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Keep safe this holiday season

'Tis the silly season, yet it's not the time to forget about safety at work and home. Remember most of us are more likely to get injured at home rather than work. WorkCover Queensland says that injury claims tend to rise in the lead-up to Christmas. Here are some tips for maintaining focus.

Manage Fatigue - Barbara Martin from Work Cover Queensland cites, "People rush to get everything done before Christmas. But after a busy year they're often already worn out and can easily lose concentration, which leads to mistakes and injuries". “Your ability to think clearly is vital when making safety-related decisions and this can be impaired when mental or physical exhaustion sets in. Everyone needs time to rest and recover or else they could make a mistake in the workplace that threatens their own health or that of a workmate,” said Workplace Health and Safety Queensland in a media release. “Workers and managers needed to cooperate to better manage fatigue during the Christmas rush as it can involve factors both inside and outside of the workplace. Employers and business operators are responsible under workplace health and safety legislation for protecting their workers from the adverse effects of fatigue. Workers must ensure they are fit for duty and should raise any concerns about workloads and work pressures such as deadlines with their supervisor or health and safety representative.”

Manage Stress - Christmas can be a particularly stressful time for some people. Those who work in FIFO roles can find it particularly difficult being away from their family over this time of year. Others working in industries that close down like construction can experience financial hardship if they're living week to week.

John Brady from MATES in Construction provides great advice for how employees can support mates who may be doing it tough over this period. Share these tips with your workforce:

  • If you know this is the first Christmas for a mate without a loved one, or without children due to relationship breakdown, or other stressful events, it’s good to make contact with them to check they are okay
  • Changes in normal behaviour for a mate is also a clue that all is not right with them – once again it’s good to check in with them
  • Trust your gut instinct – if you feel a mate is not doing so well you are probably right – tell them you sense things are not right and see if you can offer support. Sometimes just a chat with a mate can be enough to assure them they are not alone with the difficulties and challenges they may be experiencing.

Be Mindful of Temporary Workers - Employers often recruit temporary employees to cover for holidays. It's important to ensure that these workers receive full safety inductions and training. "Temporary workers are at most risk of injury at this time of year because they are hired for a specific purpose and timeframe and safety inductions may not always be a high priority," says Work Cover Queensland.

Make Christmas Parties memorable for all the right reasons - It's all fun and games 'till someone gets hurt. It's important to make sure employees understand what conduct and behaviour is acceptable at Christmas Parties ahead of time. To ensure a safe event always have an alcohol policy in place; monitor the consumption of alcohol throughout the function; ensure that underage workers do not consume alcohol; provide sufficient food and non-alcoholic beverages; provide first aid facilities; ensure the premises is vacated at the end of the function; and arrange for additional security if necessary. You must also ensure that workers leave the event or venue safely. Make it clear when the function ends and ensure that workers have access to a safe means of transport home (e.g. taxis).

Communicate and the communicate some more - As always, communication can not be underestimated. Be sure to remind your workers to work safe right up to their very last shift, travel safe and party safe this festive season.


About Generative HSE

Generative HSE is one of Australia’s leading providers of safety and risk solutions providing a range of innovative, evidence-based WHS consultancy, training and facilitation services.

Our work results in visible, sustainable improvements to safety and risk performance, as well as increased productivity, quality and profitability.