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:

Combustible materials

The hazard: Build-up of combustible materials, poor storage within the vicinity of an ignition point

Who’s at risk? 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

The hazard: Electrical faults that lead to fires or electric shocks

Who’s at risk? All employees, children and visitors, and those in the surrounding buildings/rooms if the fire gets out of control.


  • Make sure 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


The hazard: Fires caused by a naked flame, faulty electrical equipment, systems, arson, explosion or chemical means

Who’s at risk? All employees, children and visitors


  • Make 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 exits

The hazard: Escape routes are not clear for safe evacuation

Who’s at risk? All employees, children and visitors


  • Routinely check your fire exit routes
  • Check that reporting procedures are being followed
  • Make sure everyone’s sticking to your good housekeeping practices


The hazard: Poor housekeeping, resulting in slips, trips and falls

Who’s at risk? All employees, children and visitors


  • Train 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. And remember, we’re available 24/7 on our advice line, just call 0345 844 4848.

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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