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Cinematic Safety Slip-ups | Health and Safety Breaches in Popular Films

Posted on Friday, 9th August 2019

Cinematic Safety Slip-ups | Health and Safety Breaches in Popular Films

Health and Safety breaches aren’t only for the construction and general workplace industries. Think more Middle Earth Mishaps, Avengers Accidents, Matrix Mistakes and Hogwarts Hazards. In this week's blog post we will be looking at the Health and Safety blunders within the film industry and how they can so often make mistakes we easily miss.

Lord of the “Oops”

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.” 

An iconic scene in Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring where the entirety of Hobbiton, and many from farther away, are drinking, singing, dancing and engaging general merriment.

Image shows Frodo and Bilbo with fireworkEven more memorable when hobbits, Merry and Pippin, manage to steal the biggest firework from Gandalf’s wagon, with no security measures and on a quite easily child-accessible ledge. Not only that, but the fireworks are being lit in the middle of the party without a barrier with young children running around chasing after butterfly shaped sparks. Not just Gandalf, but both Merry and Pippin endanger themselves and everyone else by lighting the Dragon firework inside a tent without a clue about fire safety. No fire extinguishers or fire blankets anywhere. Not properly in the ground, the Dragon takes off in a glorious golden flash into the sky, taking the tent with it before exploding and flying over all the attendees causing them to flee in a panic.

This is the point where we would direct everyone to our Fire Safety and Awareness courses – and the mischievous pair of Hobbits to a Demolition course.

Avengers Disassembled?

Image shows Tony StarkTony Stark – Genius, billionaire, Playboy, philanthropist. Maybe take out the genius though?

Throughout the Marvel Universe, Stark is a name known by most. We are really first introduced to the character in Iron Man 1. Basically, for those not familiar with the Marvel Comic Universe (MCU), Stark is an engineer with an eye for new technology and inventions. When he is captured in Afghanistan and held hostage, he manages to create a mini fusion reactor with materials and scraps found in the cave where he is held. Hazardous materials left in his cell, potentially explosive materials, no ventilation system, welding fumes in the air, only one exit (not even signed) and the only door locked from the outside.

In this case, we would recommend that Mr Stark take one of our Health and Safety style courses or even Hazardous Substance Control course.

A Glitch in The Matrix

While The Matrix is an outstanding representation of a Science-Fiction dystopian future that has evolved beyond imagination, it doesn’t seem that the importance of health and safety has progressed one iota. If anything, there is a lack of concern.

Image shows Neo and Agent Smith fight sceneTwo main scenes come to mind with this film. The first is the Subway fight between Neo and Agent Smith. Luckily, there were no civilians on the platform – or anywhere, how convenient.

The destruction of a public facility is bad enough, but when the film was released in 1999, and even then, the station looks worn and old, meaning there could have been asbestos within the building, framework and infrastructure. The amount they throw each other into the tiled walls and break supporting pillars could surely have disturbed any asbestos or hazardous substances. Electricity, fire hazards, confined spaces and potentially explosive materials all around the place, and yet they’re destroying the structure, breaking walls and public phones and shooting guns in every direction. Not just that, but the amount of debris that end up on the ground and over the tracks would surely cause disturbance to subway schedules and just a real pain for the cleaners. 

The other scene that springs up, is just before the iconic scene towards the end where Neo becomes The One. Prior to this scene, Neo is running from the Agents. He gets cornered in an alley with no escape but up a set of fire escape ladders on the side of the building. Had there been a fire at that time, he would be obstructing the inhabitant’s way of escape. He even runs through an arbitrary flat, breaks a door, and gets bullet holes all over the building. They were lucky they didn’t hit a main gas/water pipe or through the doors/walls to innocent bystanders.

Perhaps Neo should look into one of Essential Site Skills’ courses on Working at Height, or even our Conflict Resolution in the Workplace e-learning course.

Hogwarts: School of Danger and Peril

For saying that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is supposed to be the most protected place for those learning magic, the amount of Health and Safety breaches that happen in this school is astounding. Children are left wondering the halls and forests where there are dangerous creatures, steep cliffs, unknown potions and all manner of threats lurking. Let us not even begin to look at Seamus Finnegan and how his explosive tendencies perfectly display the lack of fire safety.

Image shows Hogwarts moving stairsJust look at the picture of the moving staircases the students must use to navigate the castle. One child only need lose their footing when a set of steps move, and it is wizard jam on toast for dinner in the Great Hall! Perhaps Dumbledore should have a look at our Slips, Trips and Falls course. Clearly, no security measures were implemented on construction of the steps and the Forbidden Forest has no safety barrier or means of separating the dangers within from the hundreds of students.

Not to mention all manner of potions, tonics and concoctions that lay around the school - maybe an online course in Control of Substance Hazardous to Health (COSHH) would be a good idea for the faculty. Although,  I must give credit where credit is due: well done Professor Sprout, probably the most sensible of the staff, who equips her students with goggles and earmuffs when dealing with the young Mandrakes. 

But other than that, Dumbledore is more than likely getting sued.

Get Health and Safety Qualified

Why write about all of these film failings? I can assure you that there is a point. Even in the film world, things can so often go wrong, frequently because proper precautions were not taken, instructions not followed and a lack of training in health and safety. Essential Site Skills training courses and NVQs can ensure you are properly educated to implement proper safety measures whether you are in an old castle with crumbling walls (hazard), or re-enacting building top fight scenes (heights).

ESS can equip you with in-depth training and courses certified with qualifications from recognised educating bodies. Have a look through our Course Index List of all of the training and NVQ courses we offer. Alternatively, have a look at the information provided by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the importance of health and safety in the film, theatre and broadcasting industries. If you have any questions or want to sign up to a course, feel free to Contact Us on our website or give one of our friendly staff members a call on 0115 8970 529 and they will be happy to help.

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