With the approaching holiday seasons, and as you and your employees try to juggle parties, shopping, hosting, planning, traveling, and work, there’s a good chance that some will lose focus and momentum in the workplace.

We often see a rise in accidents from the distractions during the holiday season. Here are simple ways to stay focused and maintain high productivity during the chaotic holiday season:

  1. Clear your mind. Get your tasks and projects, both personal and professional, onto paper and out of your head. Once you see all your commitments and want-to-do’s, decide which to drop and which could wait until the New Year.
  2. Start working on year-end projects and personal tasks early. Start your holiday shopping earlier than you have in the past, and get a head start on any upcoming projects at work. This way, you'll have fewer to-do items when you’re busy with office parties and planning family gatherings later this month.
  3. Be alert to distractions. While at the office, don’t try to cram in shopping at lunch or buy gifts online. At work, focus on work. You can take on the holiday chores during your personal time. It will also free you from trying too many things at once.
  4. Take care of yourself physically. Exercise more, not less, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Sleep more, not less; thirty minutes a night can make a big difference. And watch what you eat and drink - the increase in sugary foods and alcoholic beverages will impact you the next day at work, both mentally and physically!
  5. Don’t over-commit. Be sure to prioritize and balance your holiday activities with your work obligations. Don’t feel like you have to go to every department lunch gathering or office party you get invited to. Keeping focused and maintaining a good work-life balance sometimes means saying no. Remember what the holidays are all about.
  6. Set limits for total holiday spending. Give your credit card and mind a holiday by limiting what you buy to what can safely come from your bank account. Use this opportunity to create or get your budget into fighting shape and use it to decide how much money you can afford to spend.
  7. Keep in mind the holiday season is for celebration. This should be a joyful time of the year. A chaotic holiday season is a choice, not a given. These distractions can and often lead to injuries and illness, too.

Falling While Decorating

Thousands of people are injured each holiday season by falling off ladders and chairs as they put up decorations. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that over 5,000 people are injured in fall-related injuries attributed to holiday decorating or related activities. Holiday decorators fall from:

  • Ladders
  • Roofs
  • Stairs
  • Porches 
  • Furniture (e.g., standing on a chair to hang decorations)
  • People also may sustain fall injuries by tripping over or slipping on holiday-related items (e.g., tree skirts, extension cords)

Most holiday decorating falls involve using ladders or using something to substitute for a ladder.

These accidents can be avoided by using ladders properly:

  1. Ensure the ladder is on a level surface and the areas around its top and bottom are clear.
  2. For every 4 feet in height, space the bottom of the ladder 1 foot from the wall.
  3. Extend a ladder at least 3 feet beyond the edge of a roof.
  4. Stay centered between the ladder’s rails. Move the ladder instead of overreaching.
  5. Make sure stepladders are fully opened and locked.

Holiday Fires

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) focused on fires caused by Christmas trees and candles. 50% of Christmas tree fires happen between December 22 through January 5 due to faulty lights, candle decorations, and more. Candles-started fires account for 13% of the fires each December. Keep lit candles away from trees, decorations, curtains, furniture, and other items that can catch fire. Never leave a candle burning.

Put all candles out before leaving the room. When decorating with a recently cut Christmas tree, make sure it is green and its needles do not fall out easily, which means it is fresh. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin. Set a tree up away from heat sources, such as HVAC vents, radiators, or fireplaces, and away from foot traffic. Check its water level every day. Check tree lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw out damaged strings of lights. Be sure to use indoor lights on a tree indoors. Check extension cords, and do not use cords with cuts or signs of fraying.

Slipping & Tripping

Depending on where you live or work, the holiday season usually brings wet conditions such as rain; in some areas, snow and ice are the hazards you may have to deal with. Having walk-off mats at your entry doors is a great way to reduce the amount of water or snow tracked into your buildings. As a property owner, you may be liable if you did not correctly remove or deal with wet conditions or snow and ice on sidewalks, steps, or driveways on or adjacent to your premises. Remove the snow and spread an ice-melting product, such as rock salt. Some commercial products are designed to be used before snow falls. Be sure to read labels and follow precautions on the SDS (Safety Data Sheets) about these chemicals.

Bad Weather Car Accidents

Wet and snowy/icy conditions on roads create driving hazards that is sometimes unavoidable. When driving on wet or icy roads, the best advice is to slow down and allow more distance between your car and the cars ahead of you. Stay about 20 seconds behind other cars in case they stop suddenly. Signal well before lane changes or turns so other drivers have time to slow down and give you room. Avoid hard braking because braking can send your car into a skid. Slow down by easing up on the accelerator when possible. If your car begins to skid, turn toward the slide.

Holiday Celebrations

Many people attend parties and gatherings during the winter holiday season. Some gatherings and celebrations include alcohol. Unfortunately, car accidents caused by drunk drivers increase around the holidays; just remember that all drunk driving accidents are entirely preventable. If you plan to attend a party and drink alcohol, have a designated driver, or get a taxi or a ridesharing service to take you home.

Food Poisoning

This illness is caused by eating contaminated food. Food poisoning has many forms, ranging from mild stomach problems to potentially life-threatening illnesses. It is essential to take steps to prevent this illness while on holiday. 1 in 6 Americans suffer from food-borne illnesses each year. Thawing a turkey in an uncontrolled environment can lead to this illness.

Try to avoid the following types of food:

  • Not cooked thoroughly
  • Left out/not stored at the correct temp.
  • Not prepared hygienically
  • Re-heated incorrectly  

Remember to keep everyone healthy this year by understanding - and avoiding - the most common distractions and accidents will make for a more enjoyable holiday season for everyone.

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