The sad truth about this headline, is that many employees believe (some rightly so) that employers do not really care about their health and safety when they are not at work. It is believed that this short-sighted crowd are quite satisfied if employees manage to return to work after a break with enough parts still functioning to continue their work. (The argument that the employee did not have enough parts left that was still functioning being the reason they went on break in the first place is a whole other blog …)

The Christmas holiday is always a special occasion, and even more so in South Africa as it is also the main vacation time for most South Africans. But, unfortunately, during this relaxed time safety hazards still lurk nearby. And because we care about your safety at work and at home, allow us to present some realistic safety tips to keep in mind during the Christmas festivities (and, ok, we’ll be honest, it won’t be a bad idea if you keep these in mind when you are back at work also …)

  • Make sure that plugs are not damaged, sockets are not overloaded, and that cables and leads are not frayed.

Christmas usually comes with extra demands for electricity, through decorations, personal shopping or gifting, the number of gadgets and appliances requiring electricity increases. It is always important to keep in mind that overloaded sockets or damaged connections is a fire hazard that can be easily avoided by common sense load management.


  • Make sure flammable items are kept a safe distance away from fire hazards.

For example, do not drape tinsel around a burning candle. A decorative trend that has also been causing problems involve adding real, burning candles to the Christmas tree. This trend has led to hundreds of fires in countries where the use or a real tree is common – but please keep in mind that in South Africa we normally use the plastic variety!  Always turn of the Christmas lights when leaving home or going to bed and blow out all the candles. The number one fire hazard over this period is a forgotten, simmering pot on the stove. Please invest in more cooking timers before preparing the Christmas feast – we all know how hectic it can get in the kitchen!


  • Use a suitable stepladder or sturdy stool when putting up the Christmas decorations.

This one is definitely an overflow from a far-too-common workplace hazard – people often do stand on a rolling chair to don the angel or star on the top of the Christmas tree as much as they do to reach a high item in the office.

  • Open a box or packaging using scissors instead of a knife, and always cut away from yourself.

Another classic Christmas Eve injury is cuts ranging from only requiring a band-aid to more serious ones requiring a trip to the emergency room.


  • Christmas is a cornucopia of choking hazards for small children.

Age-appropriate toys will always endeavour to be mindful to not include detachable parts that may become choking hazards to small children. When small children are around older children whose toys may be less suitably designed to avoid choking hazards, parents should keep a close eye on the little ones. Also, keep an eye out for small bulbs, hooks or ornaments that may have fallen from the Christmas decorations. Caution should also be exercised to keep batteries away from small children as they, too, pose a choking hazard. Lastly, try to decorate the tree with the smallest ornaments to the top, out of reach of both small children and pets.

Safety@Work wishes everyone a safe and joyful festive season!