The holiday season often means some fun, seasonal activities at work. One activity that many look forward to each year is decorating the workplace with lights, ornaments, and other festive displays. But, remember to take care when decorating.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that each year more than 12,000 people in the United States require a trip to the emergency room due to falls, cuts, and electrical shocks related to holiday displays. While this statistic takes into account home displays as well as those at work, it’s a reminder of the risks each of us faces when “decking the halls” at work.
Naturally, no one wants to fall from a ladder or trip over an extension cord. Nor does anyone want a fire to break out due to a frayed extension cord, overloaded outlet, or malfunctioning lights. So, to help you keep the workplace both festive and safe, we offer these tips:
Hanging lights. Inspect all lights, decorations, and extension cords for damage before using them.
- Discard any damaged items as they can pose a safety hazard.
- Use LED lights—they’re cool and more efficient. And make sure you choose lights recommended by a reputable testing laboratory.
- Never use outdoor lights indoors and do not hang lights or decorations on overhead sprinklers. This could prevent the sprinklers from working properly.
- Do not use nails, tacks, or staples to hang cords and lights. This could damage the cord and create an electrical hazard.
- Remember to turn off all lights and displays before leaving for the day. Leaving them on overnight is also a safety hazard.
Work safely on ladders. Do not stand on desks or rolling desk chairs when hanging lights or other decorations. Use a good, sturdy ladder or step stool and work with a partner when hanging lights or decorations. Avoid over reaching and never stand on the top step of the ladder.
Keep walkways and work areas unobstructed. To avoid trips and falls keep all walkways free of wires, cords, boxes, and decorations. Avoid placing trees, gifts, or freestanding decorations in heavy traffic areas where people might run into or trip over them.
Don’t block exits. Take care not to block exits with any type of decorative items. Make sure that none of your decorations block exit signage, electrical panels, or fire safety equipment.
In addition to inspecting all lights and decorations for damage, you want to make sure you’re using the right kind of lights. Some may have specific limitations, so please pay close attention to the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, avoid overloading power outlets—which is another common fire hazard this time of year. And, never use open flame—such as candles—in office decorations. Many buildings already ban this and it’s simply not worth the risk. If you want the look of holiday candles at the office, electric versions are available online and at various retail outlets.
Faulty lights, decorations, and overloaded power outlets have caused many a holiday tree or other display to go up in flames. And, misplaced items have led to slips, trips, and falls that are easily avoidable by taking just a few extra steps.
Always observe safety first when decorating for the holidays. Don’t let your holiday cheer be spoiled by a trip to the emergency room or be the cause of damage or destruction in the workplace.
Enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!
The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.