Menu Close
Screenshot 2023-07-27 103157

Zoe Mackenzie

Operations Manager

Christmas myths busted

Laptop with fairy lights

Health and Safety is something we all need to take seriously, but that doesn’t mean that you need to overreact and overcomplicate it. We’ve previously posted about the risks the winter weather poses, and today we’ve broken down some commonly held myths regarding the festive season and what employers need to be aware of:

Christmas decorations must only be put up by a qualified and trained person, or can’t be had at all.

As with many things, the root of this likely stemmed from sensible precautions and has been presented as fact without context. There is (as far as we are aware) no H&S training course available that covers how to decorate a workplace for Christmas, but we can certainly apply Health and Safety principles when decorating, for example;

  • Providing step-ladders for any decorations at height and instructing that one member of staff must hold the ladder while another is up the ladder, instead of having people stand on chairs and desks. It’s about having the proper access equipment, and staff knowing they must use it.
  • Avoid flammable decorations being placed on, around, or next to around electricals such as computers and monitors to reduce risk of fire.
  • Natural trees should be kept watered for as long as they are up to reduce the risks of fire as well as keeping it looking fresh and green.
  • Artificial trees should be fire-resistant.

Are those lights properly tested?!

PAT or Portable Appliance Testing is an examination of electrical appliances such as kettles and monitors to ensure these are safe to use. There is no need for a PAT for your strings of Christmas lights, you can carry out checks yourself just as you do at home.

  • Only use lights with the appropriate safety marks
  • Check that the lights and cord are not damaged or broken, and carefully inspect the cord for loose wires – if in doubt then do not use!
  • Replace any blown bulbs immediately to prevent overheating and only use the same type and rating as the original lights
  • Ensure you don’t overload sockets or daisy-chain extensions in your quest for a festive atmosphere!
  • Keep lights away from any flammable material
  • Switch lights off before leaving the office

If you clear snow, you’ll get sued if someone slips! Better to leave it inaccessible.

The Approved Code of Practice to the Workplace Regulations states that the responsibility of the employer to reduce the risk of slips, trips or falls on work premises, which includes the carpark.

Following a warning of the risk of individuals being sued if someone slips in an area they have cleared, your employees may be reluctant to tackle snowy or icy surfaces.  The HSE responded to these claims by adding a page of guidance on clearing snow safely – they state that it is “unlikely that [an individual] be sued or held responsible if someone is injured on a path or pavement if you’ve cleared it carefully”.  As with any other task involving hazards, it must be risk assessed appropriately prior to the activity taking place – check out our blog on challenges for winter weather for further information.

In summary; by taking reasonable precautions you can have a safe, cheery and bright festive period without the “bah, humbug” – it’s about reducing the risks of being harmed at work, not about having a Christmas that only the Grinch would enjoy.

We’d like to note at this stage that we’ve made it to the end of this post without making the classic “Elf & Safety” Joke, and we’re very proud of that.

We’re here to reduce your worry about Health & Safety over Christmas, get in touch with us today.

Our content is correct at the date of publishing, but should not be taken as legal advice, and our articles don’t replace Risk Assessments. Armour will not be held accountable for any legal actions the reader may take.