Decorating your workplace for the holidays? Follow these 12 safety tips

Oct 06, 2015

holiday decoratingCelebrating holidays with decorations introduces a sense of fun and energy into retail outlets, restaurants, offices, and any other place where people congregate. But before you start putting up those decorations - or assign someone else to do it - WSPS consultant Andrew Moffett suggests applying the same health and safety principles here that you would apply to any new workplace activity. Here's what Moffett recommends.

Before you start decorating

  1. Consider all possible hazards and eliminate or control as many as possible beforehand.
  2. Prepare the space. If you're building inventory for holiday shoppers at the same time, figure out how and where to store everything safely. Keep aisles and emergency exits clear.
  3. If you're not doing the work yourself, ensure supervisors or employees have the training and skills to do it safely.
  4. If you contract the decorating to an outside company, ensure they comply with all regulatory requirements. You're considered their employer under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  5. Schedule the decorating for a time when the space is comparatively free of traffic, especially customers. Build in enough time to complete the tasks so that people don't feel pressured to take shortcuts.
  6. Inspect all decorations, electrical cords, smoke detectors, and fire safety equipment before decorating. Check lighting for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Replace damaged or broken items.
  7. Use decorations that are safe for employees and customers. Are they child- and pet-proof? Holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly berries and some ivy are poisonous.

During installation

  1. Eliminate slip and trip hazards by keeping aisles and walkways free of clutter and securing electrical cords and cables.
  2. Eliminate fall hazards by ensuring people who are working 3 metres or more from the ground use proper fall protection devices and equipment. If people are climbing up and down ladders, check out WSPS' ladder resources for training tips and tools.
  3. Avoid electrical hazards by using the right cords for the purpose. Don't overburden them. Turn off and unplug all electric decorations when the facility is closed.
  4. Prevent fires by ensuring your decorating plans are in line with the existing fire prevention plan. For example, keep sprinkler heads clear of obstructions and decorations away from heat sources, and ensure fire extinguishers are up to date and accessible.
  5. Steer clear of lighting hazards by installing and using lights according to manufacturers' instructions. Never use staples or nails to secure light strands or extension and power cords. If decorating outdoors, use only lights rated for exterior use.

"Install your displays, banners, signage, lighting, and cables safely," says Moffett, "and you and your customers will enjoy them for the entire season."

How WSPS can help

Our consultants can help you assess hazards, identify solutions, and help you implement them. Check out our full slate of consulting services, training resources and complementary downloads on our website.