Bah Humbug - The Health & Safety Hazards of Office Decorations

Ready to bring festive sparkle to your office space?

Without wishing to be all bah humbug about decorating for the festive season, there are a few health and safety tips that it’s worth bearing in mind to ensure that the festivities don’t literally ‘go with a bang’!

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees come in all sizes and shapes, real and artificial, snowy and coloured. Whichever type of tree you chose, the best way to ensure it doesn’t cause any injuries, we recommend:

  • Making sure the tree is secure, firmly fixed to a secure base and can’t topple over.

  • Allow sufficient space for erecting and dressing the tree.

  • If your tree is awkward, heavy or unevenly weighted, you may benefit from using a trolley or sack truck to manoeuvre it. Don’t forget that lifting a tree may be a manual handling hazard.

  • Beware of skin irritation which can be caused by the tree materials, fake snow, or chemicals sprayed on real trees. If you’re susceptible to skin irritation, it may be better to be at the back of the queue of volunteers for putting the tree up, or wearing protective gloves.

  • Always try to use flame retardant tinsel and non-combustible decorations.

  • Take care with broken and fragile baubles and decorations with the potential to shatter and cause injuries.

Electrical Hazards

Any electrically powered decorations such as lights, lanterns, festive backlit scenes etc have potential to cause an electric shock or fire hazard.

It’s important to inspect everything before plugging in to the electric and switching on, looking for:

  • Look at the cable for damaged insulation, bare wires or any other sign of damage.

  • With fuses, make sure the correct amperage fuse is fitted.

  • Is the plug damaged? Both the casing and wiring should be perfectly intact.

  • Avoid the use of multiple electrical adaptors.

  • Uncoil all wiring.

  • Avoid trailing cables across walkways.

  • Ensure all items are switched off at night or when the workplace is unattended for long periods.

  • If lights are for exterior displays, ensure they are specifically designed for outdoor use.

  • Consider the use of safety devices such as a residual current monitor.

Hanging Decorations

Traditionally many decorations are hung from ceilings and other high places. To enable staff to pin up tinsel, garlands and strings of cards, ensure stable and safe step ladders are used to avoid the need to stand on tables, chairs, tables and boxes to gain additional height.

Consider using the correct type of step ladders for the task, fitted with handrails if possible and ensure they are safe and fit for purpose before climbing up.