers so that when it comes to jazzing up your workplace this Christmas, it really will be easy to get right!
Attempting to decorate your workplace can present a series of risks indeed. Each year people are injured whilst decorating their tree and hanging their decorations, but this can be avoided by following some simple guidelines.
Working at height putting Christmas Decorations up?
- Provide your staff with suitable step ladders to put up Christmas decorations, rather than standing on desks or balancing on office chairs, easy win!
- As with any other instance of working at height, employees should always be careful not to over reach and ensure they’re sporting sensible footwear. Heals are a big no no!
- Get some help, have someone hold the bottom of the ladder (which has should have been inspected before use).
- Always make sure the tree is stable and secure, if your tree is real rather than artificial, you should also keep it well-watered, but do not water it while the lights are switched on!
Talking of lighting…
Your Christmas lights can deteriorate over time, bringing the risk of shocks, burns and could even be a potential fire hazard!
So before putting lights on the tree, you should always conduct a visual inspection, checking the condition of the wiring and ensuring that there aren’t any frayed/bare wires or broken/cracked sockets. If you are suitably trained, check the fuse protection rating at the plug top.
The use of a Residual Current Devise (RCD) is ideal, as is the purchase of a new set! 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 and remember to have them on a timer to switch them off.
Fire, a huge area of importance which needs to be considered when putting up your Christmas decorations, don’t hang/stick them:
- Too close to light fitting or heaters;
- Covering the fire detection sensor;
- Across doorways, make sure that trailing cables do not create a tripping hazard.
Use your common sense with this one and please, be extra vigilant.
Make sure that trees are sensibly placed, not close to potential sources of ignition and not blocking fire escape routes or exits.
- They must never be decorated with lit candles
- should always be set firmly in a suitable container so they don’t fall over
- Never located where they can cause an obstruction to the means of escape from the room/building;
- Natural Christmas trees can be extremely flammable, particularly as they dry out and should therefore be kept in a tree stand filled with water and adequately separated from heat source. Where possible use a flame retardant alternative, they aren’t only a far lesser risk, but also less hassle.
Aerosol cans (e.g. decorative paint, artificial snow etc.) use flammable propellants and must never be used near heat sources.
Party poppers are not considered a significant fire hazard but it is advised that they are not fired towards heat sources.
Did someone say party?
Most of us will be looking forward to letting our hair down at the Christmas party, a chance to eat drink and be merry! Rather than having this in your workplace it’s both safer and more practical to hold it at a local venue as sometimes it just isn’t worth the risks, of which there could be many.
Last but not least, enjoy yourself and have a very Merry Christmas!