4 Common Holiday Workplace Safety Issues
Safety hazards increase during the holidays, which may mean problems for your business. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can keep safety—and sustainability—in the forefront of your operations.
The holidays are an opportunity to show your employees that you appreciate and care about them. They are also, unfortunately, a time of increased workplace safety hazards. In this blog, we will look at some common safety and waste challenges and analyze the ways in which they can be mitigated without dimming celebrations.
Industrial Holiday Safety
Workplace accidents increase between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, for a number of reasons. We’ll review some common safety challenges—and potential solutions—below.
Problem One: Fatigue and Stress
Year’s end is often a busy time for many organizations. There is typically a rush to finish projects, close deals, or produce year-end results. Employees may work longer than usual hours to finish tasks, take on additional responsibilities, or earn extra money.
This added stress contributes to fatigued employees—and overtired workers may be inattentive. This inattentiveness can increase workplace risks as workers cut corners to complete tasks without proper adherence to safety protocols. For example, weary drivers are three times more likely to be in a car crash than well-rested ones.
During the holidays, consider requiring bonus work breaks and ensure employees stay extra-vigilant. Sponsor formal discussions to go over the unique safety needs of your workers in order to implement a plan that works for all.
Problem Two: Driving Challenges
Increased traffic during the holidays can cause driving hazards for all, especially truckers. People may be driving more to shop, rushing to pick up gifts, or visit—which means more hurried and harassed people on the road. This increases the risk of accidents—and thus, injury—for truckers, drivers, and pedestrians.
The threat of accidents also escalates when there is inclement winter weather. Snow, ice, and slush—even a light dusting—are responsible for 24% of weather-related accidents. On top of that, 70% of roads in the United States run through regions that see more than five inches of snow annually.
Minimize travel and transportation as much as possible during the holidays. Avoid sending drivers out in wintry conditions unless necessary. Discuss these special seasonal road safety needs with drivers, and consider extra trainings or safety checks.
Problem Three: Inexperienced or Temporary Workers
Often, organizations must bring in temporary workers to meet the increased holiday demands. These workers tend to have less experience and training then full-time staffers. The unfamiliarity of temporary workers with safety protocols and initiatives leaves them particularly prone to harmful mistakes—which may mean catastrophe to themselves, other employees, or business operations overall.
Dedicate time to the thorough training of every employee that is brought on—regardless of the length of their contract, their previous experience, their projects, or their company role. Hire seasonal workers as early as possible so they can attend all relevant training sessions before they start productive work.
Problem Four: Decorating Dangers
It is tempting to spread holiday cheer with office decorations—be careful, however, as about 160 decorating injuries happen daily between Thanksgiving and New Year's. The most common of these injuries are from falls.
On top of decorating injuries, fires cause about $56 million in annual property loss. These fires light from dry or flammable Christmas trees as well as from unattended seasonal candles and menorahs. Fires threaten staff safety and may cause loss of time and inventory, particularly in facilities that are heavily-stocked during the holiday season. In facilities with hazardous and flammable chemicals, even small fires can quickly become infernos.
To prevent decoration-related falls, use an appropriately sized and sturdy ladder to hang any holiday décor. Christmas tree blazes can be prevented by using fire-resistant plastic trees or maintaining a proper watering schedule for real trees—and always making sure to unplug holiday lights when you leave the office. Candle use should be minimized—consider using battery powered candles versus those with wicks, but at the very least assign someone to check that all candles are extinguished before leaving for the evening.
Have a Safe and Sustainable Holiday Season
These tips can help keep you, your organization, and your employees safe and healthy in the coming weeks. For more safety ideas, particularly regarding holiday season waste reduction, read our "5 Eco-Friendly Tips for the Holidays" blog. Have a great, safe, and sustainable holiday!