For some, holidays are the happiest times of the year, for others they are the worst time of the year, and for risk management professionals they are truly some of the busiest times of the year. Much of this comes with the winter season bringing wet weather and shorter days, but decorating for the holiday’s can create some unique challenges itself. Please take a minute to read these common hazards below to avoid some common winter follies and keep your holidays jolly!
As Holiday lights come out, so do the extension cords. Extension cords are only meant to be used for a temporary basis, such as during construction projects. Also, extension cords should be of the 3-prong variety (hot, neutral, ground) and should be UL-listed. You should never daisy-chain your cords, which is to combine multiple extension cords to achieve greater length. Make sure to not leave extension cords in walkways or anywhere else they may be a trip hazard.
Space heaters are a common sight when visiting members during the winter months. While truly in an ideal world we would never recommend using a space heater, we understand that is not feasible, so we ask you follow several guidelines when using a space heater. First and foremost, never plug your space heater into an extension cord or power strip, space heaters are always to be plugged into a wall outlet due to their large current draw. Second, ensure your space heater is UL-listed, and only use space heaters that have a tilt sensor which will shut the device off if it falls over. Third, be sure to shut your heaters off every day before you leave the office!
Adequate lighting is a large concern for everyone during the winter months, where we see a surge of slips/trips/and falls from wet or icy surfaces. First, do a site-audit and ensure that your agency has adequate lighting to begin with. Make sure to replace any outdoor bulbs when necessary. Be sure to adjust any timers so that they are operational during any times staff would be present. Also, carry a flashlight in your vehicle and make sure your district vehicles have one in their safety kits.
Historically, with the winter months come more precipitation, although 2020 seems to disagree so far. As best practice, it is good to have an adequate mat at entryways that can help wick off some of the water, snow, or mud that people may track in with their boots. Also, have a “Caution: Wet Floors” sign handy for the instances people may track in water, and clean and dry any wet floors immediately.
From changing bulbs to decorations, ladder use generally increases for many offices around the holidays. Be sure that you are well versed in the design and function of the ladder you will be using, including having read and understanding the affixed safety warning sticker. Do a pre-inspection and make sure your ladder is free of any cracked or broken parts, as well as free from any oily or wet residues. Make sure that your ladder is fully open and on level ground before use. Maintain 3 points of contact as you climb the ladder (2 hands and 1 foot, or 1 foot and 2 hands). Do not lean off a ladder in an attempt to extend your reach, always move your ladder closer to the work you are doing or get a larger ladder.
Starting with Halloween, many offices begin putting up decorations in efforts of getting into the Holiday Spirit. It is prudent that you always remove any previous decorations before you begin adding the next holiday’s decorations. Make sure that you are not putting any combustible decorations in areas where they may possibly become a fire hazard and try to minimize your use of combustible decorations entirely. Do not block any hallways, exits and Fire Exits with decorations. Look out for balloons or other decorations blocking security features, cameras, or smoke/CO2 detectors from proper function. And finally, try to have your decorations put away by January 1 as to avoid being that agency who keeps their Holiday Lights up year-round.
We hope you found these holiday tips helpful. Please reach out to our Loss Prevention Department if you have any questions regarding safe operation during the holidays.