"The movie ends in a stock movie location I thought had been retired: a steam and flame factory where the combatants stalk each other on catwalks and from behind steel pillars, while the otherwise deserted factory supplies vast quantities of flame and steam."
Industrial complexes in which climactic battles are fought always seem to have been built with a callous disregard for the safety of workers. Inside, you're likely to find narrow catwalks with simple rope/cable (or no) handrails inevitably hung by what might as well be knitting yarn over open bubbling vats of green acid, massive exposed machinery flailing everywhere without protective covers, control switches placed in the furthest and most awkward of places, blast furnaces glowing fiery red, and other hazardous conditions so terrifying that any sane person would probably insist on a six-figure danger bonus to even go near the place.
Almost every such complex includes a tower or shaft several dozen feet wide and hundreds of feet tall/deep, ringed with balconies and walkways from which one can easily slip, and at least one retractable bridge that doesn't seem to care if there is anybody on it before it retracts.
High-pressure/high-temperature pipelines are made of substandard materials that tear or rupture in response to anything as hard-hitting as a thrown punch that unintentionally hits them, spewing superheated steam, flames or some of that bright green acid everywhere. The only surfaces strong enough to withstand a bullet are the ones that will ricochet a shot back at the hero or the villain. Floors and walkways have a nasty tendency to collapse, large sections just falling away as if the builders ran out of rivets halfway through and hoped no one would notice.
High above, a crane swings round errantly, just waiting to drop random heavy objects on your head. Billows of smoke and steam belch from every other vent, and unidentified liquids drip unimpeded from somewhere high overhead to lubricate the already tenuous footing on the substandard walkways. Guardrails, if they're present at all, are flimsy and prone to breakage or collapse if anything close to a normal human's weight is put on them, except when someone will fall victim to a Railing Kill.
And oddly enough, for all the lack of safety compliance, the factory's door will be unlocked or easily entered, and there will be not a single night watchman in the obviously dangerous facility.note Of course, would YOU want to wander around such a place for hours at a time every night?
In short, if the United States or European Union's Occupational Safety and Health Administration ever saw the place, it would be condemned in seconds. Sometimes, the story will lampshade this by referring to the factory as "abandoned"; however, it will almost never be explained why an abandoned building has not been demolished at this point, why it still receives electricity, why all the machinery is present and operable as if it's itching to be the setting of a climactic showdown, or why such an unsafe factory was built in the first place.
Of course, this means the hero and the villain will immediately rush into the heart of such a complex to have their final battle, instead of just settling things in the parking lot. On the other hand, this does allow for the frequent accident of the villain falling to his doom. Any collateral damage in the battle will invariably hit a Big Red Button, cause Failsafe Failure, and No One Could Survive That resulting explosion.
These environments still exist because they are visually interesting and allow the cowardly villain more opportunities to sneak around behind the hero, or the overmatched hero to find some way to even the scales against the seemingly omnipotent villain. Granted, it's always possible to put together a dramatic fight sequence in a perfectly balanced tournament-style environment, (see the last segment of the first The Karate Kid movie, or virtually any movie where martial arts is the foundation of the plot), but the ultimate authority on such matters in entertainment is, of course, the Rule of Cool.
These facilities are also often referred to as "Smoke and Fire Factories", in reference to the fact that the function of the building is rarely explained, with smoke and fire as its only discernible outputs.
Note that if a villain plants a few explosives in such a place, it transforms from a mundanely unsafe facility into an instant Death Course. For the video game equivalent, see Eternal Engine and Malevolent Architecture. Construction Zone Calamity will usually employ this trope for laughs. Homicide Machines is when a horror film does this with everyday household appliances. No Seatbelts is a subtrope.
Incidentally, OSHA Compliance is not just about construction and design, but also about people in the facility following proper procedures, so the act of having a battle in a workplace is already non-compliance with OSHA, even without the smoke and flame.
This trope is always present in a Nightmarish Factory.
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Anime and Manga
Lampshaded in the first episode of Code Geass. After Lelouch falls into a hijacked truck, he wonders "Why didn't they stick a ladder on the inside, too?"
Asuna: Hey, wait a sec, why doesn't such a high bridge have any handrails? I wish this fantasy stuff would give me a break already!
Mahora itself, which has stuff like vampires, dragons, and demons all over campus, none of which the students are aware of. And presumably some of the teachers are unaware as well; nobody felt like informing Negi of all the weirdness. Such as an evil vampire with a grudge against his father...
In the manga of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Kurotowa is sent to investigate the God Warrior being excavated in Pejiti only for his guide to fall a couple hundred feet to his death, and he says "This is why they keep having accidents." Justified in that this is After the End, the OSHA died along with the industrialized world in the seven days of fire.
In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman there are no seatbelts in the God-Phoenix control room, even though the individual vehicles have them. This in a flying battle ship that regularly gets knocked all over the place. The Jigokiller episode had Dr. Nambu standing over a BIG tank holding the plant of the title, on a narrow catwalk with waist-high rails. The rails are so damaged that he cuts his hand on one. Granted, the plant didn't eat men, but it could move independently and had already been shown to throw G-4 about quite nicely. The rail crosses over with artistic license, since the blood from the cut is what kills the monster. Galactor bases and mechs are no better: They fit the waist-high rails and deep pits to a T, usually, and blow up if looked at wrong. (A bit of exaggeration, but not much.)
The Old Momentum Reactor in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, obviously. It caused Zero Reverse, and was still dangerous afterwards. How dangerous? There was a portal to Hell inside it. That's pretty dangerous.
