November 27, 2013

Be safe with your office Christmas decorations

With Christmas fast approaching, soon many of you will be bringing a sparkle to even the darkest of offices.

We want to ensure you enjoy the fun and festivities at Christmas with those close to you. To make certain Christmas goes with a “controlled bang”, we have produced some simple guidelines for you to consider when decorating your workplace

Christmas Trees…

Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes, real and artificial. Whichever, you chose, ensure it doesn’t cause any injuries this year.

We recommend:

  • That you plan it out – allow sufficient space for erecting and dressing the tree.
  • If the tree is heavy and awkward to move consider options such as using trolleys. If lifting the tree consider manual handling hazards.
  • You make sure the tree is made secure and unlikely to topple over. The base must be rigid and the tree firmly fixed.
  • Care is taken regarding irritation caused by the tree material or chemicals sprayed on real trees. Workers susceptible to irritation should avoid such activities.
  • When dressing the tree use only flame retardant tinsel and non-combustible decorations.
  • Take care with baubles and items with potential to break causing cuts.

Hanging the Decorations

Traditionally many decorations are hung from ceilings and other high places. To enable staff to pin up the string of cards and tinsel, items such as chairs, tables or boxes are often used to gain additional height.

You should:

  • Use the correct type of step ladders for the task, fitted with handrails if possible; avoid improvising ie using furniture and fittings.
  • Ensure employees have received appropriate training for safe use of steps.
  • Inspect steps before use for signs of damage.
  • When using the steps:
  • Plan the task, clear the area.
  • If working behind a door warn others of activity.
  • Set up the steps on level ground/flooring.
  • Get a second person to foot steps providing stability.
  • Use three points of contact when climbing, arrange for others to pass the decorations to you.
  • Don’t overstretch, move the steps.
  • If working outside consider weather conditions, slippery surfaces etc.
  • Hanging decorations should not interfere with electrical fittings, lights, heaters etc
  • Do not hang decorations on main thoroughfares where people will have to duck to avoid collision with them.

Electrical Hazards

Any electrically powered decorations such as lights, lanterns festivity scenes etc have potential to cause an electric shock.

We recommend inspecting all items before plugging them in and switching on. Ensure you examine:

  • The plug, look for damage to the casing and security of wiring.
  • The flex or cabling, look for damaged insulation, bare wires or any other sign of damage.
  • With fuses, make sure the correct amperage fuse is fitted.
  • Avoid the use of multiple electrical adaptors.
  • Uncoil all wiring.
  • Avoid trailing cables across walkways.
  • Ensure all items are switched off at night or when the workplace is unattended for long periods.
  • If lights are for exterior displays, ensure they are specifically designed for outdoor use.
  • Consider the use of safety devices such as an RCB.

Fire

Decorations are placed anywhere and everywhere to brighten up the workplace. When deciding what goes where consider fire safety. Your workplace should be fitted with suitable types of portable fire fighting equipment and sufficient in quantity.

We recommend:

  • Avoid draping or placing decorations on or near to electrical heaters, gas fires or naked flames.
  • Do not overload the electrical supply, this will cause excessive heat and could lead to a fire occurring.
  • Avoid using naked flames.
  • If using candles ensure:
  • You secure the candle in a heavy base to prevent it toppling.
  • They are placed sensibly, and that naked flames do not create a fire hazard.
  • They are extinguished when the workplace is unattended, especially overnight.
  • Other decorations are not draped above the candle.
  • Confirm your fire detection and alarm systems function correctly, that escape routes and doors are unobstructed.

We want you to have a jolly lead up to Christmas both at work and at home. Many of the guidelines we have listed can be adapted and used at home, please take care

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