We wish you a merry Christmas!

Ergonomics

We’re here to spread some Christmas cheer! We take a tongue-in-cheek look at how everyone, and some familiar faces, could be better protected at Christmas, ‘elf and safety’ style.

(alt=

We think we can all agree that it’s reasonably foreseeable for the external environment to present some hazards in the winter months. It’s been a bit nippy lately, so we hope you’re managing thermal risks by wrapping up in a warm coat, woolly hat, and scarf before braving the elements to celebrate.

 

We fully advocate taking regular breaks inside for some warm mulled wine or to eat mince pies, cake, and chocolate (we read on the internet that your body generates heat when digesting food, so that’s our excuse).

Little donkey

(alt= a donkey wearing a red and white Christmas hatLittle donkey, little donkey on the dusty road,
Got to keep on plodding onwards, with your precious load.

Just how heavy is the load that the little donkey is expected to carry? A risk assessment should be carried out to take account of the task, individual, load and environment, and steps taken to reduce or control the risks. Dust can present respiratory risks, so we’d recommend Mary, Joseph and the donkey are provided with dust masks compliant with BS EN 149. The journey sounds long so regular feeding and rest breaks should be implemented.

While shepherds watched

(alt=”CCTV security system”)While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The Angel of the Lord came down,
And Glory shone around.

Working alone, outside in all weathers, in the dark, with no chair or stool to sit on? Shepherds should be provided with CCTV to watch their flocks from.

A heated observation hut will help reduce thermal hazards and providing fully-adjustable ergonomic chairs will help the shepherds maintain good posture and help prevent back pain. Shepherds working nights should be offered a health assessment too.

UVA and UVB rays from the Angel’s shining glory might present a risk factor for cataracts. All shepherds should be issued with safety glasses capable of filtering out any harmful effects of UVA/UVB rays.

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

(alt=”Christmas lights; a deer and Rudolph”)Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose,
And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows,
All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names,
They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

Under The Equality Act it is inappropriate for people to make comment upon the ruddiness of Rudolph’s nose. Name-calling is a form of bullying, and the exclusion of Rudolph from any reindeer games based on his appearance is discriminatory. Disciplinary action should be taken against anyone discriminating against Rudolph and equality and diversity training should be delivered as a priority.

We three Kings

(alt=”Person checking a map on a mobile phone in a forest settingWe three Kings of Orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

Gift giving at Christmas is appropriate as long as preferential treatment isn’t received in return. The gift of gold is generally acceptable, but Frankincense and Myrrh should be avoided due to the risk of oils and fragrances causing allergic reactions.

We’d recommend that a more reliable navigation tool is used, rather than simply relying on a star. Tools such as Google Maps or Citymapper are readily available.

Looks like the kings would have to tackle an array of terrain so sensible, ankle supporting footwear should be worn. As with the little donkey, the three camels and kings require regular rest and food breaks and dust masks due to the likelihood of desert dust being disturbed by the camel’s hooves.

Jingle bells

(alt=Dashing through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh,
Over fields we go – laughing all the way.

Dashing through snow isn’t advisable, snow can create treacherous conditions and lead to accidents. An assessment should be made to determine the suitability of an open sleigh for people to ride, some form of fall protection might be needed, as well as seatbelts.

At the beginning of each trip, passengers should be advised that ‘moderate’ laughter is only allowed to avoid being a nuisance to others and to preserve hearing, and passengers should be advised to keep their arms inside the sleigh.

If only one horse continues to be used, we suggest that passenger numbers are limited so the horse’s capabilities are not exceeded. Consideration should be given as to whether the use of animals is appropriate for the public’s pleasure.

The twelve days of Christmas

(alt=On the first day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me,
A partridge in a pear tree.

Google tells me the average partridge probably weighs about 500g, but a pear tree? That’s going to have some weight to it. Delivering such a tree will involve manual handling of a load that we’d consider dynamic, or likely to move about. If the handling risk cannot be eliminated or outsourced, perhaps by using a courier, a handling aid should be provided to the true love. Bird droppings can present a health hazard; we recommend that good basic hygiene controls are implemented after handling the partridge, and any droppings are wetted down to reduce dust spread before clearing them up.

Mistletoe and wine

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine
Children singing Christian rhyme.

Mistletoe and wine? Didn’t Cliff Richard know mistletoe is poisonous? Consumption of the plant can cause a range of side effects including blurred vision, hallucinations, diarrhoea, fever, stomach pain and drowsiness. We recommend that mistletoe is kept high up out of reach (and know who you’re kissing under it!).

Deck the halls

(alt=

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la,
‘Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

Holly? The plant with the prickly leaves? Goodness me. Gloves should be worn to provide protection from prickly leaves and care should be taken to ensure berries are not eaten, they can be toxic in large quantities. Tools to cut and shape the holly should be suitably selected and used according to manufacturer’s instructions.

And how exactly will the halls be ‘decked’? Suitable equipment to reach areas at height should be provided, such as ladders, and people should be trained in their correct use, including pre-use inspections, using ladders on firm, even ground, and footed by another person. Large halls to deck might mean that work at height is not of short duration so ladders might not be suitable, and another means of access will be needed.

Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder
Can we fix it?
Bob the Builder
Yes we can.

Bob may be a builder by trade (he was also Christmas number 1 in 2000, which is why he makes our list), but even trained people can make mistakes if they’ve had too many tipples. Anyone working over the Christmas period should avoid alcohol.

Bob should also remember the basics like having enough batteries for toys bought as presents (don’t take them out of smoke or carbon monoxide detectors) and having scissors available to cut open packaging, he shouldn’t rely on his Stanley knife or saw that he uses for work.

Bob is a builder, not an electrician as far as we know, so he shouldn’t repair fairy lights, but buy new ones from a reputable supplier.

The herald angels

(alt=Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King,
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!

Sigh, COVID. Singing produces respiratory secretions and aerosols. If the herald angels can’t celebrate the new-born king’s birth without singing, we suggest that singing takes place in a large, well ventilated space or outdoors. In addition to the herald angels, a limited number of people should only be present; Jesus, Mary, and Joseph for these celebrations. Singing should only be for a limited period of time and everyone should be well spaced out. Face coverings can help reduce respiratory secretion and aerosol spread and the use of microphones can help reduce the need to raise singing voices. Attendees may well wish to take a lateral flow test before taking part in any sort of gathering.

From all of us at System Concepts, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy, and safe 2022!

Festive image with the words -

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