SafeWork Australia statistics report that the months of November, December and January hold a higher percentage of workplace-related injuries and fatalities involving employees and bystanders. In the last decade, 25% of workplace fatalities have occurred in November and December.
These figures are alarming, but when you look through the factors that can contribute to the rate of injuries and fatalities, it’s clear that the festive season does bring its fair share of challenges to the workplace – not only during the lead up to Christmas, but also during the weeks afterwards as employees are returning to work. As such, it’s important to understand what factors can impact your workplace and what you can do to protect yourself, your staff and maintain a safe work environment over this period.
Factors that can impact safety:
Workplaces are busier than ever in the lead up to Christmas. No matter the industry, there are pressures to meet the needs of the customer and to finalise outstanding tasks and deadlines before the Christmas break. This often leads to extended working hours for businesses and staff, resulting in both physical and mental fatigue.
In addition to the extended hours and pressure to perform in the workplace, there are seasonal and environmental factors at play during this time:
- School leavers and “Christmas Casuals” are looking to commence employment
- Christmas and New Year celebrations
- Higher number of visitors to workplaces, offices and sites
- Extreme weather conditions such as heat, storms and bushfires
What impact does this have:
Physical and mental fatigue can cause momentary loss of concentration, impair clear thinking and can impact the ability to concentrate. These conditions can be amplified when coupled with the other impacts of the season:
- Safety inductions and onboarding of new staff can be rushed due to time pressures on managers and supervisors, leaving new team members confused or unaware of key safety and workplace policies for your business.
- Christmas parties and New Year celebrations coincide with increased consumption of alcohol. Whether a workplace or personal celebration, the effects of alcohol can have serious impacts on your workplace and employees
- Deliveries to workplaces tend to increase leading up to Christmas, as well as an increase of clients into your offices. Not keeping track of who is coming in and out of your workplace can pose a security risk to your business.
- As school breaks for Christmas, children can often spend time with their parents in the workplace during the day. This can be a distraction if an emergency was to occur.
- Physical health of your staff can be severely impacted during extreme heat, often causing dehydration, disorientation and nausea
- Being caught in a storm or bushfire emergency – or driving during either can lead to serious physical injury or fatality.
How to protect yourself and maintain a safe work environment:
Identifying the increased risks to workplace safety and understanding the impacts to your employees and business is only the first step in maintaining a safe work environment over the Christmas period. Checks and balances now need to be put in place to ensure your workplace minimises the impact associated with them: Look out for signs of fatigue – ensure your employees are taking their allocated breaks during their shifts.
- Look out for signs of fatigue – ensure your employees are taking their allocated breaks during their shifts.
- Check in with your staff regularly – ensure no corners are being cut and they can handle the expectations of them over this period.
- Ensure all new staff (whether fulltime or casual) are onboarded and receive a proper induction – for information on this, see our blog on onboarding here.
- Refresh and reinforce company policies and processes (including drug and alcohol policies). Ensure no one drives if intoxicated.
- Make sure your workplace visitor check-in process and policies are up to date, ensuring every visitor is signed in and have agreed to your policies – for more information on a digital solution for this, see Dita Visitor.
- Keep safety front of mind by maintaining regular toolbox talks despite the busy period.
- Teach workers the impact extreme heat can have on their health and what to do in hot, stormy or bushfire conditions – Have a policy in place for when these occur.
- Ensure you’re across your state’s emergency services departments and heed the advice given if evacuations are to occur.
The festive season is a time for celebration with family and friends. Having the right procedures and policies in place ensures you and your employees can enjoy it with their loved ones.
To implement a system that assists with managing these aspects of safety in your business, book an obligation free demo with dita Solutions.