Fire safety in the workplace at Christmas is often overlooked or underestimated. Christmas is a festive and joyful period, both at home and at work. But the festive season brings with its own set of fire safety hazards. From extra electrical appliances that might be brought into the workplace, such as fairy lights or extra room heaters, to evacuation routes becoming cluttered, or plug sockets overloaded. The workplace over Christmas poses different Fire Safety challenges. It’s important that all workplaces prepare for the festive season and anticipate the risks.
Make sure your Christmas tree is safe
Christmas trees are synonymous with Christmas. If you are planning to have one in your workplace, here’s how to ensure it is safe. Consider carefully where you are going to put it. Make sure it is not blocking any escape route or emergency exit. Christmas trees are highly flammable, as are their decorations and fairy lights. So, make sure your tree is not positioned anywhere near materials that could easily catch fire. If you are using fairy lights, do not overload your plug sockets. Consider using battery-operated fairy lights – they are now widely available. Ensure any plug operated fairy lights conform with safety standards and have been PAT tested and/or have a UK/ EU Fire Safety Mark. Turn off all Christmas lights at the end of each day.
Check the placement of your Christmas decorations
If you are also decorating other areas of your workplace then there are a few things to consider before you begin. Don’t attach Christmas decorations to lights or heaters. They can overheat and catch fire. Make sure your decorations don’t obstruct or obscure emergency exits or evacuation routes. When putting up Christmas lights ensure they are safety compliant and avoid putting them close to sources of heat or flammable materials. If you decide to have Christmas lights on during the day then ensure the workplace is still adequately lit. Ensure someone switches off the lights at the end of every day. If you are having a secret Santa with piles of presents (or even a lot of umbrellas and raincoats from extra visitors) ensure these items are properly stored and not blocking evacuation routes or pose a tripping hazard.
Be careful of your electrical appliances
You will probably be bringing new electrical appliances into the workplace for the holiday period. Ensure they conform with safety standards and have been PAT tested and/or have a UK / EU Fire Safety Mark. We would recommend logging all incoming items with your Fire Safety Officer so they can verify they are safety compliant. These items include everything from the Christmas tree lights and hot plates for Christmas buffets, to extra room heaters and speakers for your office party. All these items also all need to be plugged in. So be very careful not to overload electrical sockets. Take no risks.
Christmas parties and festive guests
Your workplace may receive more visitors and guests over the festive period. You might be hosting a Christmas party. Ask your guests to sign in and out of a visitor book to ensure you know who is onsite at all times. Ensure all guests know what to do in an emergency. Make your fire escape plans easily accessible, easily shareable and widely known.
No open flames or fires
Having an open fire in the workplace is not safe. We would not recommend using candles, or anything with an open flame when decorating for Christmas.
Fire testing at Christmas
The Christmas period is often a good moment to revisit and refresh your current fire safety practices. Re-test all your fire alarms before the office party. Perform an extra pre-Christmas fire evacuation drill after you have put up your decorations. Carry out an extra Fire Risk Assessment. And double-check the placement of your fire extinguishers. Christmas provides an opportunity to highlight possible problem areas. Use it to your advantage.
Talk to the experts
It is imperative that you have the correct fire safety equipment installed and that people know how to find and use it before something goes wrong. For this reason, and for all the associated fire risks that come with Christmas, we would always recommend seeking expert advice. Book a fire risk assessment for your workplace. Here at Benfield Fire Safety, we provide fire risk assessments and fire safety training to ensure you are fire safety aware, and, fire safe. All our fire risk assessors and qualified trainers are ex-fire officers with more than 25 years’ experience in the fire sector. So, don’t let the festive season become a risky one. Seek expert advice now and throughout the year for all fire safety matters.
Call us now for a free initial chat and to book a consultation by calling 0300 303 3277 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas fire safety checklist:
- Do not attach decorations to heaters or lights.
- Carefully consider where you place any Christmas trees.
- Do not block fire exits and evacuation routes.
- Do not overload electrical sockets.
- If you bring in any electrical device (including fairy lights) ensure it has a UK / EU fire safety mark (and log it with your Fire Safety Officer).
- No candles or open flames.
- Ensure all your visitors sign in and out of your visitors’
- Ensure all visitors are aware of the fire escape plans.
- Switch off all lights and appliances at the end of the day.
- Have fun and Merry Christmas.
We hope you enjoyed this article and found it to be a useful reference guide. Fire Safety should always be a priority for your workplace, throughout the year, not just at Christmas. As such we would always recommend a qualified Fire Safety Assessor visits your workplace to provide fire safety guidance specific to your business. The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. This article is not a substitute for a professional onsite meeting.