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4 Winter and Holiday Safety Toolbox Talk Topics for December

Holiday themed toolbox talk

The month of December brings a lot of things, most notably the holidays—there’s Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve and a number of parties to mark the occasions. But December also brings a long list of recurring incidents and injuries year after year. The good news is you can protect your workers by delivering some well-prepared toolbox talks in your facility.

Holiday safety

When it comes to talking about holiday safety, decorating is one of the main causes of injuries that impacts more than just a person’s home life. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 200 people suffer from decoration-related injuries per day in the holiday season. Since Christmas decorating seems to be a big part of holiday-related injuries, citing a statistic can have a major impact on your toolbox talk. When citing stats, be sure that they come from a credible source. You may also want to consider talking about fires, travel, food preparation/consumption hazards or specifically on using real candles for menorahs or Christmas trees.

SafeStart has designed some free resources for holiday safety—from a detailed brochure to PowerPoint slides and handouts—where you can easily get the main points for a toolbox talk about common holiday hazards. There’s also a poster/handout that has a brief description of the eight most common holiday safety hazards. You can do a little research and add to it or just go with what’s already been done for you. Put the poster up around the facility or give each person at the talk a copy to take with them—it will help them to retain the training points delivered on the most common holiday hazards.

Safe toys and gifts

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, and with good reason. The CPSC reports that over 200,000 children are hurt by toy-related injuries each year. Parents aren’t safe from toy-related injuries either. The packaging on some toys is very hard to get open, which can make adults reach for tools to gain access to the contents. Incorrect use of scissors, a utility knife or any tool that is within reach will inevitably cause injuries when trying to open toy packaging. 

Sharing some toy safety tips in a toolbox talk is good for 24/7 safety. Educating people about the dangers of batteries, burn or shock hazards from adapters or chargers, or toy packaging can go a long way in keeping them safe.  The CPSC has free resources to help with your December toolbox talk. To take your talk a step further and help with impact, why not pair your safety talk with a toy drive to benefit those less fortunate during the holiday season?

Snow removal

When you think of snow shoveling, does your back start to hurt? Those painful memories are something that everyone in your workplace can relate to. And it’s a topic worth a toolbox talk because, according to the first study to comprehensively examine snow shovel-related injuries, there are an estimated 11,500 medical emergencies treated annually due to shoveling snow.

In a previous blog post, we uncovered the link between shoveling snow and workplace back injuries. We also broke down a list of shoveling safety tips that can be used in a toolbox talk in December. These tips include choosing the right equipment, shoveling techniques and increasing awareness about human factors.

Anyone who has shoveled their fair share of snow has probably put a snow blower on their wish list. But snowblowers do not eliminate risk. When conducting a toolbox talk on snow removal, be sure to emphasize the point that back injuries are still possible with snow blowers—not to mention other injuries. It’s important to only operate machinery, like a snowblower, in good lighting. When visibility is reduced by seasonal darkness, fog or falling snow/hail, the risk for injuries is increased. And just because you’re operating the snowblower at home does not mean you should forego your PPE. These are all great points to include in a safety meeting in addition to your standard shoveling tips.

Winter slips, trips and falls

Year after year, safety professionals cite slips, trips and falls (STF) as one of their top problems. Factor in winter weather conditions like ice and snow and you’ve added a new level of risk. A December toolbox talk on how to prevent winter slips, trips and falls could be exactly what you need to cut down on winter-related injuries. Be sure to include these STF prevention tips in your toolbox talk:

  • Do not walk across the parking lot carrying things—having your hands full can affect your balance and also reduce your hands’ ability to act as a safety net if you fall. When arriving at a building, drop your stuff off at the door first, then park and make your way across the parking lot.
  • Once a parking spot is found, it’s important to test your footing before committing your weight upon exiting the vehicle. Use the vehicle for support when exiting if necessary.
  • When taking steps, make sure they’re small and shuffle your feet. It’s also a good idea to slow down. The time it takes to fall and recover takes much longer to reach your destination than if you slowed down your overall pace to begin with. 
  • Focus on the area in which you’re walking. Avoid uneven surfaces and black ice, where possible, and note that elevated surfaces like a ramp or stairs may be more slippery than the ground below.
  • Wear appropriate footwear for winter. It’s advisable to change footwear once you’ve entered the building for a few reasons:
    1. Winter boots are designed to be more slip-resistant, have more traction and make it easier to add ice-grips if desired. Other footwear may create hazards if they have a heel or the tread on the bottom is smooth.
    2. Winter weather can create slippery floor surfaces when footwear is not changed once entering the building. Caked-on snow or ice can leave behind wet spots on the floor when outdoor footwear is worn inside the building. Changing footwear eliminates the safety hazards for not only the person entering the building but any other people that would encounter the wet spot on the floor.
    3. This can also help to develop keystone habits to keep a safety focus going forward.

Spread lots of safety tips and holiday cheer with these great toolbox talk topics for December!

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