Don’t let the Christmas rush ruin your Health & Safety

As a retailer, you have a duty to protect colleagues, volunteers, contractors and members of the public from harm when visiting your premises, by eliminating or controlling risks to a minimum. According to the HSE, the retail industry employs around 3 million people in the UK, so it is vital that all colleagues are comfortable and safe in their workplace.

Businesses see a particular flurry of customers this time of year and with the added stresses, it can be tempting to skip past safe procedures in order to save time and increase productivity. But preparation is key.

Shield Safety’s checklist to a happy Christmas…

Fire Safety

If you’re putting up lighting decorations at work, all electrical systems and equipment must comply to The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. This means that Christmas lights should have the British Safety Standard sign.

In light of this, don’t overload plug sockets because this adds huge strain onto electrical systems and keep decorations away from lights and heaters.

Be sure to conduct regular fire safety drills and fire walks to enable maximum awareness of fire procedures, including pinpointing the nearest exists and alarm points.

Agency/Temp staff training

A quick staffing fix, but don’t forget that temporary staff need to be given adequate training and information regarding Health & Safety and Fire Safety.

Safe work at height

Take extra care when putting up equipment and decorations. If reaching above height, ensure regular checks are conducted on ladders, and more importantly, never stand on tables or chairs to reach items high up.


As mentioned in our blog What to expect when the Fire Officer calls don’t join the majority in storing combustibles in unsafe areas. Additional stock needs a temporary home over the busy period – exits and walkways must be kept clear from obstruction.

Manual handling

Retail jobs usually require large amounts of repetitive motions, heavy lighting and other hazards that can result in injury. With this in mind, emphasise safe manual handling practices to colleagues, with added training and on the job supervision to reduce twisting and bending.

Use hand trucks, trolleys or lifts to handle heavy objects, but of course, don’t forget to conduct a Risk Assessment and training before their use.

Slips and trips

This is the single largest cause of accidents in the workplace and can usually be controlled by keeping premises clean and clear. Christmas tends to come with a shed load of rain and snow, so be prepared for extra wetness and slippery floors. Place warning signs where appropriate and clear all spills promptly.

Crowd control

Increased customers cause particular concern for licensed premises – which can lead to aggression. Restricting customer numbers can help reduce violence.

To clear things up so you can separate fact from fiction, the HSE have assembled the 12 Myths of Christmas…

1. Workers are banned from putting up Christmas decorations in the office[1]

2. Indoor Christmas lights need a portable appliance test (PAT) every year[2]

3. You can’t throw out sweets at pantos[3]

4. Santa needs a seatbelt in his sleigh[4]

5. Second-hand toys can’t be donated for ‘health and safety’ reasons[5]

6. Traditional shopping centre Christmas trees scaled back or replaced by artificial alternatives[6]

7. Seats removed from shops – despite weary Christmas shoppers wanting to rest their feet[7]

8. Carol singers are a health and safety risk[8]

9. Children are banned from throwing snowballs[9]

10. If you clear snow from outside your business or home you are likely to get sued[10]

11. Health and safety prevents people putting coins in Christmas puddings[11]

12. Elf n Safety ruins Christmas

You can read up on more Health & Safety myths in our blog Mortarboard ban: Shorting fact from fiction.

If you’d like to find out more how Shield Safety Group can help you achieve full compliance whilst also saving you considerable amounts of time, money and hassle, call the team today on 020 3740 3744 or visit

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email

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