With autumn upon us at last, the holiday season is just around the corner, bringing with it additional workplace safety concerns. Between holiday parties, an increase in vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and environmental hazards, employers and employees must be vigilant to avoid accidents and injuries while working. Here are 5 holiday safety and wellness tips to keep you and your employees safe.

Clothing precautions

From costumes and ugly sweaters to jackets and coats, selecting the appropriate clothing for work can become an important safety consideration during the fall and winter months.

Along with changing leaves, fall brings temperatures that can vary wildly throughout the day. A cool, cloudy morning can quickly turn into a warm, sunny afternoon. When working outdoors, employees can quickly become too hot or too cold if they don’t make the right clothing choices for the weather. Encourage employees to check forecasts ahead of time and wear layers. Doing so allows them to add or remove clothing as the temperature changes throughout the day without sacrificing productivity.

Many businesses allow employees to celebrate Halloween by dressing up in fun and festive attire. On the surface, this may seem like a harmless activity, but different work environments can pose their own unique safety risks for those wearing costumes. Employees who work around machinery or heavy equipment should avoid bulky costumes, costumes with flowy or loose sections, and large jewelry. Costumes with gloves or masks may also impair an employee’s ability to safely perform their job duties. When in doubt, encourage employees to ask for prior approval of their costume or hold a quick meeting about what types of costumes are and aren’t allowed in the workplace. Check out our Halloween Workplace Safety Tips to help your employees safely celebrate the holiday in the workplace.

Sharing the road with pedestrians

For delivery drivers and fleet operators, the fall season can be particularly nerve-wracking. Between trick-or-treaters and vendors dropping off holiday packages, your drivers have to be more vigilant than ever about sharing roads, driveways, and parking lots with pedestrians.

Young children aren’t known for their attention spans, even at the best of times; throw the promise of candy into the mix and they’re even less attentive than usual. Drivers in residential areas should be extra cautious of children who cross the street outside of crosswalks or run into the road without warning. Encourage drivers to go slower than usual through these areas, particularly on scheduled Trick-or-Treat days.

In the last few months of the year, companies often see an increase in visitor traffic, particularly from vendors dropping off holiday goodies in hopes of more business or a contract renewal and caterers unloading trays of food for holiday parties. All of this added parking lot foot traffic can lead to an increased likelihood of accidents. Encourage drivers to drive more slowly through parking lots and delivery zones, including your own, during this time of year.

Road hazards

With two major holidays occurring in back-to-back months, autumn sees a drastic increase in the number of travelers on America’s highways. These additional drivers mean a higher likelihood for accidents to occur, particularly when rain, falling leaves, and snow contribute to slick road conditions.

Encourage your drivers to be more vigilant and practice defensive driving. They should use additional caution when entering or exiting the freeway, as drivers unfamiliar with the area often make unpredictable exits or entrances that can be dangerous for other motorists.

Rain or light snow, combined with fallen leaves, contribute to roadways that are often slippery and more dangerous than they seem. In addition to obscuring hazards like potholes, leaves can also block traffic lines and other road markings from view. In fall months, temperatures can often drop significantly overnight, causing rain or moisture to freeze on the roadway. Encourage drivers to slow down, check weather reports, and be more mindful of their surroundings and road conditions during this time of year. Read our Safety Tips for Autumn for more fleet safety tips.

Cleanliness matters

When it comes to safety, keeping up with general cleanliness might not be the first thing that comes to mind. The truth is that a clean workplace is a safer workplace. Keeping up with housekeeping tasks in the workplace can be essential to preventing injuries and increasing safety for your employees.

Slips and falls on wet surfaces are one of the most common causes of injury in the workplace and are magnified when rain, sleet, or snow are tracked into common areas from outside. Whenever you see standing water in a walkway, clean it up as soon as possible. It may be beneficial to keep a mop, broom, and dustpan near heavily trafficked entryways and exits to make cleanups easier and faster. If leaves are tracked in, be sure to clean these up as well, as they can reduce traction on work shoes and can easily result in a slip. Additionally, trip-resistant, water-absorbing mats should be installed at all entryways and cleaned regularly. Check out Housekeeping for Safety for more housekeeping safety tips you should implement in your workplace.

Be mindful of food safety

The fall and early winter provide numerous opportunities for employees to enjoy the season and bond with their co-workers during holiday parties. However, these friendly meals can pose their own potential safety risks for your employees.

Keeping the food brought in for a potluck at safe temperatures is essential to prevent bacteria growth that can lead to food poisoning. Plan to clean out the employee fridge the day before an event to allow ample room for employees to store items that need to be kept cold. If an item is too large for the refrigerator or there isn’t enough room, place the item in a bowl or tray of ice to keep it at a healthy temperature. Replace the ice as often as needed.

Hot foods should be kept at a warm enough temperature to prevent bacterial growth. Encourage employees to bring warm foods in a crockpot so they can be kept covered and at a food-safe temperature until the party. To prevent trips, place all items that need to be plugged in along the walls, if possible, or secure cords with mats or tape. Clean up any spills or messes to avoid slips.

Your partner in safety

Keeping your workforce safe is a top priority for your company. Our safety experts are here to help you accomplish those goals. Our team provides regular training and education to keep your team on top of the most important safety issues – including Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Awareness, Drug-Free Safety Program training, OSHA Recordkeeping, and much more. Sheakley’s Workforce Management Services experts provide complete safety resources for your company.

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