Before your staff hangs the paper turkeys and holiday streamers, make sure their fire safety training is up to speed.
As the holiday season approaches, ‘tis the season for making sure all employees are aware of safety guidelines for holiday decorations and why they can pose hazards to staff, residents and visitors.
Holiday decorations are often flammable, so where and how they are affixed are vital to making sure the holiday doesn’t go up in flames. Create a list of guidelines for hanging decorations, what types of decorations are permitted and where they are forbidden. Healthcare Compliance Solutions offers a solid list of decoration tips, including guidelines for extensions cords and which types of light strings to avoid.
Decorations also can create tripping hazards, exit obstructions and worker compensation claims. Long-term and post-acute care providers have extra rules to comply with, including the Life Safety Code, local fire prevention authorities and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Document: Make sure you have policies in writing for how, when and where holiday decorations can be used.
Update policies: Make sure company fire policies and evacuation procedures are up to date. HR teams must train staff in the protocols of safety for themselves and for the residents they serve.
Train and practice: Ensure that all new staff have been properly trained in fire evacuation procedures and have rehearsed them in mock drills. The National Fire Protection Association says employees will retain a safety procedure much better if they have physically practiced it, rather than just reading about it in a policy manual. “Every facility should have written fire procedures that are understood and practiced by all staff,” notes the National Fire Protection Association. “Staff should be responsible for knowing and carrying out their part of the plan.”
Remind: Circulate fresh reminders to staff and families about company policies regarding holiday decorations in offices, staff rooms, hallways and public spaces.
Monitor: Recruit the activities director, certified nursing aides and the family liaison in the polite monitoring of resident rooms for decorative items that could be dangerous. Families and friends often bring things into the building as gifts (candles, for example) without realizing the policies or risks.
HR director doesn’t need to be a Grinch to ensure a safe and happy holiday season. But having clear policies in place and providing regular training for staff can ensure everyone has a jolly holiday.