Christmas – a risk assessment


The impending seasonal holiday season cannot be allowed as an excuse to relax health and safety vigilance. Here is a summary of a new regulatory assessment.

Father Christmas has clearly pre-planned his Christmas night flight in line with the CDM Regulations, and implemented a method statement that shows how he will accomplish his annual task despite ever-changing multi-site conditions. He makes a list, checks it twice, and his 100% success rate in assessing who is naughty and who is nice is testament to his unrivalled position as the example of best practice in computerised ‘just in time’ delivery.

He has also blazed a trail for modern off-site construction methods, running a state-of-the-art assembly plant in a secret whitefield North Pole location. It is clear that his diminutive workforce is dedicated, and their famous attention to ‘elf and safety’ has passed into the dictionary.

However as any safety consultant can tell you, there is no such thing as a perfectly safe operation, and anyone can benefit from a third-party inspection. It is in that spirit that Inspectors have carried out a survey on Santa Claus plc and the wider Christmas scene: and have identified the following areas that have led to the issuing of an Improvement Notice.

  1. The Father figure was seen to be flying without wearing a safety belt or any other form of primary or secondary protection save for some stomach padding. Working at height is the single greatest cause of accidents.
  2. Interventions were also made to the sites of other key seasonal operations. King Wenceslas was rated ‘Good’, having heated the very sod in which his new worker trod. This was in stark contrast to Santa Claus, who allows his reindeer to operate without personal protective equipment despite sub-zero working conditions.
  3. Another issue was found at a location where holly and ivy were cultivated: despite the risk assessment that the holly “bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn” there was no evidence of segregation of these dangerous shrubs from either the workforce or members of the public.
  4. An inspection was made of a manger where conditions were described as “lowly”. Apparently there had been no room at the local inn, which clearly had failed to optimise its yield management.
  5. An on-site delivery was made by three allegedly Wise Men of gold, frankincense and myrrh, products that do not appear to have been tested and approved for use by small children. This was not the first significant event – seemingly a group of Shepherds had previously been persuaded to leave their flocks-a-feeding in tempest, storm and wind, to make a manger site visit.
  6. A very useful safety aid was dubbed The First Noel – it gave great light both day and night, greatly increasing the productivity of the mobile teams who attended during the season.
  7. There was some concern that in steeple locations, people were operating ‘merrily on high’: but on inspection it was established that no alcohol or other drug consumption at work was involved, which was a relief.

Inspectors happily decided not to impose fees for intervention in any of these cases and to impose a seasonal embargo on legal action: instead their message was ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen’. Stopping only to remind them of the equally merry gentlewomen, we endorse that view and welcome the advent of Christmas safety goodwill.