Workplace Christmas Party? Health and Safety Considerations

With the end of the year approaching, it is also time for many businesses to plan their Christmas parties to acknowledge and reward the hard work from staff for an undoubtedly challenging year.

Your staff has worked hard and persisted with a year of ups and downs, and you’d like to say thanks by hosting a party. It’s time to celebrate with your staff, have some fun, and ‘let the hair down’ before the new year. However, the work Christmas Party is also considered as part of the work environment. Therefore it is your responsibility to provide a safe environment and manage the risks involved.

Here are some workplace health and safety considerations when planning your party:

Event Details & Travelling
Will your staff be travelling to and from the event? Does your worker’s compensation cover employee travel and journeys? Be specific of the event details and ensure that your staff are fully notified, including the start and end times that are clearly defined, and that your liability should end with the finishing time (not arranging for drinks ‘after part’ or partying elsewhere).

Food & Alcohol
A party won’t be a party without food and drinks! It goes without saying that alcohol consumption is a key health and safety issue. Offer non-alcoholic alternatives, especially if there are designated drivers and limit the strength or number of drinks available within a certain time. Provide catering such as finger food to help slow down alcohol intake.

Risk Assessment
Where will your event be held, and what measures have you taken to inspect the site? It is important to identify and document potential health and safety hazards, as well as your plan to prevent or control risks and hazards. Consider the possibility of wet floors, decorations, loose wires and other items that may pose risks. Appoint a first-aid officer to monitor controls and handle emergency incidents.

Expectations & Conduct
While it’s time to party, don’t forget to remind your staff prior to the event your company policies, code of conduct, expected behaviour and what disciplinary consequences there may be for such breaches. Consider possible issues such as alcoholic influence, language use, harassment, social media posting of the event and provide guidelines if needed.

Employers in the past have been held liable under WHS legislation and workers compensation legislation for incidents at work Christmas parties. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you! However, with a well-prepared event, you can enjoy yourself knowing that measures are in place for your employees’ health and safety.

Need a hand to plan your event? A1 Safety Matters can help! Our Director has over 20 years of experience in Safety and 10 years of experience in Human Resource Management, with a dedicated team that can assist you with the compliance of your Christmas party or function. Get in touch and speak with us to get started.

Finally, celebrate the year with your deserving staff and have a great time!