Avoid Holiday Hazards at the Office

Articles | November 19, 2019

Health and Safety Tips for Your Office

Holidays bring office festivities and fun, but also an opportunity to remember important health and safety tips.

Decorating and Fire Safety

If your office allows holiday decorations, your administration may circulate restrictions that are designed to keep employees safe. Follow them, or create your own basic tips—some of which may include the following.

  • Use maintenance staff to help with hanging decorations, or use ladders rather than chairs to stand on when hanging decorations.
  • Use indoor and outdoor lights appropriately.
  • Ensure all lights are turned off or unplugged when the office is empty.
  • Ban the use of candles and open flames.
  • Check all electrical and extension cords for damage before using, and don’t string multiple strands of extension cords together.
  • Don’t nail or staple electrical cords of any kind.
  • Don’t overload outlets, or adapt 3-prong cords to 2-prong outlets.
  • Don’t hide extension cords under furniture, rugs, or in ceilings or walls where they can overheat.
  • Keep all decorations clear of sprinkler systems.

Safe Holiday Gatherings

If your office holds potlucks, happy hours, or other parties, here are some tips to make sure everyone returns to work after these gatherings feeling safe and well.

  • Adhere to safe food handling guidelines when preparing meals or snacks for others.
  • The USDA recommends cooking raw beef, pork, lamb, and veal to a minimum internal temp of 145° F; raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temp of 160° F; and all poultry items to a minimum internal temp of 165° F.
  • Keep cold foods cold (40º F or colder) by keeping food on a bowl of ice or serving small portions and refilling from a refrigerated container frequently.
  • Keep hot foods hot (140º F or warmer) at potlucks by using crockpots.
  • If something has been sitting out for more than 2 hours, don’t risk it. Food poisoning isn’t worth it.
  • Clearly label foods you bring that contain common allergens (nuts, gluten, seafood, etc.) to help prevent allergic reactions.
  • Follow office rules regarding alcohol usage.
  • When alcohol is present at holiday office events, arrange transportation for employees who need it.

Safe Travel / Healthy Work Environment

With the change in seasons, your office and its environment offer more hazards than usual. Make sure you and your employees are aware of them, and prepare for them accordingly.

  • With colder weather on the way, keep warm clothes for cold weather, a phone charger, an emergency first aid kit, and jumper cables in your car in case they’re needed.
  • Wear comfortable, sensible shoes when the weather outside is snowy or icy (or could turn that way).
  • Make sure office walkways and parking lots are shoveled, and make sure salt or sand is used to prevent falls by yourself or your colleagues.
  • With shorter days, more employees arrive and leave work when it’s dark out. Keep parking lots, stairwells, and hallways well-lit.
  • With the holidays, fewer of your colleagues may be working late in the office. Time your leaving with other employees so you don’t find yourself working alone in a dark, deserted building.
  • Cold and flu bugs are more commonly shared when people gather together for holidays and in cold weather months. Get a flu vaccine if you haven’t already, make sure you wash your hands regularly, get plenty of rest, and eat healthy. And, if you’re sick, don’t expose your colleagues when you can avoid it. Stay home while you’re contagious and try to help prevent the spread of disease.

Share Your Tips

The ScholarNet team wishes you a safe and happy holiday season! You can share additional tips with us and with your colleagues on our MyScholarNet LinkedIn group.

Related Topics