Visual safety efforts have been a major part of many workplaces for a very long time. Even before the term ‘visual safety’ was used, companies would do things like put up signs or even simpler things within the workplace. What most people don’t realize, however, is that the concept of visual safety in the workplace actually began in an extremely surprising place. Santa’s Workshop.
That’s right, Santa’s Workshop, located in the North Pole, came up with the concept of visual safety over a thousand years ago. Prior to this innovation, the workshop was actually quite dangerous and far less efficient, which resulted in many good boys and girls getting no presents at all. Even worse than that, the number of elves experiencing injuries in the workplace was off the charts.
With the goal of improving overall safety and efficiency in his workshop, Santa came up with the concept of visual safety. Ever since he implemented these changes Santa’s Workshop has operated with zero elf injuries or fatalities, and they haven’t missed a toy delivery yet. If you want to be on the list of ‘good safety managers’ this year, take some time to learn from Santa himself about how to use visual communication to improve safety.
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SafetyTac Floor Markings & Floor Signs
One of the first major changes that Santa made was using the floors to improve visual communications. Prior to the changes being made, the floors featured simple candy cane stripes and while they were quite jolly, they didn’t really serve any purpose.
Santa started by ordering some high quality SafetyTac floor markings to help convey specific information. The following are just a few examples of how these floor markings improved visual safety in his workshop:
Arrows – Using floor marking arrows Santa was able to ensure the elves drove their high-low sleighs in the right directions at all times to reduce the risk of accidents.
Aisle Markings – Another excellent floor marking was the tape used to mark off aisles where the elves could walk while in the warehouse. This helped keep them out of the path of any reindeer flying through the area.
Floor Marking Dots – Santa even used color-coded floor marking dots to remind the elves of specific hazards. For example, when the elves saw orange colored dots on the floor they knew they had to wear their respiratory protection gear because they were entering a gassy area (the reindeer pen).
In addition to the simple floor markings, floor signs can be used when a very specific message needs to be sent. For example, Santa placed signs that said “Caution Sleigh Traffic” at all the intersections throughout his workshop to ensure people were aware that these potentially dangerous vehicles were operating in the area (either on the ground, or pulled through the air by a team of reindeer).
Other floor signs would let the sleigh drivers know to slow down as they approached intersections or would alert the elves walking through the area that there was a potential pinch point caused by reindeer antlers.
If you are ever lucky enough to get a tour of Santa’s Workshop, you’ll surely be impressed at the way he was able to turn the floors from just something to walk on into an actual life-saving visual communication tool.
Of course, the floors weren’t the only area that was used to improve visual safety in Santa’s Workshop. He also hung up signs on the walls to help communicate safety requirements and alert those in the area to potential dangers.
For example, the “NO CANDY CANES” sign was hung near all the doll assembly areas. This was very important because the sticky candy canes could easily get caught in the doll hair. The elves working on the dolls would then get tangled up in the mess, resulting in unfortunate slip and fall accidents.
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In the break rooms, wall signs were used to reduce the risk of serious burns. Prior to these signs, the elves would excitedly gulp their hot chocolate as soon as it was ready. This could cause serious burns on their mouths and throats. Putting this “CAUTION: HOT CHOCOLATE” wall sign up was an excellent reminder for the elves to let their drinks cool before enjoying.
One last wall sign that was placed up in the workshop was the “Danger Hard Hat Required” sign. This sign was very important for elf safety in areas where the abominable snowman was working on hanging lights or polishing icicles. He would often accidently drop these items, which could cause significant injuries if the elves weren’t wearing their hard hats.
As you can see, wall signs were invaluable to the safety improvement efforts made in Santa’s Workshop. For generations of elves, these signs have served as essential reminders of how to keep themselves and others as safe as possible in the workshop.
One last component that helped Santa improve the visual safety in his workshop is custom labeling. Once he added a LabelTac label printer to the workshop he was able to create easy-to-read labels to convey important information quickly and accurately.
Santa printed labels to place on certain presents, for example, that contained small parts that were potentially choking hazards for the good boys and girls. For safety improvements within the facility he made labels that were placed on the large drums of reindeer waste that were shipped off to farmers around the world to be used as fertilizer.
These labels had information and pictograms as required by NPFEA (North Pole Fertilizer Examination Agency) as well as OSHA. The labels helped Santa stay on the regulators’ “Nice List” while also keeping the elves and others safe while working and shipping with this potentially hazardous material.
Visual Safety IS Workshop Safety
It is easy to see that using visual safety products is a great way to improve the overall safety of your facility. Santa has been an innovator in the visual communications sector for hundreds of years, and his proven techniques are now being used by other companies around the world.