‘Tis the season to be extra careful at work! Last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.1 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses that required workers to take at least one day off to recover were reported. Workplace injuries are most common around the holidays, and not just for inherently dangerous industries. Even office and retail workers are exposed to more risks around the holidays.
What are some of the most common injuries around the holidays?
Injuries due to fatigue, rushed work, lack of focus, ladder falls, electrical shock and food poisoning are among the top ways that workers get hurt this time of year. Many of these common injuries occur in office and retail environments, where staff are doing seasonal work, such as hanging lights or decorations in high places.
Also, “in the run up to Christmas many workplaces are open longer hours and recruit temporary workers, which means there is a sudden increase of new people who might not be familiar with an organization’s working practices.” (Enhesa Worldwide Compliance Intelligence)
Also, employers may not consider other risks, like the spread of the flu, or food poisoning. Workers commonly fall sick due to holiday food platters that are not stored properly. Common colds and other illnesses can be reduced by enforcing hand washing and sanitizing in the workplace.
In which industries are workers most susceptible to injuries?
The construction and transportation fields are among the riskiest industries year-round, but especially around the holidays. In these particularly dangerous industries, seasonal employees may not receive proper safety training in preparation for the Christmas season. More teen workers are also on the job, which exposes staff to injuries brought on by a lack of experience.
Construction workers are three times as likely to be killed and twice as likely to be injured as workers in other fields. These risks can be greatly lowered through proper training, hazard assessment and requiring workers to wear protective gear. OSHA-required safety signage should be properly placed and maintained in any environment that exposes employees to injuries.
Moreover, traffic is heavier during the Christmas season, which only heightens the risk for transportation workers who are driving on icy roadways and transporting heavy loads.
Other Common and Preventable Holiday Injuries
No matter what type of environment employees are working in, the risks are higher during the busy season. Workers are under extra pressure to perform, whether it’s to meet sales goals or to produce the products that are shipped to hasty customers. Retail workers are known to work extended hours, which leads to fatigue. Mail carriers are pushed to deliver packages on time. The list goes on.
What can employers do to ensure they offer a safe holiday work environment?
Don’t skip safety training. Even seasonal employees should receive adequate training that adheres to company and OSHA standards.
Post signage. Anywhere there is a risk to health or safety, a sign should be placed to warn or remind employees to take precaution. This safety signage can include everything from “remember to wash your hands” signs to “danger high voltage.”
Provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. The holiday season is also flu season. Make sure employees are healthy and productive by keeping germs under control in the workplace.
Monitor hours on the clock. Managers should keep close watch on their employees’ hours. Ensure proper breaks are being taken, and that teen workers are not working more than 8 hours in a day. This protects workers from fatigue, but also keeps employers safe from citations or fines.
Put things where they belong. Keep ladders, tools, electrical wires and other potentially hazardous objects in locked rooms that are only accessible by authorized personnel. Also store food at proper temperatures to prevent food poisoning!
Require proper attire. Depending on the risks inherent to each industry, different dress codes should be expected and enforced. From requiring that office workers wear closed toe shoes to demanding that construction workers wear hard hats, it’s vital to ensure employees are protected from harm.
Remind employees of potential hazards. Do staff members forget to turn off the toaster oven in the break room? Are Christmas lights not being turned off at closing time? Post signage to remind employees to turn off appliances or devices that can become fire hazards.
Many workplaces have unique or uncommon risks. You can create a safety sign that is specific to your office or warehouse needs.
CustomSigns.com has a full line of industrial and workplace safety signage that can be customized and shipped next business day.
Do what you can today to make your workplace safer for the holidays and year-round!