Keeping your staff safe this Christmas season

Christmas is a wonderful time of year – everyone seems happier, decorations hang from trees and ceilings and festive music plays from private and public speakers. Better still, friends and family all want to catch up for some merriment and the boss wants to throw the annual Christmas party, but it might not all end in smiles and happiness, particularly if you are the boss and something goes terribly wrong and the end-of-year get together.

Office Christmas parties are notorious for their tendency to cause long-term upset in an office environment, when someone has too much to drink and, at best, says something to someone they are going to regret or, at worst, acts inappropriately and possibly illegally towards a fellow staff member. In addition, the office Christmas part is, by law, considered a work environment and if a staff member or invited guest is injured, you could be up for a WorkCover or public liability claim.

No one is suggesting you become a Scrooge and abolish Christmas all together. Just take a few precautions to keep you, your business and your staff safe this season.

Be claims aware

Make sure you are aware of your and your staff’s rights and obligations in case something untoward happens and a claim is made against the business. Being fore-armed is fore-warned, so a little pre-party research can’t go astray.

Be responsible with the alcohol

A party isn’t a party without alcohol – but that doesn’t mean you have no responsibility for how much your guests drink. Monitor the consumption of alcohol, particularly if you have some young, inexperienced drinkers on your staff. Arrange for a senior colleague to administer the alcohol, rather than leave it on a table for everyone to help themselves. Better yet, hire an experienced bar tender with the relevant service qualifications – such as a Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate – to take over these duties.

Eat and be more responsibly merry

You can help limit your guests’ alcohol intake by also providing food. It doesn’t have to be a three course, sit down meal. Just some party food that put something substantial in their stomachs. But be sure that the food is prepared and stored correctly and you can inform people with allergies what is in the ingredients. You don’t want to go to all that trouble keeping them sober, only to have them come down with food poisoning.

Keep a safe environment

Regardless of where the party if held, it is still considered a work environment. Make sure there are no fall, trip or other hazards about and that the venue is safe and up to regulatory standards. Similarly, ensure any Christmas decorations are not a danger and securely fastened and that all electoral cords are safely tucked away, eliminating tripping and electrocution dangers.

Finally, as a manager, make sure you set a good example for others by drinking and behaving responsibly. Everyone should have a good time, you don’t want your very merry Christmas to turn into an extremely unhappy New Year!