The holidays are approaching, and for many of us, the excitement is starting to ramp up. We’re making hot chocolate, putting up Christmas trees, and trying to get everything wrapped up at work so we can go home for the holidays. But the holidays can also be a dangerous time around the workplace.
Every year around the holidays, workplace injury rates see a jump. There are a number of reasons for this, ranging from bad weather to holiday fatigue. Read on to learn more about why workplace injuries increase around the holidays and what you can do to prevent them.
One of the biggest reasons we see a spike in workplace injuries during the holidays is that companies hire on temp workers. The holiday season is busy, regular employees want to take time off to spend with their families, and companies need some extra hands around. These employees may only work for the company for a couple of weeks around the holidays.
Because temp workers are with the company for so little time, they may not receive the same level of training as a regular employee. It doesn’t make sense to spend two weeks training someone who will only work for the company for a month. But this lack of training can increase the risk that someone gets hurt.
The holidays are a busy, exciting time when we’re all trying to get out and do our shopping, go to parties, visit family, and do charitable work. This means there are more people on the road, and often people traveling to places they’re not familiar with. More traffic means more dangerous driving conditions.
Many workplace injuries during the holiday season come from traffic accidents. Delivery drivers, home health aides, utility service people, and emergency services personnel are at especially high risk. But anyone who commutes to work may also be in danger of these injuries.
Not only are there more people on the roads, but the holiday season also comes with worse weather. Snow may seem romantic and wonderful on Christmas morning, but it can be dangerous on the road. Snow, ice, rain, sleet, and fog – all common winter weather occurrences – can all increase the risk of traffic accidents.
But even on the job site, bad weather can increase the risk of injury. Icy conditions can make walking around the campus dangerous, and operating heavy machinery can also become more dangerous. And people who work outdoors need to be careful to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.
The holidays are a wonderful time, but they can also be incredibly busy and stressful. You may be running around trying to get your home decorated, get cookies made, get presents bought, get holiday cards sent off, and prepare your holiday feast, not to mention working longer hours to get everything done at the office. You may not be sleeping as much as usual, and that can lead to slip-ups at work.
Fatigue can increase the risk of injury in the workplace by as much as 37 percent. Accident and injury rates are already 18 percent higher during evening shifts and 30 percent higher during night shifts. And even if you stay safe at work, studies have shown that exhaustion can raise your chance of crashing during a commute by more than 16 percent.
Part of the reason fatigue can be so common around the holidays is that most industries are busier during this time. Retail industries see a shopping boom, plumbers get more frequent calls, and postal carriers see a huge upswing in business. This increased workload can also increase the risk of workplace injury.
When things are rushed, safety procedures may be the first thing out the window. People are trying to get their work done quickly, so they may not take time to make sure they’re following full and proper procedures. They may also not pay attention to details that can cause an increased risk of danger.
It may seem surprising, but fires are one of the most common sources of workplace injuries. Some offices like to decorate for the holidays, including setting up trees decorated with lights. Unfortunately, these lights can spell danger.
The National Fire Prevention Association estimates that three people die and an additional 34 are injured because of holiday decoration fires every year. Most of these issues are related to electrical outlets being overloaded. Christmas trees can also pose a major fire hazard in the workplace.
The key to preventing workplace injury is to slow down and be careful. Make sure workers receive adequate safety training focusing on holiday work risks, even if they’re temp workers. And do your best to make sure you have enough staff to prevent your full-time employees from working themselves to exhaustion.
As an employee, make sure you take your time and double-check your work as you go. Try to avoid driving drowsy, and use extra care when things are icy, rainy, or foggy. And if you put up holiday decorations around the office, always make sure they’re plugged into an appropriate electrical system.
The holidays are a wonderful time, but they can also cause a greater risk of workplace injury. Things are busier, the weather is worse, and normal safety procedures may start to slip down the priority list. Make sure employees are well-trained and keep those safety procedures a top priority during the holiday season.
If you’ve been involved in a workplace injury, get in touch with us at Dante Law Firm. We handle every sort of accident and injury law, from automobile accidents to workers comp. Learn how we can help you with your workplace injury case today.