During this busy time of year, with the pressure to finish projects and the upcoming holiday season – all of it together brings stress and distractions. It is easy to become overwhelmed with everything going on, at once. Below we have outlined some ideas to help you manage during this hectic time of year and stay safe.

Did you know that there are specific workplace hazards that tend to crop up each year, during the holiday season? In order to protect yourself and your co-workers, you may want to bring up in your JHA and Toolbox Talks some of the following topics:

  • Staying Focused on the Task at Hand
  • Hazards of Rushing to Get Work Done on Time
  • Hazards of Fatigue (Physical & Mental)
  • Hazards of Stress Due to Work & The Holidays 

Red Christmas Ornaments on Wood Background and defocused lights. Spruce Tree branch on the left and right.

Stress, fatigue, and rushing are major contributors of accidents and injuries this time of year. That’s why it is especially important to stay focused and concentrate on the tasks at hand. The hazards listed above can be avoided if the right precautions are put into place.

Staying Focused
We all tend to deal with a lot of distractions during the holiday season – such as planning project shutdowns for time off, making travel plans to be with friends and family, shopping for gifts, the list goes on & on. However, none of this is an excuse for us to lose our focus at work. Help your co-workers keep their minds on task and focus on what they’re doing — especially if they are working in high-risk jobs. You may want to hold a toolbox talk and have an open discussion with your co-workers. Get them to understand why it’s so important for them to not let their minds wander in the middle of the day-to-day job.

Hazards of Rushing
Rushing can be caused by various factors at this time of year. The first is when workers cut corners or rush to get the job done in order to get home to their families. They are constantly watching the clock throughout the work week, counting down the minutes until they can head home for a much-needed break. Another reason has to do with the end-of-year demands on the project. Each project will have certain deadlines, quotas, or milestones that are set to be achieved by the end of the year. This can have a direct impact on the worker in the field. No matter the reason, make sure that you and your co-workers aren’t sacrificing your safety by rushing through the work.

Oftentimes rushing will lead to mistakes, which can be more costly to the project. If the work must be re-done, it’s more time and materials that the company must pay for and if the mistakes lead to an accident or injury, those costs can be significant, if not life threatening.

Encourage your co-workers to continue their work at a safe and steady pace. The risk just isn’t worth it. 

Hazards of Fatigue
Workers are more likely to experience fatigue during the holiday season. This also can be attributed to one of two things:

  • Working longer hours / extra hours to complete a job
  • Late nights at home / stress from home or holiday celebration

Some of you are more than happy to work long hours or pick up extra hours when needed. But if workers aren’t getting enough sleep, then it can affect their performance and their safety. They could be putting themselves and others at risk.

Stress from home or holiday celebrations along with multiple nights of staying up later than usual can also cause worker fatigue. This and other factors that occur outside of the workplace should be discussed even though management doesn’t have control of these situations. Hold a toolbox talk about the hazards of fatigue whether from work or outside of work. Review the importance of staying hydrated, eating right, and getting enough sleep.

Hazards of Stress
Stress can be caused by any of the hazards discussed above. Workers might feel stress and pressure to meet end-of-year deadlines. They might feel stressed about making enough money to buy presents for their kids and family. Even if a worker has a vacation planned, they might feel stressed about missing work!

Stress can make a co-worker frustrated and can cause them to lose their focus. Help them to alleviate their stress by creating an open opportunity to talk. Be there to help your co-workers through trying times. If you see a co-worker who appears to be overly stressed, make sure their supervisor is aware of it. There might be assistance programs available or something they can do to help.

Keep Yourself and Your Co-Workers Safe
Keep these tips in mind as-well and be on the lookout for hazards from stress, fatigue, and rushing. Make sure you and your co-workers are focused on the task at hand. Doing so could help prevent accidents and injuries in the coming weeks. Until next time…Work Safe & Be Safe!

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