Debunking Festive Season Health and Safety Myths

From office decorations to toy donations, businesses and organisations do a lot of things in the name of health and safety. This guidance from the HSE reminds you of what it does not require by law during the festive season.

Christmas decorations and lights: HSE does not prohibit workers from putting up decorations, nor does it require decorations to be put up by a ‘qualified’ person. Simply remind your employees of how they can decorate safely. Many companies also believe that they need to test their decorative lights every year. However, such testing is not required by health and safety regulations; just check for obvious signs of damage before putting up lights.

Snow clearing:  HSE debunks the myth that if someone clears snow from outside their business or home, they are likely to get sued if an accident occurs. “Nobody who volunteers to support their community by clearing pavements during icy conditions should feel they are in danger of being sued.”  Clearing pavements “makes it easier for people to get about” and there is no health and safety legislation that supports this myth.

Toy donations: In Carmarthenshire, South Wales, the Christmas Toybox scheme asked that donors provide new toys, rather than used, for health and safety reasons. HSE Wales pointed out that health and safety regulations do not ban second-hand toys from being donated, though organisers may still want to check that used toys are clean and in good condition.

Whatever activities your company engages in during the festive season, remember that health and safety regulations are meant to protect your employees and customers from real workplace risks, not to prevent people from enjoying the spirit of the season.