If you earn your living in the manufacturing, warehousing or retail sector, chances are very good that the last few weeks have been incredibly hectic as the holiday season means orders must be filled, loads must be moved and shelves must be stocked in order to keep up with customer demand.

The unfortunate reality is that things likely won’t start to settle down until well into January. Yet another unfortunate reality — and one that might not be entirely obvious — is that with this prolonged holiday rush comes an increased of serious workplace injuries.

Consider that the increased holiday demand can result in facilities operating at near or full capacity for days or even weeks at a time. This can translate into aisles filled with innumerable obstructions, pallets stocked to near bursting and increased foot traffic in areas with already limited space.

All this, of course, presents the risk of employees tripping, running into (or over) one another, and even being crushed by improperly loaded pallets.

Another work danger comes in the form of slips, trips and falls caused by either wet or frozen surfaces. In fact, the increased staffing over the holidays means a better chance of accidental liquid spills, and outside elements like snow and ice being dragged inside.

Lastly, in many locations, including right here in Pennsylvania, the weather has become a factor, such that employees rushing inside and outside can be repeatedly exposed to colder temperatures, which, of course, elevates the risk of illness, frostbite, dehydration and even hypothermia.

The good news is that workers can take some simple steps to protect themselves over the holidays:

  • Remain on the lookout for obstructions while walking, conduct regular pallet racking inspections and, wherever possible, leave adequate spacing when working in proximity to fellow workers.
  • Be mindful of “wet floor” signs, clean up spills, walk at a reasonable speed, leave the lights on, and demand employers provide slip-resistant footwear and flooring.
  • Dress appropriately for the conditions, stay hydrated and demand winter gear if duties require a significant amount of time spent outside.

Most importantly, however, is for workers who suffer a serious work injury over the holidays — or at any other time of the year — to understand that they do have rights and they do have options.