During this challenging year that has seen COVID-19 rise to the top of everyone’s agenda, it is important not to forget about ‘non-COVID’ H&S. 

The HSE defines work at height as ‘work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury’. So even standing on a chair to put up and take down a decoration counts.

Working at height should always be avoided, but when there’s no other way to get the job done, it should be properly planned and organised. 

Southalls have investigated countless accidents within schools in relation to putting up and taking down Christmas decorations. These falls have resulted in injuries from sprains to dislocated shoulders. The causes have included staff falling off desks because they caught the edge of the table while stretching to secure a decoration and employees falling off chairs either because they were the revolving type or because the chair toppled when the individual balanced on the chair back. 

If you are putting decorations up and indeed taking these down, you must ensure you are using suitable equipment such as a secure step ladder. Please do not assume that you will never fall from height and take the time to ensure you are using the correct equipment. Also, ensure that when wearing a face covering your vision is not obscured. 

Remember taking the decorations down in January safely is just as important as putting them up. Southalls have seen just as many falls from height accidents after the festive break as before.

Finally when considering where to put your decorations please ensure you are not blocking fire exit routes with them.

To help you plot the way forward, Southalls lead education sector H&S consultants can help you outline critical considerations when designing your school’s coronavirus response strategy. You’ll also access a range of support services to assist you in implementing the right measures for your setting, in line with changing HSE and government guidelines. Find out more now.