Christmas is a special time of year and many businesses love to get into the festive spirit by putting up Xmas tress, lights and decorations. However even at this time of the year Health and Safety is important BUT it is often wrongly cited as why certain activities can’t take place. This can dampen the Xmas mood and also trivialise health and safety. So we thought we’d take a look at the top business Xmas health and safety myths which are taken from media reports and correspondence received by the HSE.
No Xmas decorations
Every year the HSE receive reports that some companies ban their workers from putting up Xmas decorations citing health and safety reasons. Some companies go as far as to say that only a qualified person can safely decorate the office!
The majority of companies and businesses can safely decorate their business space. As with all activities as long as this is done sensibly i.e. using suitable ladders rather than office chairs to reach up there is little risk to the individual or the business.
Xmas lights need to be PAT tested every year
Many businesses waste money in the false belief that they need to test their Christmas lights every year otherwise they can’t use them! Again this is a myth. By simply following a few sensible precautions, such as checking for obvious signs of damage, worn wiring etc. every business can safely put up their lights and bring some Xmas sparkle to the workplace!
Clearing snow outside businesses
It’s been reported that some business avoid clearing pavements and walkways during the winter period when it’s been snowing and paths and pavements can be icy – for fear of being sued if someone slips and falls.
As a consequence the Health and Safety Executive issued a statement encouraging businesses to adopt a common sense approach to health and safety, saying “clearing the snow and ice…makes it easier for people to get about.”
“The HSE is focused on the real safety risks at work, and we think it is ridiculous that people should feel prevented from helping others, through a fear of being held responsible for an accident.”
Using common sense
So with the above in mind it’s wise to use a common sense approach to health and safety dos and don’ts over the festive period (the same as at any other time of year)!
Don’t believe everything you read or hear! Health and safety laws exist to provide safeguards against staff and members of the public from being injured or becoming unwell at work. They are not there to put a stop to festive cheer. On that note, we’d like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year with lots of Xmas decorations and festive lights!