There’s something missing from the idealized red-suited picture of Santa Claus: an ice pack. Sure, Santa’s workshop is supposed to be a safe place where elves toil happily round the clock, but let’s face the truth. Kris Kringle’s production line is an ergonomic nightmare. From whirring conveyer belts to hours spent sitting in a sleigh, Santa’s got to be paying out the teeth for workers’ comp claims.
That’s why this holiday season, we thought we’d turn things around and give Santa a gift. So, jolly old man, if you’re out there somewhere reading the Goldtouch ergonomics blog on your day off, here you go: 10 easy ways to get all of your toy making and distributing activities into top ergonomic form. Many happy returns of the season, big guy!
1. Buy Support Products for the Whole Team
From the assembly line to the sleigh, you can bet Santa’s team has a whole lot of heavy lifting to do this season. Elves in particular will need a good back brace for all of that lifting they do around the workshop, as will Santa as he lugs that sack of presents from sleigh to living room. Flying can be hard work on the reindeers’ lower bodies, so a good knee brace can make a great investment as well.
2. Give the Gift of Earplugs
All that buzzing and hammering of tools may sound like the hum of productivity, but it adds up fast. Protect sensitive elf eardrums with earplugs or with a pair of noise canceling headphones, so they can whistle while they work to holiday jingles. (Note: We apologize to the entire fantastical community for the mixing of elf and dwarf references in this previous paragraph. Goldtouch neither supports nor endorses magical conflation).
3. Allow More Frequent Breaks
Look, it’s great that the elves, reindeer and even Santa on his big night are so dedicated to the Christmas spirit, but those long hours can take a heavy toll on the body, leading to back, neck, shoulder and joint injuries galore. To combat this, implement a strict break policy, encouraging the workforce to stop every 45 minutes or so for some stretching, walking, or even some cookie eating. There’s nothing like a little sugar rush to power everyone through the rest of the day.
4. Mix Up Activities
Sure, every elf has their specialty, but it’s terrible for the body to repeat the same motion all day, whether that’s hammering, shoe cobbling or peppermint stick syrup stewing. For a much healthier and more interesting day, have elves switch activities after every break to get those muscles moving and stretching in different ways. This will go a long way towards preventing repetitive strain injuries.
5. Find the Perfect Workstation Height
Workstations that are too tall will force elves onto their tippy toes, while those that are too short will cause hunching. Both situations will lead to excess strain in the back, neck, and even the lower the body. That’s why it’s important to keep each elf workstation at the proper height. The elf should be able to stand with their back straight, and their arms should remain mostly in a neutral position. Place any assembly instructions on an adjustable laptop stand to help prevent eye strain as well.
6. Keep Essential Tools Within Reach
Once you’ve found that perfect height, it’s important that all elves keep their tools within easy reach. This will help minimize the amount of unnatural straining and bending they have to do, which can lead to tears and sprains.
7. Start Stretching
One of the most important things everyone can do across the workforce is stretch, stretch, streeeeeetch. This is key for all elves performing repetitive motions, as it will force the muscles to work in new ways. But it’s even more crucial in keeping Santa’s blood moving as he sits for many hours in the sleigh. And of course, Santa should definitely do a few lunges and bends before he contorts his way down narrow chimneys. This will make him nice and limber, especially as he lands in the fireplace below.
8. Fit the Tools to the Elf
At Goldtouch, we believe the products you use in the workspace should adjust to fit to you — not the other way around. While Santa’s workers may only have occasional use for an ergonomic keyboard when, say, sending off orders for more parts, their many hammers and chisels and so forth should still be custom designed for every worker. After all, there is no such thing as one size fits all. The better the fit, the lower the risk of injury.
9. Reinforce Good Ergonomic Behavior
Santa’s workforce shouldn’t just be in the business of giving presents — they should get a few, too, when they do something right! Every couple of weeks, check in to see how everyone is doing with their new ergonomic habits and dole out rewards for workers who are doing it right. Just make sure the recycling bins are wide enough to fit all of that wrapping paper so you don’t have any elf stretching and straining to stuff their paper in.
10. Start With You
By far the best way to implement ergonomics in Santa’s ergonomic workshop is to start with Santa himself. After all, Santa is the CEO of the North Pole, and no workforce buys in without executive support. The elves and reindeer look up to him (in the case of elves, quite literally), so it’s time to set a great example.
This year, why not give the gift of ergonomic health? Everyone knows Santa is one of the world’s best employers, and ergonomic comfort will take things up to the next level. How will you improve your ergonomics in the new year? Let us know in the comments below.