Workplace Holiday Season Safety
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years and other holidays inspire staff members to set up decorations. These initiatives are often done with good intentions, meant to bring a touch of cheer or team festivity to a sometimes sterile healthcare office environment, but you will bear the blame if any decorations result in fire or occupational safety hazards.
Decorating the workplace can result in falls and dangerous tripping hazards. Avoid placing trees, gifts, Halloween decor (particularly dangerous or flammable cob web, steamers and banners) or other freestanding decorations in busy areas where people might run into them or trip over them. Always use the proper step stool or ladder to reach high places safely, not chairs or other unstable furniture. Before using a ladder, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and do not exceed recommended usage limits. Potential trips over cords or decorations, slips and falls are workers’ compensation claims waiting to happen.
It's also essential to make sure that your holiday decor does not block exits, cover exit signage, or block access to fire safety equipment. Do not place any type of decorative items in exit corridors or hang decorations from or covering fire sprinklers.
General Holiday Safety Tips
To summarize, using the list below should help keep you on the plus side of OSHA, your local fire authority and provide your staff a safe work environment during the holidays.
● NO decorative electrical lights of any kind in the patient vicinity (i.e., any room where a patient receives care).
● NO decorations that create a trip hazard (e.g. electrical cords or extension cords across halls or walkways).
● NO natural cut or once-live evergreen trees or garlands.
● NO artificial Christmas trees unless labeled or otherwise identified or certified as “flame retardant” or “flame resistant.”
● NO decorations that obstruct exits.
● NO combustible decorations. All decorations must be flame retardant and labeled as such. These decorations should always be kept away from ignition sources (e.g., light fixtures, electrical receptacles, etc.).
● NO decorations that are explosive or highly flammable (e.g., decorative crepe paper or pyroxylin plastic decorations).
● NO decorations that impair the visibility of an exit sign or portable fire extinguisher.
● NO decorations that impair the proper operation or the fire sprinkler system. Do not attach anything to sprinkler heads.
● NO decorations attached to painted surfaces with tape or staples. Hanging decorations from a ceiling grid is preferable.
● NO wall decorations in excess of 10% of the wall surface area.
Also consider declaring a date on which all holiday decorations must be taken down, which can help to eliminate any lingering compliance problems. Many facilities set the date of January 3 to conclude all holiday decorating activities.
Be safe and enjoy the holiday season from HCSI!
Source(s): www.hcsiinc.com, http://www.foodsafety.gov, http://www.statefundca.com, http://www.nsc.org