Chances are this holiday season you will send and/or receive a package. Probably several. We all delight in the ‘miracle’ of a package arriving on our doorstep a mere few days after ordering. It’s easy to forget that there is no magic involved. Considerable effort and many workers are responsible for the arrival of your holiday gifts. We present the lifecycle of your gift and point out the workers involved and some of the safety and health issues faced at every step. This holiday season remember the workers who make and deliver the presents you gift and receive. Happy Holidays!

Workers designed the product you purchased. Long hours at computer screens could lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Workers manufactured the item you purchased. Approximately 15.4 million workers are employed in the manufacturing industry and account for nearly 6% of the fatalities and 13% of the illness and injuries in the workplace.

Truck drivers and pilots move these goods from the manufacturing facilities to warehouses and stores.

Those who shop in brick and mortar stores will engage with retail workers whose risk for stress and violence can increase at the holidays.                                  

If you order online, someone developed and maintains the website. These employees may work in the ‘gig’ economy which poses unique workplace safety and health issues.

If you place your order by phone or find yourself dealing with customer service, the call center workers face hazards such as noise exposure and sedentary work.

Warehouse workers ready your package for delivery. In addition to traditional hazards such as transportation-related injuries and MSDs, some facilities are utilizing robots which present new hazards.

You are probably most familiar with those delivering your packages. Whether it is postal workers or those in non-standard work arrangements, they face motor vehicle hazardsstressfatigue and shiftwork.

At the end of your package’s lifecycle, recycling workers manage the boxes and wrapping paper you recycle, and if your gift replaced an old cell phone or computer, those may end up in recycling too. If the gift wasn’t quite right, it may make its way back to a retail store during the post-holiday return frenzy.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Click here to visit the NIOSH Science Blog web page and leave a comment.

Here are a few gifts that keep on giving.

♦ Workplace Medical Mystery at the North Pole

♦ Technology at the North Pole

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

♦ Safety for Santa