Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Santa’s workshop: “OSHA problems galore” say whistleblowers

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

santa-warehouse
Not to be a holiday killjoy, but if Santa does not show up at your house we think we know why. We just saw a press release about a lawsuit alleging that Santa promotes hostile and unsafe work environment in shelf-elf program. The suit is filled with some pretty shocking allegations which, if true might ground the big guy. What’s more, it follows on the heels of some other recent charges by Buddy the Elf, a whistlbelower who revealed some horrible and unsafe labor practices in Santa’s workshop. Charges range from elves being paid in candy canes to exposed to terrible health hazards due to being housed with wild ruminants and exposed to their waste. The horror.
elf-safety-hazard
Part of the reason Santa has been able to get away with questionable practices is that his workshop is located outside of OSHA’s jurisdiction. He’s not beholden to US labor laws. At the oshatraining.com blog, Curtis Chambers does a great job explaining other safety problems that were identified at Santa’s North Pole workshop – no machine guarding, no personal protective equipment and no fall protection to name a few. Apparently Santa is getting fed up with all the criticism and bad publicity. Curtis explains that in recent years, to improve his image, Santa has entered a voluntary OSHA compliance program. It hasn’t all been easy, there have been some bumps in the road. You can read all about it in In Curtis’ post How OSHA nearly killed Christmas.
We are hoping Santa will be getting some help soon, though. Between Amazon’s delivery drones and Google’s somewhat terrifying BigDog and PetMan robots, things may get a little more mechanized in his workshop of the future. Then Santa can ditch the sleigh and ride in a driverless car.

Thanksgiving Risks

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Louise Norris had posted a Thanksgiving Cavalcade of Risk at Colorado Health Insurance Insider. The ACA rollout issues play heavily in the topic list, but there are also posts about disability insurance, remembering our vets and corporate social media risks. Don’t miss the outstanding winter landscape photos illustrating the issue, nice!
Have a safe and risk-free holiday – if you plan to fry up a turkey, William Shatner has some advice for you. And unless those turkeys are on your plate, watch out for those pesky birds!
Warm Thanksgiving wishes to all!

Remembering Two Prominant Risk Takers

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

We are about to observe the 235th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. As is so often the case with holidays, the ways we celebrate will not have much to do with the original events. As we indulge in a weekend of family reunions, sporting events, cookouts, libations and fireworks – along with hours sitting in traffic – we are unlikely to give much thought to the conditions that led to the promulgation of that remarkable document. So as we prepare to hit the roads, let’s take a moment to acknowledge two of the remarkable risk takers who helped make this all possible.
Let’s begin with John Adams. He trained at Harvard to become a minister, but chafed at being told what to believe and what to think, so he became a lawyer instead. On March 5, 1770, six years before the formal break from England, an unruly mob gathered in front of Boston’s Customs House. After pelting British troops with snowballs and rocks, the crowd surged forward; the troops fired into the mob, killing five people. From the colonial viewpoint, this was the “Boston Massacre.” As far as the British were concerned, it was a riot. Both views are credible.
Unpopular Cause
Captain Thomas Preston and 12 soldiers were charged with murder. No Boston lawyer would take their case, so the plea was made to John Adams, who at the time was practicing law (not all that successfully) in Quincy, about 15 miles from Boston. Adams took on the case, at considerable personal risk. His words at the time should be taken to heart by any politician seeking a vote:

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Under Adams’ skillful defense, six of the soldiers were acquitted. Two who had fired directly into the crowd were charged with murder, but were convicted only of manslaughter. Adams was paid eighteen guineas by the British soldiers, or about the cost of a pair of shoes. Beyond the fee, Adams wanted to prove to the world that American justice was balanced and fair.
Self-Evident Truths
Just six years later Thomas Jefferson wrote – and Adams helped edit – the Declaration of Independence. After ratification of the final language (which, to Jefferson’s chagrin, excluded a ban on the importation of slaves), a prayer was said and in silence the delegates to the convention applied their signatures to the document.
In the entire history of risk taking, there are few events of greater magnitude. The document would be considered treason by the most powerful government in the world; should the revolution fail – and that itself must have seemed highly likely – each signer would pay with his life, .
The Perspective of Time
One month before his death, Adams wrote of the upcoming July 4, 1826, festivities:

