Decorating? Fire Safety Never Takes a Holiday

‘Tis the season to deck the (workplace) halls. But not so fast! Facility and safety managers need to keep some basic preventative protocols in mind, or else they might end up on Santa’s naughty list. 

Here are some important considerations to keep in mind as you pull out all the stops for holiday decorating:

  • The same rules of preventing seasonal house fires apply to worksites. Please review my recent blog for insight on the importance of keeping fire safety and prevention top of mind at home.
  • In addition to complying with all OSHA regulations, businesses may want to craft their own set of policies related to decorating. For instance:
    • You should prohibit candles and opt for an artificial tree instead of a live one. Per the National Fire Protection Association, “a disproportionate share of Christmas tree fires involved natural trees.” They found that live tree fires outnumbered artificial-tree fires by about three to one and caused about 20 times more injuries.  Note that one-quarter of Christmas tree fires still involve fake trees. 
    • If you allow lighting, make sure all displays are on a timer and/or employees remember to turn them off at the end of the day.
    • Outdoor displays will require different wiring and protections.
    • Don’t run cords through walls and doors, as this presents a hazard.
    • LED light bulbs draw less power than incandescent varieties. That lowers fire risk and operating cost.
    • Finally, have a plan for safely storing these items in the off season.

  • Contractors must play by the rules. I know of a case in which a client hired a professional to decorate for the holidays and the job went awry. The contractor used multi-plugs and daisy chained circuit breakers, overloading circuits. Following this snafu, the company decided to change its policy — they would run the electrical safely to the decorations and then let the decorator take care of making it pretty. 

The lesson: Have a plan!  Keep an eye on things in case something goes south and don’t be afraid to push back if the work is sloppy. It could mean the difference between a disaster and a delightful display.

Wishing you the safest Holiday Season,


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