Santa Claus: Ergonomic Risk Assessment
Santa Claus, aka Criscringle, Father Christmas, Father Frost, Joulupukki, Kris Kringle, Père Noël, Sabdiklos, Saint Nicolas, Sancte Claus, Sinter Klaas, Weinachtsmann
General job description
Santa Claus is employed for only two nights a year. His duties are as follows:
- Delivering presents from the Elves’ factory in the North Pole to all the good children world-wide
- Carrying out work whilst the children are asleep to avoid detection
- Delivering presents in a nine-reindeer flying sleigh
- Gaining access to premises from the roof via chimney
- Payment in the form of tips (generally mince pies and sherry)
Logistics of job
Previous research has shown that:
- Santa visits over 1500 homes per second
- The average speed of his sleigh is of the order of 3.6 million miles an hour.
- The sleigh carries about 156,000 tonnes of cargo.
Risk assessment and general health and safety requirements
It is Santa's responsibility to ensure that the sleigh is of good air worthy condition, carries all necessary documents and complies to all relevant regulations; failure to do so will result in prosecution and a fine, and/or custodial sentence.
As the sleigh passes through International air space all relevant Civil Aviation laws and rules must be adhered to:
- Registration and identification marks must be visible
- Seatbelts must be fitted and worn during take off and landing
- Emergency exits must be clearly marked, and clear of obstructions
- As all large bodies of water are to be overflown, life jackets must be carried
- Port & Starboard designation lights must be fitted. The glowing red nose of Rudolf is not an acceptable warning light for other air space users
- A fire extinguisher and First Aid Kit must be carried
- The Reindeers’ harnesses should be loose fitting so as not to cause chafing, be regularly checked for tear and wear, and replaced as necessary.
As the sleigh has an open cockpit Santa must have suitable clothing to protect him from:
- Extreme cold of Northern Alaska
- Heat of Central Africa & Australia
- Decompression of high altitude flight, generally over large bodies of water
- Good quality shatter proof eye protection must be worn (insect or reindeer excrement strike at 2000 miles per second could impair vision).
- The extreme forces due to acceleration and deceleration. A full climate controlled outfit with integral ‘G’ suit is recommended, available from NASA and other specialist stockists
Landing and taking off
Landing and take-off permission must be sought from the relevant air traffic authority, as well as permission to enter or leave designated air space.
Before landing Santa must sight the proposed area and check it is clear of obstructions, bearing in mind the sleigh takes up the room of 1500 houses. Large mirrors should be fitted to enable the rear of the sleigh to be viewed during parking. Care must be taken to avoid trees, overhead powerlines and chimneys. Chimneys should not be blocked as these must be clear to gain access to the houses. The landing area should be capable of supporting the 156,000 tonne vehicle. Collapse of any of the target houses would be unacceptable as the children would be woken.
Ingress and egress of vehicle
As the sleigh is parked on roof tops, most of which are in areas of temperate climates and have pitched roofs, care must be taken and a good quality working boot should be worn giving good ankle support for the sloped surface.
For areas in the Northern half of the Northern hemisphere where the temperature will invariably be below zero, a good non-slip soled shoe (with possible crampon fitment for snowy conditions) should be worn.
High visibility jacket and hard hat should also be worn.
A support harness must be worn. It must be attached via a retardation device to a secure anchor point.
For fragile roofs, Duck crawling boards must be used.
Handling of presents
Suitable training should be given to enable Santa to lift any heavy presents destined for especially good children. Special care should be taken when stretching to reach presents from the back of the sleigh.
Clambering over the pile of presents should be avoided due to the unstable nature of the footing, this can be achieved by packing the presents in the order required.
All dangerous materials, chemistry sets etc, should be suitably marked, have relevant COSHH sheets attached, and stowed in a flameproof container.
Care should be taken when entering the chimney. The use of ladders is recommended, and also the safety harness. Due to the dark environment, a lamp should be used (miner's type would be preferable to enable hands’ free usage).
Respiration equipment and eye protection must be worn due to the dust, soot and smoke.
All clothing should be manufactured from non-flammable materials, and be heat and flame proof as many of the chimneys will have lit fires below. Footwear should have asbestos or similar heat resistant soles.
Care should be taken to keep the high visibility jacket clean. It is recommended that it is washed or changed regularly.
Setting down of presents
Care should be taken when entering the room. Dogs, security guards and surveillance equipment should be catered for. Attack by dogs can be prevented by the wearing of thick over-garments or even a decoy piece of steak. For surveillance equipment and security guards, Santa's own sleight of hand will have to suffice.
Caution should be taken around Christmas trees which are normally covered in sharp needles and fragile glass baubles. If Santa's clothing is wet due to rain or melted snow there is a definite risk of electrocution with the Christmas lights. A rubber mat should be provided to prevent such a problem.
Manual handling training should be given to show the correct way to set down large presents. Trip hazards should be looked out for, e.g. last year's discarded toys on the floor of children's bedrooms.
With Santa's 31 hour working day, regular breaks should be taken, allowing time to eat drink and take care of calls of nature.
Working with animals, the reindeer should also be given regular breaks for the same reasons. They should be allowed to graze frequently and be given time to stretch their legs. Santa should be trained in the flying reindeers’ special needs; little or nothing is known of this and research should be undertaken to discover their anatomical needs.
All safety equipment should be checked and/or replaced each year to ensure optimum performance.
In charge of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol
Due to the means of payment this is especially important. It is recommended that a separate designated driver is employed. Due to the covert nature of these operations, one of Santa's own elves would be a suitable candidate.
Health and Safety
Our Clients Say
By prioritising the risk we could target high risk areas and make improvements.
Monima Harrison, Health and Safety Manager, Land Securities