How to avoid a work Christmas party accident

THERE'S a good chance your workplace is going to have some sort of Christmas function during December, and while it's supposed to be a lot of fun, it can also present an opportunity for workplace accidents.

WorkSafe Queensland says the increase in social activities like work Christmas parties can leave workers feeling tired and distracted at work, making it a potentially dangerous time for workers.

End of year fatigue, the rush to get things done before leaving for holidays and increased alcohol consumption all increase the risk of a workplace accident, according to human resource and recruitment specialists Randstad.

Excessive alcohol intake at work events not only increases the risk to employees of potential accidents, but also inappropriate behaviour that can prove a headache once the hangover sets in. 

"The end of year celebration is an opportunity to let off some steam, and while this should be encouraged to a certain extent, unfortunately it often doesn't take much for things to get out of hand," warned Frank Ribuot, CEO of Randstad Australia & New Zealand.

"Everyone loosens up after a few drinks and this can lead to all sorts of risky behaviour, from falling down stairs, to telling your boss what you really think of them, to engaging in gossip that divulges confidential company information."

He advises organisations to undertake a risk assessment ahead of planning workplace events and to set out guidelines of appropriate behaviour ahead of the event. He also reminds employees to be mindful that while the Christmas party is a social event, you are still mixing in a professional setting.

"While you don't want to take the fun out of these occasions, risk management is not an easy process and there are legitimate concerns surrounding events such as Christmas parties, which require research and planning," he explained.

Randstad's WHS & Risk Management recommends the following for all end of year workplace celebrations:

  1. Staff behaviour: communicate the expected code of conduct; remind staff of your organisation's official policies on code of conduct and harassment and grievance procedures
  2. Alcohol and drugs: ensure your business has a Drug and Alcohol policy which clearly sets out expectations and consequences. Remind staff to drink responsibly and to be respectful to others.
  3. Logistics: remind everyone not to drink if they are driving, to carpool with friends and to make their own arrangements to travel home safely.
  4. Contacts: ensure staff are aware of the procedure should they need help during or after the event. Provide key contacts in case of emergency.
  5. Venue: ensure the venue for the function has been risk assessed to identify any issues prior, these should be addressed and where possible mitigated to ensure safety.

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