The holidays are full of awesome work celebrations: many offices hold festive parties and deck the halls, all the while expecting employees to drive to work in beautiful yet slippery conditions. Despite all of this cheer, we want to make sure your heart is filled with caution this winter. Here are our top picks for workplace holiday hazards, complete with tips on how to avoid disaster at every tinsel-filled turn.

The Undercover Holiday Damper: Stress

With the expectation that you have to cook something for the company potluck coupled with planning for holiday get-togethers in your own personal life, stress can be a difficult part of the holiday season. Many projects from the rest of the year get crammed into this already bustling time because of budget reasons, making it even more stressful for those who have to work normal or overtime hours.

Our tips for overcoming the wintertime blues related to stress are to try and get enough sleep, eat right, drink plenty of water, and even exercise during this chilly time of year. Taking care of yourself increases how productive you are at work, which means you have more time to decide what dish you’ll be bringing to the party that night. Our second tip is to communicate with your team and manager what needs to get done and to delegate those pesky end-of-year tasks: one person shouldn’t be doing everything, so make sure to spread the load. 

When Workplace Decorations go from Cheery to Treacherous

It’s nice when our workplaces look all sparkly and welcoming, filled with lights, trees, and Santas – but if those decorations are improperly placed, they can become hazardous. Trees and lights can be fire hazards: think too many plugs in an outlet, real trees too close to heat sources, et cetera. Not only can our decked halls increase fire risks, but they can also increase the rates of trips and falls due to improper electrical cord placement.

What do we recommend? Stop the danger before it even happens. EHS and office management leaders should communicate a plan to all the elves (decorators) in the office: where decorations should go and how many lights or other electricity-sucking items they can have up at a time. To follow through with this plan you should use artificial trees with fire-retardant treatments instead of the real deal, non-breakable glass decorations, UL-approved holiday lights and extension cords only (try to avoid using extension cords if possible as they can increase tripping hazards around the office).   

Do the Penguin Shuffle

Slips and falls are increasingly common as the ground becomes slippery and covered with snow and ice. In 2014, there were 42,480 work injuries involving ice, sleet, or snow! Wow. That’s why we suggest trying out a little move called the penguin shuffle – which involves pointing your feet outwards in a penguin-like fashion, bending slightly and walking flat-footed with your hands at your sides to maintain balance, and taking short steps or shuffling for stability. You might feel a bit silly, but this can help decrease your chances of slipping in the parking lot on your way to work.

Driving in Winter Weather: The Reason Santa Flies

This one is a doozy. Almost everyone has to drive to work, and thusly have to deal with varying weather conditions and digging their car out of the snow. While it might seem like you must rush to work and finish all of your projects before the new year, we advise that you take your time to prepare your car – heat up the windshield, clean off all snow – and drive cautiously to work, especially when there is ice or snow on the road.

You can never be too cautious when it comes to winter driving! We also recommend being prepared for a breakdown: make sure to pack an extra coat, some snacks, and a flare. 

We hope that highlighting these holiday hazards helps you be a little safer at work. Have a safe and happy holiday season everybody!

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