The holiday season can be a great time of year. Snow is falling, joy is all around, and decorations are being hung. While many companies and organizations celebrate, it’s also a time to take extra care to ensure you avoid holiday workers’ comp injuries.
Ramping up your safety measures is especially important during the holiday season to protect workers from hazards related to putting up or removing decorations, the extra debris that may inhibit walking, and alcohol-related problems at celebrations.
Overexertion and same-level falls are the leading causes of workers’ compensation payouts each year, according to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index. The insurer’s 2017 annual study said overexertion — lifting, holding, pushing, pulling and carrying or throwing objects — cost employers $13.79 billion per year.
While most if not all such incidents can be avoided, prevention efforts may be especially difficult during the holidays. Employees dealing with decorations are more prone to overexertion-related injuries, while other workers may be more at risk of falling over decorations, cords, boxes, and other items left in walkways.
Strains, and sprains from lifting heavy boxes or trees, falling from chairs or desks while hanging decorations in workspaces, and getting poked in the eye by a pine needle are among the 337 holiday-related injuries reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Basic safety precautions can eliminate these and other risks of holiday workers’ comp injuries related to decorations:
- Keep trees away from radiators, fireplaces and other sources of heat
- Make sure the tree has a stable platform
- Artificial trees should be fire resistant
- Check lights for fraying, bare spots or excessive kinking in the wires
- Turn off all lights or decorations when not in use
- Use a ladder at the appropriate height for hanging or taking down decorations
- Make sure wires are always properly secured and covered
- Make sure workers remove all boxes from halls and walkways
- Retrain workers on proper bending and reaching techniques
A holiday party can be a great way to show employees your gratitude for their efforts throughout the year. You want to make sure there are no unnecessary injuries, especially when alcohol is involved.
State laws vary regarding an employer’s liability for accidents caused by inebriation. Even if a commercial general liability policy protects a business, there are still risks of injuries to employees.
Injuries that occur during such celebrations may or may not be considered compensable under workers’ compensation, depending on state law and the circumstances. In some states, courts have found company functions to be a part of employment when the employer presents the party as a way of compensating workers or requiring their attendance.
So you may ask, do we not want you to have fun this holiday season? Of course we do, but we also want you to be safe! Decorations and special celebrations are great morale boosters and show you care about your employees, but they can often lead to holiday workers’ comp injuries. Using common sense and strictly adhering to safety measures will ensure everyone has a good time. If you do experience an injury this holiday season please call 610-730-4572 or email us at [email protected] to schedule a FREE consultation with one of our physical therapists!