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Getting Santa into the Safety Spirit: Making Our List and Checking It Twice

With the holidays almost here, we thought we’d have a little fun with a figure many of us are familiar with. In the spirit of health and safety, we’ve teamed up with Santa Claus’ employer (Mrs. Claus) to help jolly ‘ole Saint Nick protect himself from preventable illnesses and injuries in the workshop and around the globe this Christmas. Once we began his needs assessment we quickly realized just how much he needs our help!!

Keep in mind that the testing and assessments Santa is mandated to undergo will vary based on jurisdiction. And with EVERY country on his delivery list, we’d have our work cut out for us in researching the regulations (we’re good, but we’re not THAT good). So we’ve developed a ‘best practice’ program we believe will protect Santa’s health and safety and Mrs. Claus’ bottom line.

Working in a confined space 

If Santa is going to be pushing and wiggling his way down millions of chimneys, his health and safety can’t be jeopardized by the hazards within this confined space. Mrs. Claus has implemented at least one control measure – limiting the number of times he is required to enter chimneys to one day a year. But we must also determine if it is safe for Santa to work in this environment.

A confined space fit for work assessment will evaluate Santa’s mental and physical condition. A phobia, for example, could interfere with his ability to work in such a confined space. His physical condition may also be a factor because he is exposed to extreme temperatures (those fireplaces are hot) and physically demanding work (climbing back up that chimney ain’t easy).  AND there will be coal dust in the air, so keep reading.

Exposure to coal dust

Between the fireplace and the stockings – Santa is exposed to coal on a regular basis. There’s sure to be some dust in the air? It would be prudent for Mrs. Claus to enroll him in a respiratory surveillance program. Our baseline and periodic pulmonary function testing (PFT) would accurately measure his respiratory performance and lung health and help determine his fitness to wear a respirator.  We would track and keep a record of Santa’s PFT results and assist Mrs. Claus in determining the frequency at which he should be re-tested.

With a sizeable beard, it is crucial that Santa undergo a respirator fit test. Facial hair can affect the ability of his respirator to protect him. Mrs. Claus may also want to consider chest x-rays – a valuable diagnostic screening tool for any respiratory disorders or injuries.

Travel immunizations

With Santa scheduled to deliver goods to every country in the world (including remote and exotic locations), he’ll need a travel consult. One of our travel clinics will provide him with a list of required and recommended vaccines to determine which immunizations he will need in advance of his Christmas Eve journey. The rabies vaccine will surely be on the list given his regular contact with wild animals.

Audiometric testing and hearing surveillance

With those sleigh bells ringing loud enough to be heard thousands of feet below, Santa is at a high risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Baseline audiometric testing will provide a starting point and periodic testing will help us track his hearing health over the next few hundred years. We will compare past and current results to establish any trends.

Sleep apnea testing

He may not be driving a vehicle, but effectively handling the reins on that sleigh requires skill and concentration. If Santa is suffering from chronic fatigue, this could put the safe delivery of his goods at risk. He not only works nights – he has a BMI over 40 (we know he eats A LOT of cookies), which means Santa could be at risk of developing sleep apnea. Our questionnaire will determine how high the risk is and whether he will require a sleep apnea study to determine if he indeed is suffering from this disorder. Once a diagnosis is made by one of our sleep specialists, we can start treatment. Sleep apnea is highly treatable!

Periodic medical exams

We don’t really know his birth date (Wikipedia estimates around 270 A.D.) but it is safe to say this living legend is aging. And with the challenges that an aging workforce faces, it is worth asking if one medical exam over 1,744 Christmases is really enough. If medicals are required more frequently for certain commercial drivers, especially as they age, why would Santa be any different? He may not be driving a vehicle, but those reindeer could cause some serious damage. Grandma knows what we’re talking about.

This exam will also need to include an assessment of Santa’s eyesight (our medical includes a vision screen) seeing as he will need to properly steer that sleigh in poor weather conditions.

Physical abilities testing (PAT)

Santa goes to great lengths to deliver goods and services to little girls and boys and this involves physically demanding work. His job is unique (don’t be fooled – there’s only one REAL Santa) and as such, he requires a physical abilities test tailored to his position. We don’t place Santa into a pre-determined set of testing protocols. This customized test will determine if he is capable of performing the essential physical demands of his position and will include grip strength (holding the reins), lifting 100 pounds continuously throughout a 12 hour shift (carrying a giant sac over one shoulder) and awkward position tolerances (climbing in and out of a chimney and sleigh in poor weather conditions).

We hope you enjoyed our list.  Have a safe and happy holiday!!