SCIENCE

The scientific hazards of being Santa Claus | by Ethan Siegel | Starts With A Bang! | Dec, 2023

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Does Santa Claus truly have the best job in the world? While this may seem to be the case from an outside perspective, traditional views ignore the occupational health and safety hazards associated with Santa’s behavior and working conditions. (Credit: stokkete via Adobe Stock)

With any occupation comes a risk of health and safety hazards. When it comes to being Santa Claus, the challenges are unique.

If you think you have it rough at your workplace, just imagine how hard it must be for Santa Claus. Over the course of the year, he has to oversee the creation of billions of toys and presents for children all across the world. Then, in one herculean night, he must travel to hundreds of millions of households across six continents (seven, if there happen to be children in Antarctica at the time), delivering over one billion kilograms of presents in the process. In addition to that, he must contend with worker safety, his own physical and mental health, as well as the hazards of heat stress and sleigh riding during his annual global journey.

For too long, there has been a paucity of research into the occupational health and safety hazards that come along with being Santa Claus, as few resources were devoted to understanding both the long-term and short-term risks associated with his unique occupation. But all of that may be changing, as a 2015 paper written by Sebastian Straube and Xiangning Fan in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology kicked off what’s sure to be a fruitful field of inquiry into the occupational health of Santa Claus. Here’s what everyone considering a job at the North Pole should be thinking about.

Although, at a surface level, it might seem that there are only a large number of perks that come along with being Santa Claus, a more sober assessment of the situation reveals a number of occupational health and safety hazards that, to the best knowledge of modern science, have yet to be sufficiently addressed. (Credit: J&R Music World/flickr)

The perks

It’s important to recognize there are many reasons that one might be envious of Santa’s job, as there are a great many luxuries he enjoys that most of us would be happy to experience.

  • Santa largely makes his own schedule, as other than the long overnight from Christmas eve to Christmas morning, there are no external obligations on when he accomplishes his work.
  • He runs the world’s largest toy shop, which is certainly a joyous occupation that toymakers across the globe can attest to.
  • Do you like cute animals? Well Santa has the rarest of all animals at his disposal: flying reindeer, of which…

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