‘Tis the season to be jolly, but it’s also a time to keep safe. Encourage your employees to be safety-minded during the holidays at home and on the road.
You want your employees to be safe at work, of course, but statistics show that they’re far more likely to be injured or killed off the job. That’s particularly true during the holidays. To make sure your workers have a safe holiday season, encourage them to be mindful of common hazards of the season and take proper precautions.
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of accidental injury and death in the United States, and accident rates always increase with holiday travel. Employees should take precautions when they hit the road, including the following:
- Make sure vehicles are in good repair. Encourage workers to be especially aware of safety-critical devices like headlights and taillights, turn signals, brakes, tires, and the horn.
- Drive carefully. The four most dangerous driving behaviors are speeding, aggressive driving, inattention, and drowsiness.
- Avoid drinking and driving. Encourage workers to protect themselves, their families, and other drivers and their families. Driving under the influence—even a little—seriously impairs a person’s ability to drive safely and greatly increases the risk of an accident.
Falls are another leading cause of accidental death or injury off the job. If employees are using a ladder to hang Christmas lights or other decorations, they should be sure to:
- Inspect the ladder. It should have nonskid feet, straight side rails, no visible damage, and even spacing between the rungs.
- Avoid underextending. Employees should be sure the top of an extension ladder clears the level of the roof by at least 3 feet so they can get on and off safely. Also, they should set the ladder’s feet at least one quarter of the vertical distance from the wall—for example, if they’re climbing onto a 12-foot roof, the ladder feet should be at least 3 feet from the wall’s base.
- Avoid overextending. Workers should be careful not to overreach, which could cause the ladder to become unbalanced. Instead of reaching out too far, it’s best to get down and move the ladder.
- Use stepladders safely. Stepladders should fully unfolded with the braces locked. Workers shouldn’t stand on the top step of a stepladder.
Encourage workers to take these additional precautions to protect against other holiday hazards:
- Watch out for electrical hazards. Don’t overload circuits, run cords under rugs, use indoor extension cords outdoors, or forget to turn off the lights on indoor trees when you go out or go to bed.
- Be a team player. Don’t work alone. Get help carrying heavy loads, have someone hold ladders steady for you, and share the driving so that you don’t have to drive when you are drowsy.
- Be careful with prescription drugs. Prescription drugs are killing far more Americans than illegal drugs these days. Prescription medication should be used only as your doctor indicates; don’t take more medication, or take it more often, than prescribed. Also, employees who take prescription medications should ask their pharmacist about alcohol consumption. It may be inadvisable to drink at holiday parties if they take certain medications.
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