The holiday season, rather the run-up to it, is perhaps the busiest time of the year for most businesses. However, heavier workloads and tighter deadlines can increase the risk of accidents and incidents. WorkSafe Victoria statistics reveal that the weeks leading up to the Christmas break have reported the highest number of deaths than at any other time of the year.

Sayfa Group has prepared a 10-point checklist to help you keep an eye on safe working practices at your business operation, especially during the holidays.

1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

When was the last time you checked your harnesses for wear and tear? Schedule these checks so that your PPE equipment is always ready for safe use; ensure there is no fraying and that your equipment has no broken or missing parts. Harnesses must be adjusted to suit the clothing that you are wearing; if they haven’t been used since winter, you may need to tighten them to suit lighter summer clothing.

2. Workload

Are your employees overworked? When workloads get heavier, your staff may be required to work longer hours in the weeks preceding the holidays. A responsible employer will protect their workers from the associated higher stress levels during this period. Keep a vigilant eye out for signs of stress and strain before they become major issues. If workloads are extreme, organising temporary staff may offer the required relief over this time.

3. Access and Fall Protection Equipment Audits

Scheduling a height safety audit at start of summer is advised. The advent of summer will require maintenance checks on air conditioning units and other rooftop equipment, which means people will need to access the roof. As an employer or business owner, you will need to ensure this is done efficiently, effectively and most importantly, as safely as possible. If you need a bit more assistance to determine if your working-at-height practices are up to standard, why not conduct our 3-minute Height Safety Health Check?

4. Training

Training your employees to work at height is a basic requirement for a safe workplace; however, this is often overlooked when things get too busy. From training your people to work at heights, to giving instruction in the use of machinery or other practical information that help them perform their tasks safely, please ensure you have covered all bases to create a safe workplace.

5. Shortcuts

It’s quite common to see workers taking shortcuts to get the job done quicker during periods of increased workloads and shorter deadlines. Failure to follow the normal safety practices and excluding vital steps towards task fulfilment can lead to serious incidents.

6. Weather

The Australian summer can be brutal, especially when it comes to working at height in an outdoor environment where conditions can be even more extreme. For information on staying safe in summer, read our article Hot weather tips to keep you safe.

7. External Influences

One always looks forward to the holidays but it’s also a time when expenses build up, causing financial hardship and strain on many families. It’s also a time when the feeling of loneliness can be particularly intense. As their employer, you have a duty to keep a check on how your workers are coping and if warranted, consider providing assistance to those who may be in need.

8. Maintenance

Heavy workloads and tight deadlines can affect both the workforce as well as the machinery. Increased production puts pressure on your machinery resulting in equipment failure or maintenance requirement. Sometimes in an effort to ‘get things out’, serious faults can be overlooked and necessary repairs may not be conducted immediately as they would be in less busy times. Failure to take care of any problems with your machinery can mean you are placing your workers at risk of serious injury.

9. Decorations

Introduce decorations in your workplace during the holidays to add happiness and cheer. Many companies choose to adorn their working areas with lighting, tinsel and other assorted decorations. Always ensure that all electrical equipment used is in good operational condition and that any power boards are not being overloaded. Also, don't forget to turn off electrical equipment when unattended.

10. Celebrations

If you are planning a party for your workers at the workplace just ahead of the holidays, you have a Duty of Care as their employer to ensure that they are not putting themselves or others at risk. Alcohol can lower inhibitions and change behaviour in some people so it is important to monitor people's reactions and take appropriate action if necessary. Nobody wants that end of year party to result in tragic incidents or accidents.