My best wishes, in the joys, and festivities, and the solemn services of that day on which will be completed the fiftieth year from its birth, of the independence of the United States: a memorable epoch in the annals of the human race, destined in future history to form the brightest or the blackest page, according to the use or the abuse of those political institutions by which they shall, in time to come, be shaped by the human mind.

Somber thoughts from one who was there at the beginning – and who would likely be appalled by some of the subsequent uses and abuses of his work.
As most Insider readers probably know, Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day after the Declaration was issued. Adams desperately wanted to outlive Jefferson; just before he died, he said – perhaps bitterly – “Thomas Jefferson survives.” Ironically, word had already gone out from Monticello that Jefferson had died earlier the same day. It is perhaps reassuring that such great souls could also be small minded and petty. There is still hope for us all.

The risks of being Santa

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

In one final post before we check out for the holidays, we’d like to offer an update on Santa. Our friends at the Renaissance Group have looked at the various types of insurance it takes to cover Santa’s operations in their post Protecting the big guy. We thought we’d expand on this theme by highlighting some of the risks that Santa has faced this year as noted in recent headlines:

  • Swine flu outbreak has Santa taking extra precautions. Here’s a tip for your investment portfolio: buy stock in companies that produce hand sanitizers.
  • Someone is impersonating Santa to rob banks. At least, we think that’s not the real Santa. Times are tough, but we don’t think Santa has had to resort to theft to finance his operations yet.
  • Santas debate whether it’s naughty for them to be obese: “This battle of the bulge has been raging quietly within the Santa community, which is made up of an estimated 4,000 professional Santas who congregate at annual conventions, chat year-round on Claus-centric online message boards, spend thousands on customized outfits and perform everywhere from shopping malls and military bases to homes and hospices. In some Santa circles — typically, the ones with the largest circumferences — the idea that Santa Claus should consider swapping sugar cookies for carrot sticks has been about as popular as vegan eggnog.”
  • Santa’s “naughty-nice” database may have been hacked. This could cause untold mayhem. Perhaps the hackers are the same folks that messed up Congressional databases allowing the naughty to get financial bailouts while the nice folk are left high and dry?
  • Claus in Crisis. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. There are rumors that some of his reindeer may be on steroids. Plus, Santa has OSHA examining him on one front and the anti-immigration people questioning the status of his workers on the other.

Bossman Santa
We know the job of being Santa is a tough one, but he still has obligations as an employer. We’ve been trying to keep an eye on Santa’s record as an employer over the years – we don’t want his workers to be forgotten up there in the North Pole. After all, they work long hours under arduous conditions. Via David Letterman, we’ve learned about the Top 10 Elf Complaints:
10. Bells on clothing target for jeers at truck stop
9. Need two pieces of I.D. to buy beer
8. Santa’s union-busting goons killed a guy last spring
7. Black elves control weight room
6. R&R weekends in Aleutians spoiled by trigger-happy shore patrol
5. Incredible markup at North Pole 7-Eleven
4. Workmen’s compensation doesn’t cover “Mistletoe lung”
3. The Colonel practically runs my life (Sorry, that’s an Elvis complaint)
2. Dead elves just tossed out on tundra
1. Santa only invites his favorites to join him in the Jacuzzi
In a recent interview, Santa dispels most of these charges. He says that he pays the elves a living wage and “We give full benefits, pension, 401(k), and free shoe lifts for life. Plus, the uniform is free.” He offers an alternate viewpoint – apparently the elves aren’t always fine, upstanding employees. After firing some leves for lying on their application, all hell broke loose. Santa says they “…Got drunk on eggnog and ginger ale and had chicken fights all over the workshop. Nothing worse than an angry, drunk elf.”