Staying Safe in the Holiday Season

Unfortunately, this time of year frequently sees an increase in workplace injuries, because of added responsibilities, stress, tighter deadlines and a decreased workforce.

Two people in hard hats looking at a sheet of paper

With a heavy focus on maximizing production and profits during the holiday season (after all, kids need the latest and greatest in toys!), health and safety considerations often become an afterthought.

Unfortunately, this time of year frequently sees an increase in the number of workplace injuries, likely a result of added responsibilities, stress, tighter deadlines and a decreased workforce.

Extended working hours have been associated with a 37% increased risk of injury, and The National Safety Council estimates that 13% of workplace injuries are attributed to fatigue.

Safe operations should be a top priority for all businesses, and a central part of an effective operations ecosystem. In the worst of cases, there can be severe workplace accidents -- most of which could be avoided with proper safety measures and training.

To make sure organizations are prepared for the busy season ahead and beyond, here are Evotix's top tips for creating a safe workplace.

Revise your safety training program

Training is an integral part of any business, and implementing safety training in the workplace is a key driver of business success. Safety training ensures that operations are continuously strengthened, staff are engaged and productivity remains high among employees.

While conducting training regularly throughout the year is important, providing extra training sessions before holidays is paramount to running a strong and smooth operation. During this time, many organizations augment existing workforces with contract workers or seasonal staff, so before the holiday season begins, refresh your training programs and make sure your staff is up to speed on the latest safety protocols.

A consideration should be toolbox talks, a short five- to 15-minute presentation to the workforce that focuses on a single aspect of health and safety. Often created by safety managers, these talks are delivered by managers on the shop floor. Another suggestion is to attach QR codes to machines where employees can scan the code and be sent to a short training video. While training has already taken place, this short video provides reminders about how to use the equipment, what PPE should be worn, considerations to make before starting the equipment, etc.

Prepare for staff shortages

Inevitably, the holiday season marks a time when people are traveling, spending time with family and friends and looking forward to a well-deserved break. One of the main components of maintaining a safe and smooth working environment is ensuring you are properly staffed.

Ahead of the holiday season, confirm schedules and determine what areas of your business will need the most focus. If you can, hire seasonal workers to ensure employees aren't overworked, fatigued and more susceptible to workplace accidents. If you are unable to hire extra staff, explore training current employees in areas of the business that may be busier during the holiday.

Use EHS tools to prevent injuries

If you aren't already, ensure your safety protocols are up to date by using EHS health and safety software to prevent workplace accidents. Having these solutions in place allows you and your employees to have a comprehensive view of health and safety across the entire organization, in near real time and on demand.

Using these software solutions can also allow businesses to draw insights from reporting and anticipate any problems before they arise, ahead of the busier season. Keeping track of any incidents helps organization leaders learn from the data and prevent recurrences and empower a safer workplace. And, these tools often provide great training resources.

Ultimately, safety should be the first priority for any company. The better the safety measures are in an organization, the smoother operations run and the more effective they will be in supplying customers and generating profits. In turn, a safer workplace also makes for happier employees, improved productivity and, most importantly, fewer workplace accidents.

See also: The Key to Cutting Workers' Comp Costs

Make health and safety your guiding principle

Acting on all of these top tips will greatly improve the safety of your company workplace, but it's still important to pose the question: Is safety engrained in the fabric of your business? Does it start at the top and make its way down to the floor level?

While businesses often include characteristics such as honesty, ambition and integrity in their core beliefs and guiding principles, health and safety aren't typically outlined values. But the reality is, health and safety should be key values, if not the guiding ones because they mean you are putting the well-being of your employees at the forefront of your business.

For organizations, this is the time to ask if your business is doing all it can to care for employees and make any operational improvements. After all, when properly executed, effective health and safety practices can bring significant business value.

Read More