Tribe Culture Change | Deck the halls with boughs of holly (but mind that old stepladder!)
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17 Dec Deck the halls with boughs of holly (but mind that old stepladder!)

In case you haven’t noticed it’s Christmas soon and if you’re anything like as busy as I am you’re way behind in getting stuff ready for it. I’ve usually put the decorations up the banister and round the arches of door frames by now, it’s always been very Kirsty Allsop in our house long before she came on the scene.

But this year I’ve barely wiped the sticky black finger marks off the white paint work, let alone got my rickety old step ladder out to actually put them up. Now how on earth does someone involved in safety like I profess to be, have such an unsafe piece of equipment in the house?

Well I don’t use them for much else; December putting it all up and January taking it all down. And what do I say every December? “We really must change this rickety old stepladder” But what do we do? Nothing. And what makes this worse is that I’m married to a safety manager so it’s doubly troubling to find we can both succumb to such apathetic ‘just this once’ decision-making that we all fall for.

Woman in high-heels on a step ladder

I don’t have time to think about it or go and buy something else (I guess standing on a chair is only marginally safer?) I did consciously decide not to go up them the other day when I was on my own, assessing the possible risk of not being able to get help if I did fall off them. So I haven’t lost all my safety completely in the Christmas take over we all go through when we hear Noddy Holder on the radio.

So what other potential dangers lurk in the Christmas run up?


Oh yes without a doubt. I have more scars on my hands and arms from poor use of an inappropriate tea towel instead of a proper oven glove than I ever had from years working with horses. Pinching my fingers in the bolts on the stable doors was the worst minor hand injury I got in those days. They were never reported of course, blood blisters and broken finger nails were seen as a badge of honour. I have broken many of my bones too, but nothing compares to finger and toe injury for pain.

So back to the cooking, why do I not use an oven glove I hear you cry? Well that’s an age old excuse you must hear all the time from those guys who never have the eye protection on. They’re never to hand when needed so we grab the nearest thing: in my case a tea towel.

Why not to hand? Poorly arranged kitchen that’s why. Oven gloves look nice on a hook beside the cooker hood so if I haven’t thought about it before I open the oven door I’m at completely the wrong angle to get the gloves off the hook and I reach for the tea towel which hangs next to the oven. So why worse at Christmas? Well more cooking and baking means use of the oven goes up considerably so more exposure to the hazard.

Of course I have children round me ‘helping’ which was chaotic and not very safe when they were little, and now they’re bigger they just argue over the mince pies and scoff the lot when still at mouth-burning temperatures. So more baking is more hazard exposure and that’s before we even get to the turkey!

People take risks when under pressure

Christmas is a stressful time for everyone, both at work and home. Because there’s pressure to get things done a week earlier in the month to be ready for compulsory leave and that perfect few days with family.

When under pressure we take shortcuts to get things done more quickly and we make poorer choices in how we act, even before we have a drink or two. So be a bit more careful and not just in the ice and be mindful of the potential for unsafe actions that may not be normal in yourself and others.

Take time to encourage others to stay safe at work and home, with some festive themed briefs that remind us all how easily that next accident could ruin this Christmas and many more to come if you’re really unlucky.

Merry christmas everyone and thanks for your comments on my posts this year, please keep them coming in the new year.

Lizz Fields-Pattinson
Lizz Fields-Pattinson