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The holiday season is here, and along with the weather, decorations, shopping, and cele- brations comes a heightened concern for safety. All the activities, partying, driving, and stress associated with the holiday season can increase the risk of workplace accidents. Safety during the Holidays With all the holiday activities, some workers might be distracted on the job with thoughts about holiday plans, and that could lead to carelessness and accidents. Others might not be getting as much sleep as usual, considering all of the parties, shopping, and other after- work holiday events. This means employees might come to work overly fatigued which could result in impaired judgement. Safe driving should be considered a high priority during the holiday season. Three critical skills for safe driving are judgment, vision and reflexes. Alcohol and drugs impair all three. Other important considerations include; slowing down during inclement weather, proper trip planning, use of safety devices such as seat belts, avoiding distractions including using cell phones and texting. Also, exercise caution when walking on or near streets and road- ways or when walking through parking lots. Fires are another special problem this time of year because of decorations, candles, and other potential fire hazards. According to the National Safety Council, the incidence of candle fires is highest in December. Don’t let your office safety guard down when the dec- orations go up. Consider these precautionary tips:  Make sure all decorations are clear of sources of heat or flame. Also, never let deco- rations interfere with the operating ability of the fire alarm or suppression equipment.  Consider using only “Fire Resistant” artificial trees. If using natural Christmas trees keep them moist—dry needles can catch fire.  Never overload electrical outlets and only use undamaged, UL-approved lights and extension cords outdoors if they are waterproof and are rated for outdoor use. They should also be connected to a grounded outlet (GFCI) with a built in fuse.  Never run extension cords under rugs or staple them to the wall or floor—you could damage the insulation, expose the wires, start a fire or create a shock hazard.  When hanging lights don’t use anything that could pierce the cords.  Always inspect ladders before every use, and never use defective ladders. You should always face the ladder when going up or down, and avoid turning or twisting on the ladder. Use a three-point of contact at all times.  Avoid lighted candles. If you do use them, place them on a sturdy, fire resistant sur- face, away from combustible materials. Never leave lit candles unattended.  Turn off all holiday lights and decorations at the end of the work day.  Don’t use a fireplace without a metal screen or glass doors in place. Never burn wrap- ping paper in a fireplace or leave paper materials near heat sources.  Check smoke detectors for proper operation and replace batteries if necessary.  Keep all multipurpose (ABC) type fire extinguishers charged, mounted and in easy reach. Make sure all employees know where extinguishers are and how to use them.  Do not obstruct or conceal fire extinguishers, emergency exit signs or exits.
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