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The Festive Season is here!
The party season has already begun with preparations well underway in healthcare premises such as care homes, residential homes or homes in the community where service users are supported. Staff, along with service users, are getting prepared for the long jolly Christmas and New Year festivities. Although having a fun festive time is uppermost in everyone’s mind, the increase in risk due to new hazards will need to be addressed. Changes will take place on the premises as staff get organised to ensure service users or residents get in the festive mood. This undoubtedly will bring hazards that staff will need to be alert to. Some of these hazards could be caused by:
- Drinking in the workplace.
- Christmas decorations.
- Lighting candles.
- Christmas plants.
- Food poisoning.
- Kitchen hazards.
Drinking in the workplace
Residents and other service users in their own homes may drink alcohol to celebrate the festivities. An increase of alcohol will be consumed during the festive season as visitors and parties increase. Staff need to be vigilant to ensure service users or residents don’t get sick from excessive drinking.
Staff must not drink alcohol while working on the premises. The alcohol policy should be reiterated to staff to increase awareness of company policy.
A festive season needs decorations to add ambiance and glamour to the occasion. Staff and residents are at risk of getting injured when putting up decorations, particularly if some are put up on the outside of the building. Some planning needs to be done to plan the safest way to put up the decorations. Using a step ladder when putting up the tree can result in a slip, trip and fall injury. Faulty lights used from previous years or overloading sockets can cause electric shocks. Glass decorations, particularly broken baubles, can cause cuts.
The use of candles increases during the festive season. Tea lights inside a container are a safer option than using candles. Candles on a window can cause fires with curtains catching fire.
The plants that are used to decorate the premises such as Christmas rose, Christmas cherry, and mistletoe can cause ill health - especially the mistletoe which is poisonous.
Food poisoning can increase during the festive season with an increase in party food left on tables for long periods of time, or large turkeys not cooked for long enough.
Activity in the kitchen increases during the festive season as more party food is being prepared. Cuts from knives and other kitchen injuries increase during this festive time.
The festive season can be a stressful period for some people who find increased visits from relatives sometimes difficult, especially if alcohol is being consumed. There is an increase in spending as presents and food are purchased, which means financial difficulties could be an issue. There is generally an increase in drinking during this time. Late nights lead to a lack of sleep which means tiredness and irritability. The stress of Christmas shopping can be too much for some people as there is pressure to buy the perfect presents.
Planned Action to ensure a safe Christmas Season
Recommendations to being prepared as follows:
- Develop a risk assessment and include all details of controls needed for the preparation of this festive season. Ensure staff are aware of what controls need to be implemented to ensure the risk of an incident is eliminated or reduced.
- Conduct a risk awareness session with staff during a meeting highlighting the increased risk of injuries and how to prevent any incidents.
- Review service users risk assessments to ensure any festive vulnerabilities are addressed such as increased consumption, stressful visits, financial spending, and journeys to different places.
The best part about planning the festive season is enjoying it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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