Christmas festivities and colder weather can spell worry for safety conscious companies... but how concerned do we really need to be about health and safety in the office, and what should we really be focusing on?
Seasonal office health and safety: True or false?
There is a minimum office temperature for employees set in law. This actually isn't true - though the temperature should be 'reasonable', there is no legal minimum below which employees must be sent home. However, as a guide, workers who are moving around should have a temperature of 13 degrees C or more - and for office workers (who tend to sit down more, so don't generate much warmth) it should be at least 16 degrees.
You need to take reasonable steps to clear snow and ice from your premises. Yes, you could be at risk if someone has an accident entering or leaving your premises. This could include clearing snow from your entrance, or putting down grit or sand to prevent employees or customers from slipping and falling. In the case of an accident, you need to be able to show that you've taken some reasonable steps to prevent accidents from occurring. Read this advice from the Government on how to safely clear snow and ice.
You can't let staff put up Christmas decorations in the office. Bah, humbug! There's no reason to stop employees getting into the festive spirit. Just make sure they approach this sensibly (for example, not standing on chairs), and provide them with safety steps or a ladder if needed. Make sure cables from fairy lights are safely taped down to avoid trips and falls, that nothing flammable is put up near a source of ignition, and that decorative lights are switched off when staff leave for the day.
Employers are responsible for staff behaviour at the office Christmas party. Employers are legally responsible for the acts of their employees carried out as part of their duties. But the risk doesn't disappear when staff leave their place of work. This includes Christmas parties held off site and outside working hours. So make sure events are properly supervised, especially when alcohol is involved, and that you have a plan in place to ensure employees can get home safely afterwards.
To find out how Penarth Management Limited can help your business be safer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 029 2070 3328.