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Holiday decorations are a surefire way to boost a community’s holiday spirit. The bright colors and lights of the holiday decorations make the 4:00 p.m. sunset a little easier to handle.  When I’m decorating, my training kicks in and I think about safety as I pull out my step ladder.  What comes to my mind before I use the step ladder?  The ladder should be set on stable ground, it should only be used in the open position, and to never stand on the top or top step of the step ladder.  These tips are also helpful if your employer has asked you to decorate your workplace.

While out running around, whether it is to go shopping, commuting to or from work, or visiting friends and family, have you ever thought about how all of these holiday decorations got into place?  A lot of the decorations you see around town and in malls are hung in locations that the worker might not be able to reach, even if they were using the tallest ladder.  So how did those lights get all the way to the top of that large tree on the common?

installation-of-holiday-lightsThere is a good chance that those outdoor lights, signs and motifs around town were hung using an aerial lift.  Your first thought might be that aerial lifts might be safer to use than ladders, right?  But without the proper training first, the worker using these tools and equipment might very easily be injured and these injuries can be severe.  In addition, employers must also make sure that the appropriate safety equipment is provided to their employees.  Workers in the aerial lift should be wearing fall protection provided to them by the employer.

I’m sure we all want the people who are decorating the cities and towns where we live, work, and play in to be able to go home safely and enjoy the holidays with their families.  So as we celebrate the holidays this season and are enjoying the decorations, let’s keep these workers safe so they can do just that.  When driving, give workers along roadways the space they need. If your loved ones are using aerial lifts, remind them about wearing fall protection.  Oh and remember that in the New Year, these same workers will once again be on their precarious perches taking down the decorations.

Written By:


Occupational Fatality Projects Coordinator, Occupational Health Surveillance Program

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