‘Twas the Week before Christmas: Safety and Health at the North Pole

Posted on by Stephanie Stevens and Julie Tisdale-Pardi


‘Twas the week before Christmas, Santa’s elves work long shifts,

Everyone’s exhausted, but there have to be gifts;

Their work schedule leaves them tired and sleepy,

But a mistake with the toys will make children weepy;

Exercise, diet and relaxation techniques, Can help the elves get a better night’s sleep;

And workshop policies friendly to the elf, Will help ensure Total Worker Health®.


To make wooden toys, the elves saw and sand,

But care must be taken to not lose a hand;

The hard-working elves must also be aware,

That exposure to wood dust can impair.


Outside the workshop, elves toil in snow,

To get Santa’s sleigh ready to go;

Working outside brings the risk of cold stress,

Several layers of loose clothing is how they should dress:

Insulated boots plus a hat and mittens,

Could prevent the elves from getting frost bitten.


Elves in the barn, they cough and they wheeze,

Working near reindeer can cause asthma and allergies,

When working with livestock in an enclosed space,

The elves should wear a dust mask on their face;

And training young reindeer is no easy task,

If done properly, the elves health, it will last.


The big night draws near, the elves load up the sleigh,

“Lift and lower within your power zone!” Santa does say,

Moving all those gifts is a high-risk task,

That could leave the elves with pain in their backs;

Safe work practices and the use of powered equipment,

Could help the elves safely prepare Santa’s shipment.


The sleigh is packed up, Santa leaves on his flight,

To trek around the world in just one night;

It’s cold and it’s noisy, he secures his red cap,

To check the noise levels, Santa could use an app;

Hearing protection is likely a must,

In well-fitting earplugs you know he can trust.


Now St. Nick’s getting older, how old we don’t know,

But driving that sleigh, a crash could take a toll;

New tools for all drivers could help keep him safe:

Blind spot monitor, drowsy alert, and autonomous brake.


To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!

Please Santa dear, ensure you don’t fall;

Watch out for that skylight, beware the weathervane,

Any questions, consult our fall-prevention campaign.


While the beard on his chin is as white as the snow,

It won’t work with a respirator, he surely must know;

Imagine if Santa wore PPE,

To combat the hazards he’s sure to see?

Despite all our work in Occupational Safety and Health,

We’d laugh if we saw him, in spite of our self.


Please work safe dear elves, be careful St. Nick,

Remember NIOSH can help keep you from getting hurt or sick;

If you need more information, visit our website,

Until then, “Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!”


Stephanie Stevens, MA, is a Health Communication Specialist in the NIOSH Office of the Director.

Julie Tisdale-Pardi, MA, is the NIOSH Science Blog Coordinator.

Posted on by Stephanie Stevens and Julie Tisdale-Pardi

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Page last reviewed: November 14, 2022
Page last updated: November 14, 2022