November 28, 2018

Decorating the Office Safely: Top Tips for your Festive Workspace

What can you possibly do in an office around Christmas that puts life and limb at risk?

The answer you’re searching for is hanging up decorations around the office, and that’s because many people don’t consider the risks attached to readying the workspace for festive fun.

With trips/slips or falls, electrical incidents and manual handling/lifting the top three causes of accidents at work, here’s a short guide to spotting the risks that are right in front of your eyes.

Hanging decorations means working at height

Hanging decorations usually means standing on something to reach higher locations (like the top of the tree).

But even a small change in height significantly increases the chances of injury, so reduce your risk by:

  1. Never standing on anything not designed for this activity such as desks or chairs – you’d be surprised how many people think it’s ok to stand on a swivel office chair!
  2. Leaving the responsibility of hanging decorations to those trained in the correct use of ladders
  3. Avoiding using paper decorations at all and, in the same vein, hanging any decorations from electrical fittings where you might damage connections and increase the risk of fire

Give your Christmas tree some space

The focal point of most Christmas decorations is the tree, beautifully decorated and twinkling with tinsel and lights.

Every year there thousands of accidents arising from Christmas trees. So, to keep it in the centre of attention for all the right reasons:

  • Locate your tree away from walkways and make sure it doesn’t obstruct fire extinguishers or interfere with fire evacuation routes
  • Make sure it is stable by securing it to a suitable permanent fixture if necessary
  • Handle glass baubles carefully to reduce the risk of cuts from broken ones

Show those Christmas lights some tlc

Christmas lights are often stuffed in a bag after they are taken down, leading to damaged wires and connections and increasing the risk of them malfunctioning and causing a fire.

Before using old lights again check they have a kite mark safety standard on them and give them a thorough inspection by:

  • Checking the plug for damage to the casing and the wire grips have secured the flex
  • Checking the flex by looking for damaged insulation, bare wires or any other sign of damage
  • Making sure the correctly rated fuse is fitted to the plug
  • Avoiding the use of multiple electrical adapters or extension leads
  • Fully uncoiling all wiring
  • Avoiding trailing cables across walkways and access points and switch off all decorative lights at night or when the office is unmanned
  • Checking outside lights are routed through an RCD or similar safety device

Keep the festive fires contained (to a cosy wood-burning stove perhaps)

Fire is probably the single biggest risk in an office environment on a daily basis and festive decorations can increase this risk.

Here are the key points to keep in mind prior to starting the decorating process:

  • Hanging decorations over electrical equipment ventilation slots could cause the equipment to overheat and catch fire, so make sure you keep these vents clear
  • Never drape decorations near heaters or naked flames
  • Avoid the use of wax candles or any other naked flame

No one ever thinks working in an office is dangerous and, for the vast majority of the time, it is normally a safe environment in which to work. By following the steps above you can carry on enjoying a safe work place right through the festive period. If you require additional support please contact our Health and Safety Team on 0845 073 0240 (option 1) or email h.s.advice@moorepay.co.uk

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About the author

Philip Barker

Philip has worked for Moorepay for over nine years, starting as a Health & Safety Consultant in February 2008 before taking up the position of Consultancy Manager in January 2015. Coming from a retail background, both as a store manager and health & safety professional, he already had a good cross industry experience. Working at Moorepay has provided an opportunity to broaden both knowledge and experience across a wide range of industry sectors. Philip started his health & safety career after a number of years managing retail stores and holds a HNC in Environmental Health Studies, a Diploma in Environmental Policy and a NEBOSH Diploma.