Preparing your business for potential holiday hazards

Menorahs and Christmas trees light up Main Streets across America during the holidays, but there are risks associated with these decorations. Risk management professionals and insurance agents can help business owners understand how to keep their stores festive yet hazard free during the holidays.

The holidays usually bring several things to a small business – more foot traffic, celebratory decorations and additional staff to help with boosted sales.  However, with added customers and distractions, slips and trips are never far away. So when getting into the holiday spirit, you should make safety a priority.

Training employees on safety practices key to reducing injuries

New or seasonal hires often bring greater risk when it comes to frequency of injuries. In fact, they are five-times more likely to experience an injury in their first month of employment which can be significant enough to require them to miss work, leaving you short-handed at a time when you need all hands on deck*.

Therefore, training employees in workplace safety from day one is key. Helpful tips to keep in mind when safeguarding your store include:

  • Make sure new hires are familiar with their surroundings and responsibilities. While they may have a lot of industry experience, your unique facility is still unfamiliar territory.
  • Train employees in proper lifting techniques and ladder safety.
  • Ensure that your candles are battery operated. Decorations also go hand-in-hand with potential accidents and injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the top 4 highest days of the year for candle fires happen between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. So in a busy retail environment, or even in the office, faux candles may be best.
  • Choose your decorations wisely. Many of them are combustible, or will burn. Things like paper, decorated trees and wreaths will increase the fire load in a small business. Keep them away from heat or other ignition sources.
  • Use extension cords properly, and be sure you aren’t ”daisy-chaining” them in order to extend a decoration or a theme to an area where the plug cannot reach. Aside from a potential trip and fall incident, this is also a fire hazard.
  • Choose smart locations for any additional holiday displays and products. Be sure you are not covering up emergency exit signs, over-crowding aisle ways—anything that would make it difficult to get out in an emergency situation.
  • Be sure decorations are secured properly and traffic can navigate easily around them, especially when it comes to big displays.
  • Maintain appropriate inventory levels. Over-stocking shelves could lead to items toppling onto staff or customers.
  • As a general rule, always take the time to scan your facility to make sure it’s safe for customers and employees. It should be a part of your daily process to open and/or close up shop.
     
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