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Avoid the naughty list and follow Christmas tree safety

Loading a christmas tree into a car

Christmas tree sales are peaking right now, and there are some things you need to keep in mind when it comes to protecting your workers, business, and customers.

Homegrown operation

If you grow trees and have a cut-your-own area, provide only manual bow-type saws for customer use. Also, supervise the cutting. Trees can be heavy, and if they fall the wrong way with children present, a lawsuit could be the result. Having the customer choose a tree—and having your workers cut the tree—is the preferable option.

Christmas tree retailer

For Christmas tree retailers, there are other factors to take into consideration—from displaying the trees to advertising. Here are some tips to think about:

  • Display trees in a safe manner: Trees will be moved around, so have employees available to help move them and check the stands for stability.
  • Make no assertions: Don’t make claims as to safety, freshness, or how long the trees will stay fresh. Share industry standards for care and water—but not the personal opinions of employees or others.
  • Think about safety: When packing trees for transport, take safety into account for all aspects of the journey.

If you have employees load trees onto customer vehicles, don’t allow the customers to help. Their help can create liability arguments against you—they may blame your employee for getting poked in the eye or straining their shoulder or back.

Preferably, have customers load their own trees, but clearly instruct them how to do it—stump facing toward the front—and provide materials. Also have disclaimers regarding any damages done from the self-loading process and include it on your sales receipt in clear language.

It’s possible you’ll hear complaints about a product you sold. Some might include:

  • Scratched paint: If trees aren’t properly handled, scratches on vehicles can occur.
  • Loose load: A tree isn’t secured well enough and falls off the car.
  • Inconvenient branches: Customers might look for a scapegoat if branches fly out when the netting or string is cut.
  • Drip issues: Regardless of warning or prevention, sap can drip on a wood floor or carpet.
  • Falling needles: No one wants too many needles falling off when they set up the tree.

Regardless of where you are in the chain of Christmas tree commerce, protect yourself with vendor agreements and additional insured endorsements. Although Christmas trees seem innocent enough, these are some of the things to take into account to protect yourself from liability risks. If you have any questions, want to look at additional coverage, or see what your current policy covers, talk with your Hortica representative.

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Learn more about protecting your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.

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