Staying safe this Christmas season

2020 has been an eventful year, to say the least. And while many of us are ready to say goodbye to it, it’s important that we understand the added health and safety risks that come with the holiday season. By staying mindful, we can enjoy a happy end of year, and a healthy beginning to a new one!

Changing seasons and weather hazards

In the Southern Hemisphere, Summer is already upon us. For those in the North, Winter is setting in. While these seasons are polar opposites (pun very much intended), there are some health and safety risks to be extra aware of… 

Heat Safety

For those of us in the swing of Summer’s sultry shine, there are many factors that make us more prone to the effects of heat, such as our age, fitness, weight, general health and medical conditions, as well as our consumption of drugs and alcohol.  

If you see a colleague, or if you yourself are experiencing heavy sweating, irritability, clumsiness, lack of thirst, paleness, or a headache, make sure you loosen tight equipment and clothing, hydrate and rest under a shaded, cool area.

However if you see someone, or if you yourself experience dizziness, nausea, slurring of speech and odd behaviour, immediately call for medical assistance and rest under a cool, shaded area while you wait.

Cold Safety

For those wrapped in winter’s wet windiness, however, the cold is what you will be wanting to look out for. It is important to layer up and try to stay warm as the cold weather sets in. When you’re working in the cold, be mindful of the increased risk of muscular injuries, as our muscles are less flexible in the cold, and of slips, trips and falls as surfaces become wet and slippery.

Watch out for the signs and symptoms of cold stress – if you see a colleague, or if you yourself are experiencing reddening of the skin, tingling, pain, swelling, numbness, blisters or uncontrollable shivering, seek medical assistance.

Returning to work after time off

In 2020, almost 40% of our lost time injuries for the year occurred in January and February alone. The beginning of the year is a hectic time for us all, so it’s important to make sure we are well-rested, focused, and prepared to work safely. 

We can do this by:

  • Checking our usual communication channels to stay up to date with changes and important information
  • Refreshing our memory on risk assessments and the hazards in the workplace
  • Looking at the work environment with fresh eyes – reporting any hazards 
  • Taking 2 minutes before starting a task to get back into a safe mindset
  • Communicating with others – if you are not sure about something, ask
  • Watching out for each other and intervening if you see someone at risk
  • Following the GFG Life Savers for our critical risks

New and Casual Workers

Around this time of year we have a lot of new and casual workers joining us. These workers can often be unfamiliar with the workspace. And since we know that workers with less than two years’ experience account for around 40% of injuries across the organisation, it’s our responsibility to support and keep them safe.

As a New or Casual Worker:

If you are a new worker, take 2 minutes to understand your working environment, the protocols and procedures surrounding it, as well as your supervisors, and report any hazards, incidents and concerns you may see or have. 

Supervising a New or Casual Worker:

If you are supervising a new starter or casual, take them to the worksite and explain to them the environment, rules, and risks. Check in with them regularly, make sure they have your contact information in case you have to leave them, and that they know to STOP and seek out assistance if something changes or if they’re unsure. 

Working with a New or Casual Worker:

If you are working with a new or casual worker, help them become familiar with the workspace, intervene if you see them at risk if it is safe to do so, and report any hazards and incidents. 

If we follow these simple tips, we can help keep ourselves and our teammates safe throughout the holiday period – because everyone deserves to go home safely this Christmas season! 

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