I think we all agree 2016 has had its ups and downs: unbelievably, Christmas is almost here. It seems never a day goes by without an article about health and safety ruining Christmas (FYI it’s not). However, we concur as an EHS-conscious company ourselves that Santa Claus does need to take care of the health and safety around him to ensure everyone gets their present come Christmas Day. In-between the logistics of flying around the world delivering presents, we hope he considers the following when planning his deliveries on Christmas Eve:

A chimney is classed as a confined space

OSHA defines a confined space as large enough for an employee to enter and perform assigned work, which in this instance is for Santa to enter a household and deliver lovely presents (as well as gain access to some cookies, milk and alcohol.) By definition, a chimney also has the ability to contain both a hazardous atmosphere, cause entrapment and potentially contain flames. Therefore, every one of the estimated 91.8 million homes Santa visits each Christmas Eve should need a permit for entry. Basically an admin nightmare for a bunch of elves who are most likely overworked already having to make toys for 378 million children. (To see how a digital permit to work form could work for your business, please get in touch.)

Elves need appropriate PPE at all times

Building gifts and being essential cogs in the Christmas machine, the elves need to be protected from the many risks of Santa’s workshop. For example, by wearing aprons and safety glasses and gloves when crafting toys, earplugs when operating (well guarded) machinery, as well as sensible outdoor clothing when tending to the reindeer (it’s very cold at the North Pole!) – let's also hope the elves are not using lead paint…

Risk assessments should be carried out!

Never mind all of the above (and below), the fact that Santa travels 510,000,000km around the world over 31 hours (taking time zones into account) at a speed of 10,700,000km/hour should be sufficient reason enough to carry out thorough risk assessments on all aspects of his working time. This doesn’t include fatigue – Santa would technically be as impaired as someone who was legally drunk after 31 hours non-stop working. How does he manage it?!

Santa’s sleigh (and reindeer) needs to be a health and safety dream

Just look at the picture below – hardly an EHS director’s dream. Even though this one isn’t, Santa’s sleigh should be fitted with both seat belts and an airbag (it doesn't even have doors!) You would also hope that the reindeer were fitted with non-slip PPE on their feet (especially with the risk of working at height and slipping on those slanted house roofs), have headlamps on their antlers (Rudolph’s tiny little red nose is probably not going to have the same effect as a 5,000 watt bulb) and sufficient ear protection, not just from the passing jet planes, but the sonic booms caused from travelling 3,000 times the speed of sound. Phew! Santa has so much he should be taking care of, never mind his own health and safety…

Santa - A lone worker surrounded by hazards

Unless you count the reindeer Santa is very much a lone worker, with risky environments all around (confined spaces, poor access, plus the hazards that might be inside someone’s home.) With the risk of carrying a massive sack of toys around with him (never carry more than 10% of your body weight folks!) the chance of injury with no one to assist is high – hopefully he follows OSHA’s heavy lifting guidelines.

Too much festive cheer can cause festive fear

Children around the world often like to leave a little treat for Santa, be it cookies or a small sherry. Assuming Santa had 25ml of sherry at each delivery, he would be 47 million times over the drink/drive alcohol limits in the UK by the end of his shift. Similarly, if he had a mince pie or cookie at each household, Santa would consume an astonishing 31 BILLION calories! That’s plenty of energy, hopefully to offshoot the fatigue of a 31 hour shift (kids, maybe leave Santa a coffee or Red Bull next time.)

Of course, Santa has managed to do this delivery for many years now with no health and safety incidents (with NORAD watching his every move each Christmas Eve, I guess that helps too.) However, if you feel like the health and safety in your company needs some festive cheer or a makeover for a happy new year, you can find out about Pro-Sapien's enterprise solutions on SharePoint here.

The Pro-Sapien team wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2017 – on that note, check out our 12 Days of EHS Christmas!

Steve has over 4 years experience in marketing and e-commerce and joined Pro-Sapien in 2015. With a particular passion for injecting a bit of fun into EHS, Steve is responsible for content creation (your favorites are probably of his authoring!) and keeping the company up to date on developments within the EHS professional sphere.

Take part in the conversation