With Christmas only a week away I can almost guarantee that there is one person in your workplace that has been singing Christmas songs since November and wanting to put decorations up. But do you also have the person who wants to ruin all the fun for everyone else?

As the decorations are up you might have already heard the mutterings of a few saying “you can’t put decorations up in the office because of health and safety reasons” or “your Christmas lights need to be PAT tested every year, otherwise you can’t use them”

Well bah humbug, lets bust a few of those health and safety myths!

Let’s start with the one I hear every year.

1. You can’t put up any decorations unless you have been specially trained to work at height and use ladders.

Whilst yes, receiving the appropriate working at height training for your role is important, most of the time putting up decorations is a something that only happens once a year therefore insisting that employees are “specially trained” would not be reasonable.

A sensible approach would be to provide employees with a suitable step ladder and provide a brief guide on how to use them safely.

A guide to the safe use of step ladders can be found on the HSE website:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg455.pdf

Better this than employees putting up decorations in secret and standing on wheelie chairs or desks!

2. You can only put up indoor Christmas lights that have been PAT tested annually.

I personally love the twinkle of a Christmas light, especially with the night’s drawing in!

All businesses should have a sensible approach to PAT testing their appliances, but this does not mean that every item has to be tested annually.

Businesses can ensure that their places of work sparkle throughout the Christmas period by carrying out visual checks of any lights to ensure there are not obvious signs of wear and tear and don’t overload plug sockets. Make someone responsible for ensuring lights are turned off at the end of the day to ensure lights are not left on overnight.

Guidance on PAT testing can be found on the HSE website.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm

3. Decorations are a fire hazard.

Whilst technically, yes, they could be a fire hazard, there are multiple things in any workplace that could be classed as a fire hazard. Printing paper or cardboard boxes could potentially be a fire hazard as well and we don’t tell you, you can’t have them in the office.

As with anything in the office a sensible approach is to be mindful of where you are putting up decorations and make sure you are not putting them up near a heat source for example over a heater.

So let’s not make Health and Safety the scapegoat for all the Grinch’s out there this Christmas and let’s make our working environment joyful and merry this Christmas time!

If you need help with your health and safety give Hewitt&Carr Services a call today.

Tel: 01538 711777    email: enquiries@hcaservices.co.uk