Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
December 1, 2022

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

winter-related hazards

Winter-related hazards – Protecting your workplace this Christmas

With Christmas quickly approaching, wintry weather brings with it a host of related health and safety risks, from hanging up decorations in the office, to slipping on icy pavements, SOCOTEC wants to help ensure your employees stay safe during the festive season.

Icy conditions

When snow and ice appear, road conditions can quickly deteriorate. Travelling to and from work is much riskier during the winter seasons, so taking the necessary safety precautions is essential. For example, checking that your tyres are in good condition, having an emergency supply kit in your boot and ensuring your route is clear before setting off can all make the difference and ensure that you get to work safely.

Electrical safety

Did you know that more than one in 40 (2.7%) people have suffered an electric shock due to badly wired Christmas lights? While indoor Christmas lights do not require PAT tests, employees should take sensible precautions to lessen the risk of electrocution, such as:

  • Buying lights with safety marks on the packaging
  • Checking for obvious signs of damage
  • Following the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Keeping them clear of flammable materials
  • Remembering to turn them off at the end of each day.

Working at Height

When putting up decorations around the workplace, employers need to make sure suitable and safe equipment is provided to hang these from height, and that any risks such as trailing wires are limited as much as is reasonably possible.

Slips, trips and falls

Nearly a third (32%) of people have fallen on ice, so it’s important that we ensure that all areas are gritted, that pathways are clear of detritus such as leaves and that there is adequate lighting available.

Idle buildings

With many employees taking annual leave over the Christmas period, workplaces are often empty or at reduced capacity, which can heighten the risk of a number of different safety issues.When considering how best to manage an idle building, it is important to recognise they are vulnerable to a series of risks, such as fire, in order to prevent arson attacks when a building is idle, organisations should check that all windows and doors have secure locks that are used, board up all accessible windows with secure panels and secure access ladders. It is also important for businesses to review the fire loading associated within the building and measures to remove any combustible (including fixtures/fittings) that might provide fuel for a fire. Consideration of de-fuelling the idle building should also be made.


There is a higher risk when a building is idle as they can heighten the risk of stagnant water systems due to infrequent usage. In result this could increase the risk of Legionella’s disease, this is potentially a fatal type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria that is inhaled into the lungs, with aerosol-forming equipment such as showers posing a particularly high level of risk.

Freezing pipes

Lastly, in order to prevent pipes from freezing in wintry conditions, it is recommended for employers to insulate pipes and water tanks – for example, wrapping pipes in cold areas with pipe sponge covers. Pipes tend to expand when they freeze, which can crack your pipes and lead to a number of problems, such as leaks.

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments