festive season increases risk of workplace accidents and incidents.

Workplaces across Australia traditionally enjoy end of year celebrations throughout December, and while the office Christmas party is supposed to be a fun occasion, it also presents a number of risks associated with mixing alcohol and office antics.

WorkSafe bodies in both Victoria and Queensland have noted that this time of year can lead to an increase in the number of workplace related injuries and incidents. According to WorkSafe Victoria, one in four workplace fatalities over the past decade occurred in the lead up to Christmas, making it a dangerous time of year for Aussie workers. *

End of year fatigue, alongside rushing tasks to go on holidays and increased alcohol consumption at this time of year can all increase the risk of workplace related accidents and incidents. 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. 

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. 

Randstad’s advice is to undertake a risk assessment ahead of planning workplace events and to set out guidelines of appropriate behaviour ahead of the event. Employees need 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. 

Damian Dean, Director of WHS and risk management at Randstad, says, “Employers have a duty so far as reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of employees. 

“Should an incident occur at the end of year function, the circumstances would need to be assessed as to whether any resulting injury (physical or psychological) is compensable. The best protection is to clearly articulate behavioural standards and ensure the responsible service of alcohol.”    

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. 

Trust that your people will accept this communication in the right spirit and that your business is committed to meeting your moral and legal obligations by ensuring the safety of all staff. A message such as this to employees should not prevent everyone from having a safe and happy end of year, Christmas celebration.

For further advice around your workplace health and safety responsibilities, including templates for the creation of custom mental health and health and safety policies, and a framework for identifying and overcoming risks in the workplace, request your copy of The Randstad Human Resource Guide.

The Human Resource Guide also provides guidance on how best to deal with staff disputes, disciplinary actions or the termination of employees, including how to ethically and legally handle redundancies.

And you will find insights into retention strategies that work including effective induction, step-by-step guides that cover everything from creating a retention strategy, to designing and actioning a successful succession plan.

* Reference: http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/about-vwa/campaigns
* Reference: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/retail/articles/what-can-you-do-to-keep-your-workers-safe-during-the-festive-season

About The Randstad Human Resource Guide
Designed with the daily needs and challenges of HR professionals and business managers in mind, the Randstad Human Resources Guide is an all-encompassing, online guide to best practice HR. Updated quarterly, The HR Guide includes forms, policies, templates, checklists and step-by-step guides that businesses can adapt to suit their own HR requirements. We’ve drilled down to deliver practical solutions to the questions most commonly raised by HR professionals and business leaders. Visit www.humanresourceguide.randstad.com.au

About Randstad 
Randstad is one of the world’s leading recruitment & HR services specialists, passionate about matching people with organisations that will develop their potential and matching organisations with people that will take their business to the next level. The Randstad Group employs over 560,000 people every day with the aim of 'shaping the world of work'. For further information visit www.randstad.com.au.
 
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