HM Insights

The risks of being Santa Claus

Despite being employed for only one night a year, being Santa Claus is a risky business – let’s face it, he is in charge of a magical flying vehicle, nine flying reindeer as well as millions of heavy goods that all have to be delivered in a tight deadline.

Santa Claus Risk Assessment Insurance Personal Injury

We hate to be a buzzkill but we hope he’s done his risk assessment this year. Here’s what we’re thinking Santa Claus has to be aware of this Christmas:

What are Santa’s main duties this Christmas Eve:

  1. Delivering presents from the North Pole to millions of children worldwide
  2. Delivering presents in a nine reindeer flying sleigh
  3. Gaining access to residences via the chimney on a roof
  4. Taking payment in the form of mince pies, milk and a glass of sherry
  5. Responsibility for nine reindeers and hundreds of elves

Santa’s Sleigh

Santa has 2.1 billion children to visit in only a matter of hours over 842 million different households across the entire world – that is a tight deadline by anyone’s standards! Given that, research suggests that in order to meet this deadline, Santa must travel 218 million miles over the course of Christmas Eve – to achieve this, it is estimated, that his sleigh must travel at 1,280 miles per second – that is one fast vehicle.

It is Santa’s responsibility to ensure that his sleigh has been maintained and is in good working order – checks should be carried out prior to his departure from the North Pole. His sleigh must carry all the necessary documents including insurance and MOT certificates (even Santa is subject to the law). Santa should ensure that the sleigh is installed with mirrors and that he checks his blind spots before carrying out any manoeuvres.

As Santa’s sleigh passes through international air spaces, all Civil Aviation laws require to be adhered to including seat belts fitted; emergency exits clearly marked and life jackets carried.

When Santa wants to land his sleigh, he must ask permission from the relevant air traffic authority to ensure that it is safe to do so and the same applies when he is taking off. During his descent and ascent, care must be taken to avoid trees, power lines and tall buildings.

With the crackdown on drink driving across many countries, Santa should employ a back-up elf to drive his sleigh after one too many sherries. Said back up elf is banned from drinking during the journey.

Santa’s uniform

Santa must have suitable protective clothing – his red suit with white fur trim must be able to withstand all weather conditions from the extreme cold of Alaska and Antarctica to the stifling heat of Africa and Kuwait. It must feature hi-viz strips so Santa can be seen in dark conditions. His suit should also be anti-inflammatory to protect Santa from the heat and flames of the chimneys with lit fires below.

His gloves must be warm with no holes and his boots should be effective with grips so he avoids any falls in the snow and ice.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should also include a support harness for work at height as well as a hard hat and safety goggles.

Safety Equipment should be checked and replaced annually.

Santa can refer to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 and the HSE website for advice and tips about personal equipment to keep him safe at all times.

Handling techniques

It is estimated that Santa will be delivering presents to 2.5 children per household with lots of presents including heavy items. As such, Santa must undergo manual handling training and be confident that he knows the correct techniques before handling any heavy presents.

Special care should be taken when lifting and setting down presents. Stretching to reach presents in the back of his sleigh should be avoided where possible. If he can, Santa should pack his presents in the order that he will be delivering presents so that each item is easy to reach.

We strongly suggest that Santa reads the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 to ensure that he is aware of his duties both to himself and his elves.

Finally, any dangerous presents such as chemical sets should be suitably marked and in appropriate containers in line with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).

Santa Chimney Stuck

Chimneys & Work at Height

As much of Santa’s work is classed as being carried out “at height”, he will be subject to the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Santa should take care and use his safety harness and hard hat at all times.

Special care should be taken when entering target chimneys. The use of a ladder is recommended as well as special lighting due to the dark conditions. Due to chimney fumes, respiration equipment should be used at all times to protect Santa’s lungs. Safety goggles should also be used to protect Santa’s eyes from dust, soot and smoke.

If possible, Santa should assess the risk of any asbestos in old chimneys and adapt his PPE where necessary.

Any landing area must be able to withstand the weight of Santa’s sleigh – a whopping 1,232,300 metric tonnes – according to the Telegraph, that’s the equivalent of 700,000,000 Optimus Primes!! Any roof collapse, caused by this, would be deemed as totally unacceptable and a failed trip, as this would wake the children up – a result that Santa will want to avoid throughout his trip.

The danger of strange houses

Santa should be alert to dangers, at all times, when entering houses that he does not know - this includes the risk from family pets such as dogs.

To protect himself from any dog attacks, Santa should wear appropriate thick clothing and be equipped with lots of dog biscuits or perhaps a slab of meat in his pocket to create a distraction.

Care should be taken around Christmas Trees, Santa should be careful of stray glass baubles and sharp pine needles as well as those pesky Christmas tree lights. If Santa’s suit is wet with rain or snow, Santa should be cautious of electrocution from Christmas lights both on the tree and on the roof.

Working Hours

Santa is working a 31 hour shift and to avoid fatigue, regular breaks should be taken which allow Santa time to eat a snack, have a drink of milk and take a call of nature.

Santa Flying Sleigh

Working with animals

Santa is in charge of nine reindeer whilst out on his annual worldwide trip.

Prior to the trip, Santa’s veterinarian must carry out health checks on all nine reindeer and clear them as fit and healthy to withstand the physical demands of the task in hand. They must be in tip-top shape to complete their Christmas Eve flight in the tight deadline required as any injuries could slow them down.

The reindeer must be up to date on their vaccinations as they will be visiting all corners of the globe and Santa must ensure that they do not pick up or spread infections to other animals across the world.

During the trip, Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner & Blitzen must also be given regular rest breaks. They should be allowed to graze and stretch their legs frequently and each individual reindeer’s special needs should be catered for. They should be given treats to reward good behaviour to ensure a smooth operation.

Merry Christmas, and good luck Santa!

Finally, we at Harper Macleod would like to wish Santa and his nine reindeer a very merry Christmas and a safe flight this Christmas Eve!!