A Season for Safety

Holiday celebrations should continue to highlight a company’s safety record, rather than spoil it. Here are some safety considerations when hosting a holiday party in the workplace.

First, the holiday season often means strings of twinkling lights and other electronically powered decorations.

  • Ensure any decorative lights and power cords are approved by the Underwriters Laboratories on the packaging or plug. This ensures the lights meet industry safety standards.
  • Avoid using candles for decorations. Battery-powered candles are available that provide a realistic flickering flame, giving you the ambiance of real candles, without the smoke, dripping wax and hazard of an open flame.
  • When putting up lights, use only plastic clips or attachments. Do not use nails, tacks or staples. If lights must be attached to a wall, you can use a plastic zip tie around the strand of lights to form a hanging loop, then attach the loop to the wall.

Second, many companies serve alcohol at their holiday parties, which can create additional hazards from impaired judgment, and increase the chances of alcohol-related vehicle accidents. For more ways on how keep your holiday party safe check out our article The Risks of Alcohol at Company Parties.

Third, whether you’re preparing food “in house” or just keeping an eye on the caterers, don’t forget about food safety; the only thing spreading at your party should be holiday cheer, not foodborne illness.

  • Ensure anyone handling food is washing their hands before and after handling food. While this may seem like a “no brainer,” it is often neglected at parties, particularly if some of the people assisting aren’t trained in food safety and don’t have professional experience serving.
  • Remember the two-hour rule. Don’t let cold foods sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Use smaller serving trays that you replenish periodically, or keep cold food on ice. Don’t let hot food sit at room temperature for more than two hours either. Use the same strategy of smaller serving trays that are replenished periodically, or use a slow cooker or warming tray.

While these holiday party safety tips can’t cover every eventuality, they serve as a useful reminder of some of the most common safety issues to be vigilant about. Let the end of the year festivities mark a safe and successful year, and keep the safety record going strong into 2013.