Safety First When Decorating Your Workplace for Holidays
As the holiday season rolls around again, your business will have new safety considerations to confront.
From holiday parties and risk of electrical shock to fires and trips and falls, companies have a set of safety and risk management challenges that may not be present during most of the year.
But decorating and decorations present their own specific safety challenges, and this is what you need to be aware of when decking your office's halls:
Safety while decorating
Keep all relevant OSHA regulations in mind when decorating your workplace: both when in the process of decorating and making sure you don't create new safety hazards that will last for the whole of December.
When your staff are decorating the office, ensure that they stick to the same safety guidelines that they would otherwise follow:
- Ladder safety - Make sure that employees don't stand on tables, desks or rolling desk chairs when hanging lights or other decorations. Insist that they use ladders and that they have a partner to hold the ladder when they are working on high.
- Keep walkways unobstructed - You may have boxes of Christmas decorations that you bring out every year, or you may purchase new decorations too. When employees are decorating, make sure they keep all walkways free of wires, cords, boxes or any of the material you are putting up. When people are working in a disorderly fashion, they can easily trip and fall.
- Install wisely - Also make sure that employees do not put up decorations in a way that can impede movement of your workforce or office visitors, create trip hazards or expose staff to getting caught in the decorations.
- Unobstructed exits - Do not place any type of decorative items in exit corridors or on sprinklers. It's essential to verify that none of your decorations block exit signage or fire safety equipment.
- Consider an artificial tree, which poses less risk than a live one.
- If you have a live tree, make sure that it is properly watered so it doesn't dry out, which makes it a fire hazard.
- Live trees can be safer when sprayed with flame retardant.
- Put your tree in an area that doesn't impede foot traffic or movement of workers.
- Don't put live trees near heat sources such as space heaters, where they can dry out and pose a greater fire hazard.
- Use LED lights. Not only do they burn cool, they are also more economical because they only use 10% of the electricity consumed by other bulbs.
- Use lights that are recommended by a reputable testing laboratory. Such lights are usually labeled "UL" or "ETL".
- Prior to use, inspect lights and extension cords for defects or damage. Check for loose connections, cracked or broken sockets and bare or frayed wires. Workers should report all defects to their supervisor.
- Immediately replace burnt-out bulbs with ones that have the same wattage. Unplug Christmas lights when replacing bulbs.
- Make sure you don't create a maze of wires, cords and plugs when plugging in festive lighting.
- Never use outdoor lights indoors.
- Ensure Christmas lights and other electrical outdoor decorations are plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter. This device helps prevent electric shock and fire.
- Never use nails or tacks to secure cords of lights. Also, don't run strings of lights through hooks.
- Never pull on a string of Christmas lights.
- Always turn off Christmas lights before leaving the business premises. Never leave them on overnight.
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