Your work Christmas party can be a great way to unwind at the end of a long year.  It is also a great way to thank employees for their hard work. Because this is considered a work event, Workplace Health and Safety Laws are still applicable so you need to ensure you implement appropriate controls. A lot of planning goes into an event; however, don’t forget to plan for your Christmas Party Safety also!

Responsibilities:

Your main responsibility is the same as always, you have a duty of care to ensure employees return home safely without harm. To ensure this, simple measures can be implemented as follows.

Hazard and Risk Management:

The standard Hazard and Risk Management approach should be used in preparation for the event.  This includes following the process of:

  • Identification
  • Assessment
  • Control
  • Review.

The first step – Identification, involves identifying all the ways harm could occur at the event (hazards).  This includes (but not limited to):

  • Consumption of too much alcohol
  • Getting to and from the event
  • Activities at the event
  • Food – not drinking on an empty stomach, allergy risks.
  • The behaviour of employees including silly and/or inappropriate behaviour

Risks arising from the above hazards:

  • Injury
  • Legal risks including lawsuits and Workcover claims
  • Risk of damage to reputation.
  • Financial risk.

Controls:

The venue:

  • Ensure the location is appropriate
  • Ensure the venue or activity is physically safe, if possible, undertake a site inspection prior to the event.
  • Ensure planned activities are safe.
  • Ensure there is a Responsible Service of Alcohol Process in place – either by the venue or if a self-hosted event, delegate someone the responsibility to supervise and ensure attendees are cut off where necessary.
  • Crowd control for unwanted guests should be implemented where relevant.
  • Ensure activities are suitable for children/families if the event is for employee families.

Alcohol Management

Drinking too much creates a significant risk to employees, other members of the public and your business. It is essential to address the risks of serving alcohol at a work event and ensure there is a plan for Responsible Service.  The plan can include some of the following:

  • Ensure there is food and non-alcoholic drinks available
  • restricting the amount of alcohol served
  • keeping to a set period for the event
  • considering how employees will get home safely
  • considering fitness for work the next day if any employees need to work.

Supervision

Ensure that there is managerial supervision of the function.

Responsible behaviour

  • You should have developed and communicated a responsible consumption of alcohol policy, and trained your workers in it (yes, we can help with this!). This should be part of your onboarding/induction process and refreshed prior to any event. If you don’t have one, it’s a great time to start!  
  • Have a team meeting to review the following:
  • Don’t party too hard and overindulge.
  • Don’t hit on or otherwise inappropriately approach other employees.
  • Dress appropriately
  • Behaviour requirements.

End of Event

  • Ensure there is a suitable plan in place including the following:  
  • Event Finish time – ensure this is communicated to staff.
  • Service of alcohol must cease when the event does.
  • Transport requirements – develop a plan for employees to get home including taxi vouchers, rideshare etc. 

After the event

  • Review the event, any incidents that occur and consult with workers about the event.  This is time to learn what worked, what didn’t, how can things be improved if they didn’t work.
  • Encourage colleagues with complaints to report them.  Never ignore complaints!! AS A MANAGER YOU HAVE A LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY TO DO SOMETHING.
  • If a complaint is made, it must go through a formal investigation procedure.
  • Ensure every complaint is kept Confidential.

Workplace Safety

  • Keep Christmas decorations at head height, keep your feet on the ground.  If you MUST put them higher – use a step ladder safely, do not use a chair or similar.
  • If you are doing a Secret Santa, think about appropriate types of gifts – set guidelines about appropriate gifts.
  • Alcohol in the workplace should be served and consumed in accordance with the policy mentioned above.
  • If you are hiring casuals and other seasonal staff, ensure they are inducted and supervised.
  • Be aware of fellow workers because Christmas time can be very depressing for a variety of reasons.
  • The lead up to Christmas or Christmas parties can be distracting – remind employees to keep their mind on the task when working, rather than thinking about financial difficulties etc.  

Need help developing your Procedures or more info on Christmas Party Safety? Get in touch with us for an obligation-free chat.

Originally written for Tradiewives – check them out here: https://www.tradiewives.com.au/

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