Christmas is here and it’s a time for celebration. But what are your work safety obligations? For most of us Christmas involves a party or function of some kind where everyone traditionally lets their hair down and has some fun. It is important in this time of fun and frivolity that we do not lose focus on the need to provide a safe environment for our party revellers.
Whether you are having your party in the office, factory, warehouse or work site it will be necessary to carry out a risk assessment on the space being used, to eliminate any hazards and reduce the risk of injury. Just because it is a party does not mean employees don’t have the right to lodge compensation claims – as a matter of fact it is probably more important because you will be providing alcohol and food. Here are a few things to consider:
- Responsible service of alcohol – consumption of alcohol should be monitored, particularly if the employee is young. A good policy is to have someone administering the alcohol rather than individuals helping themselves. Ensure underaged employees or vistitors are not served alcohol and that intoxicated employees are denied further alcohol.
- Provide food – when providing food you must take care with the preparation so that it doesn’t make people ill. Labelling on the food to show the ingredients is a good way of avoiding any allergies and ensuring that individuals are able to make correct choices of what they can and can’t eat.
- Xmas decorations securely fastened and any cords safely concealed, eliminating tripping hazards.
- Transport – If your xmas party is off site and you have arranged for transport to deliver your staff, it is advisable that you also organise transport to return your staff to your workplace. It will then be considered their responsibility to safely travel home from their place of work as per normal.
- Management should set a good example for others by drinking responsibly.
It is also worth noting that if your party/function is for clients and your staff are expected to attend as part of their employment role there may be other factors for you to consider. If your employees or guests are from out of town and you are providing their accommodation, you will effectively be responsible for their safety during their stay and that includes on their way home from the function. There was a case recently in Victoria where an employee was attacked and beaten on the way home from a function that she was obligated to attend. Because she was from out of town and was provided accommodation by her employer the Victorian WorkCover Authority conceded that this was a valid claim and compensation was paid.
So whether you are having your celebrations in-house or off-site there is a definite need to make sure you are providing a safe environment at all times. It is a time to remind staff that things like bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated. We all want to end the year on a happy note and build and maintain a healthy morale within the workplace. We want to have the employees feel valued and appreciated, so take the time to effectively manage the risks and enjoy your party.