U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
News Release USDL 97-431
Monday, December 8, 2003
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 555-2716
OSHA CITES NORTH POLE VIOLATOR
Calling working conditions "obscene" and "unhealthful," OSHA investigators have permanently closed a North Pole toy factory. The owners — absentee for part of the year — were also cited and taken into custody. Numerous violations were recorded, both in the safety of the workers (almost all of substandard size) and in the physical conditions of their workspace.
Among the abuses and/or code violations:
Insufficient break time for the elves — OSHA requirements clearly demand two (2) 15-minute breaks per 8-hour work period.
Dangerous hats worn by elves using heavy equipment — OSHA prohibits the use of pointy and/or green felt headgear in and around moving parts.
Inappropriate and/or unsafe footwear required by Operator. Workers of substandard general size are entitled under OSHA Federal Employee Code 145B/90A to employer-issued hard-toe footwear. Operator required employees to wear soft felt footcoverings, with small noisemaking bell-type devices attached to the toe tip. (In re bell-type devices, see OSHA Federal Employee Code 1899T/85S, "The Right to a Quiet Workspace.")
At least a dozen employees of substandard size report suffering from symptoms of depression. Operator refused to supply adequate mental-health care, relying instead on the distribution of candy-cane-type candies.
Insufficient parking: Although Operator and his wife maintain a levitating sleigh (investigators were unable to personally eye-witness this contraption), the workers themselves are not provided parking facilities. The factory is currently out of range of public transportation. Employees of substandard size required to walk in wet snow. (See Footwear violation above.)
Employee toilet facilities were inadequate. Employees of substandard size — especially of uniform substandard size — require sinks and commodes no more than one foot (12 inches) from the ground in the case of sinks, and three inches in the case of commodes. Operator's repeated promises to provide tiny steps and/or foot stools were not honored. In addition, only standard-sized toilet-seat-type toilet coverings were provided for substandard-sized employees, resulting in at least one accidental drowning.
Repetitive motion injuries common in the "Tickle Me Elmo" department.
Room-and-board provisions were not up to code. Sleeping facilities were cramped and lacked privacy. And food service, provided exclusively by the Operator's wife, lacked variety and proper attention to nutrition. Employees cited numerous cases of "milk-and-cookies sickness."
During the "crunch months" of October through December, employees were refused overtime compensation.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome created by "making a list and checking it twice."
An atmosphere of "fear" and "intimidation" was cited by several employees of substandard size. Employees reported the absence of a vetted grievance procedure and described a working environment built upon threats and retaliation. Operator, apparently, maintained a cheerful and distant demeanor. Operator's wife, though, is reported to be the "enforcer," creating a terrifying "good Claus, bad Claus"-type environment.
Inadequate stress counseling provided in the Barbie and Barbie-Licensed Product department, resulting in severe self-esteem issues among female employees of substandard size. Five cases of Elfin Anorexia went untreated.
Finally, employees reported to investigators that, despite their pleas and the federal statutes prohibiting employers from requiring employees to work on religious holidays, they have never once had the Dec. 25 holiday ("Christmas") off.
Operator and his wife were led away from the facility in leg-irons, to the taunts and jeers of their former employees. Both are now in custody and are awaiting arraignment. Please refer all questions regarding their legal defense to their attorney, Mr. Alan Dershowitz.
During the investigation, OSHA inspectors uncovered numerous cases of insufficient and/or fraudulent financial record-keeping. Relevant evidence has been turned over to the Internal Revenue Service and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
The exterior buildings of the facility were also investigated by Humane Society volunteers. Eight reindeer were rescued from "filthy" and "substandard" stables. One reindeer suffers from roseacea of the nose and will be humanely destroyed.