Safe Work Australia statistics report that the festive months of November, December and January hold a higher percentage of workplace-related injuries. This includes fatalities involving employees and bystanders. In the last decade, 25% of workplace fatalities have occurred in November and December.
These figures are alarming. But if we look through the factors that can contribute to the rate of injuries and fatalities it’s clear that the festive season brings its fair share of challenges to the workplace. It’s not only during the lead-up to Christmas but also during the weeks proceeding, as employees are returning to work. As such, it’s important to understand what factors can impact your workplace – this includes what you can do to protect yourself, your staff and maintain a safe work environment.
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 customers and finalise tasks 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, there are seasonal and environmental factors at play during this time, including:
- 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 are the contributing factors at play?
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, including:
- Safety inductions of new staff can be rushed due to time pressures
- New team members unaware of key safety and workplace policies
- Christmas celebrations can often increase the consumption of alcohol
- Increased numbers of deliveries to workplaces, as well as an increased number of clients
- Children on school holidays who spend time with their parents at work can be a distraction
- Extreme heat can have a serious impact on your staff’s health including dehydration and nausea
- Driving during a storm or bushfire can lead to serious physical injury or fatality
How to protect yourself and maintain a safe work environment:
The first step is to identify the increased risks to workplace safety and understand the impacts to your employees and business. This will help to maintain a safe work environment over the Christmas period. Checks can be put in place to ensure your workplace minimises the impact associated with them, including:
- Look out for signs of fatigue – ensure your employees take their breaks
- Check in with your staff & ensure they can handle the expectations of them
- Ensure all new staff receive a proper induction (for more info, see our blog here)
- Refresh and reinforce company policies and processes
- Ensure no one drives if intoxicated
- Make sure your workplace visitor check-in process and policies are up to date
- Ensure every visitor is signed in and agrees to your policies (for more info, see dita Visitor)
- Keep safety front of mind by maintaining regular toolbox talks
- Teach workers about what the impact of extreme heat can have on their health
- Have a policy in place for what to do in hot, stormy or bushfire conditions
- Stay updated on your state’s emergency service’s advice if evacuations occur
The festive season is a time for celebration with family and friends. Having the right procedures and policies in place and maintaining a safe work environment ensures you and your employees can enjoy it with their loved ones.
To implement a system that assists with managing these aspects of safety, book an obligation free demo with dita Solutions.