Whilst Health and Safety is "not just for Christmas" and measures should be taken during the year to ensure the health, safety and welfare of your employees, as the festive season approaches it is important that you and your workers are fully prepared to deal with any additional risks that may arise.

It is also a good time to review your existing policies and procedures to ensure that they are up-to-date and have been properly communicated to staff and that you have staff with the appropriate experience to carry out the tasks in hand safely.

Since the introduction of the Sentencing Guidelines for Health and Safety, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Hygiene Offences the implications of not having appropriately trained staff, adequate policies and safe systems of work in place are now more significant for many Organisations.

In September 2016 a company was fined £1m following the death of an employee who was working alone.

The company had not ensured that workers were sufficiently trained or had the necessary experience to carry out the task, additionally the work was not properly planned or risk assessed.

Lone working is in many cases part and parcel of the job. Over the Christmas period many Organisations scale back their resource to enable employees to take leave. However the fact that someone is working alone or with less support brings with it inherent additional potential risks. Employers will need to have regard to those risks, for example less supervision, and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary.

We set out below some top tips for lone working over the festive period:

  • Keep assessing the risks as you would for those not working alone - lone workers should not be put at more risk than other employees;

  • Appropriate training, monitoring and, where appropriate, additional security measures such as controlled entry systems or alarms should be considered;

  • Take into consideration adverse weather conditions and remain updated about any potential weather warnings;

  • Make sure you keep in touch with your employees - you are likely to have fewer staff working than usual over the Christmas period but there will still be employees at work so make sure you communicate with staff and share information and relevant points of contact.

Above all we wish you a safe and Merry Christmas!