Do your Christmas decorations need risk assessing?

Do your Christmas decorations really need risk assessing?

You might think it’s Health & Safety policy gone mad or people are pulling your leg, but if you’re decorating your premises for Christmas, certain tasks will in fact need risk assessing.

That’s not to say you need to go overboard and start conducting risk assessments for every single item, but some common activities that you need to look at include:

  • Putting combustible decorations (like tinsel and fairy lights) up near faulty electricals – it’s also worth bearing in mind that your fairy lights themselves could be the faulty electrical.
  • Manual handling: will any employees be required to cart awkward and/or heavy boxes of decorations around, maybe even from a loft?
  • Working at height: if you’re hanging decorations up high, make sure employees are doing so safely and with the support of others – and that means not dangling from wobbly chairs!
  • If you’re decorating any outdoor areas, be aware of hazardous, adverse weather conditions. If it’s cold, make sure employees are wearing a coat, and if it’s windy make sure someone’s holding the ladder. Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should always be worn, and employees should always be supervised.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully it’s given you a decent idea of the types of activities that need a risk assessment compliance check.

The risk assessment

So, let’s move on to the actual risk assessment and take a look at some of the hazards and existing controls you should have in place:

HazardWho could be harmed?Existing controls
Combustible materials
Build-up of combustible materials
Poor storage within the vicinity of ignition points
All employees, children and visitors, and those in the surrounding buildings/rooms if the fire gets out of control.Everyone should be aware of your fire procedures.
Combustible materials should be stored correctly
No naked flames to be used in the area
Provision of appropriate firefighting equipment
Routine safety checks should be conducted.
Electrical faults that lead to fires or electric shocksAll employees, children and visitors, and those in the surrounding buildings/rooms if the fire gets out of control.Ensure only competent people carry out maintenance on electrical supplies
Make sure your plugs aren’t overloaded
Stick to regular PAT Testing
Check all your electrical equipment is fit for purpose
Have a clear first aid procedure in place.
Fires caused by a naked flame
Faulty electrical equipment
Systems, arson, explosion or chemical means
All employees, children and visitorsMake sure your fire exits are unobstructed
Train all employees on good housekeeping techniques
All fire wardens should receive instructions on how to use fire extinguishers
Display fire exit signs at the nearest and safest final exit to outside
Keep up with routine fire alarm testing.
Obstruction of fire exit
Escape routes not clear for safe evacuation
All employees, children and visitorsRoutinely check your fire exit routes
Check that reporting procedures are being followed
Make sure everyone’s sticking to your good housekeeping practices.
Poor housekeeping, resulting in slips, trips and fallsAll employees, children and visitorsTrain all employees on good housekeeping techniques
Make sure all employees are following your good housekeeping techniques
Carry out routine safety checks
Ensure all areas are kept clear.

These are just a handful of the existing controls your business should have in place. If you’re a Citation client, you can see the full list of controls needed by searching for our ‘Decorating an office for seasonal events’ risk assessment in Atlas.

If you’re not yet a client and have any questions around your Health & Safety responsibilities over the festive season, then get in touch with the team today on 0345 844 1111 or use the form on this page.


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