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25 holiday health & safety tips for work and home

Holiday preparations and celebrations come hand in hand with hazards - fire, slips, trips and falls, winter blues, driving on ice and snow. Ensure your holiday season stays festive at work and at home by keeping health and safety top of mind. Here are 25 tips to help you, your employees and your family stay safewhile enjoying the holidays.

Fire safety

  1. Check holiday decorations, lights and extension cords for damage before using. Replace any item that appears questionable.
  2. Make sure decorations and artificial trees are flame resistant or non-combustible. Using a “real” tree? Keep it well watered.
  3. Don’t overload electrical outlets. They can overheat and start a fire. Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) when plugging in outdoors.
  4. Don’t block aisles, exits, exit signs or sprinklers with decorations.
  5. Double check the working condition of smoke and CO2 detectors, sprinklers and fire extinguishers. Make replacing batteries an annual habit.
  6. Before leaving work or home, turn off all indoor and outdoor decorations. Blow out any candles.

Slips, trips and falls

  1. Don’t place holiday displays, decorations, trees or electrical cords where people may trip; use a ladder to reach high places.
  2. Keep entrances, steps, exits, walkways, parking lots and loading docks clear of snow, ice and water. Keep related supplies, such as sand, salt and shovels, close at hand.
  3. Make sure outdoor areas have adequate lighting, fixtures are clean, and timers have been adjusted for additional hours of darkness.
  4. Wear proper outdoor footwear - well-insulated, waterproof, thick, non-slip tread soles made of natural rubber, with wide low heels.

Stress and the blues

  1. Schedule work deadlines away from the holidays.
  2. Encourage employees to take frequent breaks, especially in retail and hospitality settings.
  3. Know the signs of depression and how to approach a person who may be depressed.
  4. Provide full-spectrum lamps and information on seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  5. Share company and community mental health resources and services that people can tap into.
  6. Find ways to say “Thank You” to those working over the holidays. Increase contact with employees working alone.
  7. Make sure employees understand your violence and harassment policy and procedures, especially if employees interact with the public.
  8. Boost morale and spirit by adding some fun to the workplace during the holiday season.

Road safety

  1. Limit alcohol at workplace parties. Ensure all employees have a way to get home safely. Consider distributing taxi chits.
  2. Use snow tires. All season tires can stiffen in the cold and provide less traction.
  3. Check your vehicle’s battery, antifreeze, wipers, windshield washer fluid, brakes and defroster before heading out.
  4. Carry a winter storm kit - blankets, flashlight, cellphone with charger and extra batteries, shovel, first-aid kit, non-perishable food, extra warm clothes, and water container.
  5. Monitor weather reports for advance warning of bad weather. Adjust your plans accordingly.
  6. Allow more time to get to where you are going and keep a safe distance from other cars.
  7. Note employees’ or family members’ driving destinations, routes and estimated time of arrival.