The Duel Academia in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, its on an island miles away from the rest of civilization, and is sitting on top of the ruins which hold the spirits of 3 evil monster cards. That's not all, there's an abandoned dorm in which all of the students in it have mysteriously disappeared, and the school has made minimal attempts to cover it up. The whole island is a magnet for evil spirits to manifest themselves in card games.
From Watchmen we have the intrinsic-field subtractor experiment, which vaporizes anything put in the chamber. It comes equipped with a massive steel door to the chamber that closes on a timer without any interference, confirmation or even presence of a human scientist. There are no checks done to see if any personnel is in the chamber at the time, no warning sounds or signs displayed that warn when a timed closing is imminent, despite frequent work being done inside (why else would Dr Manhattan have left his coat inside the chamber?). There's no way to open the door from the outside or inside, and no way to stop the disintegrator-beam from firing after the door has closed. And to top it all off, these are all explained in the comic as safety features.
Bear in mind, this experiment was being done back in The Fifties.
One of the origin stories of The Joker in Batman involved falling into a vat of some unspecified acid in the Ace Chemical Processing Plant, staining his skin and hair, giving him his distinctive appearance and driving him insane. (Batman: The Man who Laughs suggests that the chemical plant in question was under fire from OSHA . Some versions of Two Face's origins also involve this trope.
Explicitly mocked in chapter 45 of the Firefly fanfic The Treasure of Lei Fong Wu; Zoe and her party find such a gap. One of the team points out that it is both necessary for the operation of the ship, and presents "formidable opposition" to boarding parties. Such that it would be more or less impassable if the other side was defended, even with the flimsy, railing-less bridge up.
Lampshaded at least three times in Fallout: Equestria as Littlepip repeatedly encounters buildings, including a factory, a mad science lab, and a powerplant, with one major feature in common:
"How did catwalks over heavy machinery become the dominant aesthetic?"
Labcoats, gloves, goggles; these things aren't just there to lookgood / sexy/nerdy (depending on your point of view,) they are all protective gear. It won't help if you're running around showing off lingerie/skimpy outfits/your birthday suit while you go about sciencing. Goggles go over your eyes, not on your head.
Lampshaded in Starcrossed, where Scotty tells Geordi that in his time, warp core breaches were only created in the lab for experimentation, and the TNG basic design has been rejected as a useless and dangerous piece of Tim Taylor Technology.
One of the main reasons the Imperials wanted to get back to their own galaxy was so they wouldn't face having to downgrade their equipment when they run out of spares, or as one Captain put it: "I will not have my ship be a flying bomb."
The Total Drama story, Legacy plays with this trope and ultimately defies it. It takes a contestant's death and the enactment of a "memorial" law to clearly establish that reality show contestants are to be considered employees for the purpose of applying workplace safety regulations.
Subverted with the Valkoran Empire's Obliterator-class Star Destroyers. They have some corridors that lead right into the plasma cannon's firing tunnel, but have force-field airlocks that activate during firing cycles. Valkoran Trooper Private Will Helms somehow gets trapped in one of these tunnels, and nearly sucked out into space before being incinerated by the plasma sphere. They get points for having force-fields, but Zolph Vaelor questions why the architects would place corridors leading right into the tunnel itself. Admiral Marx Gravlek just passes it off as an obstacle for keeping infiltrators like him out.
The mockery is taken further with Darth Vader's castle on Vjun. Private Helms (same one) is talking with another Valkoran trooper about the creepy atmosphere of Bast Castle and his previous death while standing on a walkway with no guardrails. Once the trooper laughs at him, she hits him on the shoulder and accidentally causes him to fall off the walkway and die again.
Zolph: "By the Force! I'm really beginning to feel bad for the poor souls who worked here."
Films — Animated
In WALL•E, while the Buy n Large mega-corporation would be pulverized by the EPA if the company didn't basically own the ENTIRE planet (not even counting the literal mountains of trash, their plan to take care of the garbage as to just incinerate it all), they do have very good safety standards. The Axioms trash compactor gives ample warning before it sends the garbage into space (even though no human could realistically even get down there, and the doors close before the crash is sent off), the garbage chutes have covers over them, there is a ton of safety features on the escape pod (seat restraints, flares, floatation devices, fire hydrant), and there are manual emergency door overrides that for once actually work.
BnL really has the opposite problem- babying humans for so long that they've become, well, giant babies. The corporation has taken great pains to create robots for every task, keeping he humans from anything that resembles either work or risk, but also preventing them from accomplishing anything.
In The Emperor's New Groove, the lever that flips you into Yzma's secret lab is right next to a lever opening a trapdoor to a crocodile pit. Lampshaded when Yzma's henchman pulls the wrong lever. Returning from her trip to the pool, the alligator-encumbered Yzma says, "Why do we even have that lever?" Kuzco would also like to know. This is also played with in the TV series. Every time Yzma goes to her lair in the school, she orders "Pull the lever, Kronk!" followed by something DIFFERENT happening to her each episode. Even Kuzco does this in a secret bunker that he had hidden in the jungle for some reason.
Films — Live-Action
In Lockout the spaceship has some panel on the wall that explodes violently when shot ONCE (despite bullets being shot all over the place in other scenes with no similar explosions).
also, when Hock locks himself and Emily in a room and shoots the door lock to lock them inside, somehow he nicks a nitrogen line which slowly fills the room with nitrogen gas. WHY is there a nitrogen gas tube running through the wall of a cell?
The Arrival: Charlie Sheen pushes a disguised alien out of an elevator, falling to his doom. The aliens have interstellar travel, secretly build a vast network of Global warming-inducing terraforming plants on Earth, yet their elevators are exposed, completely lacking in rails, or even walls for that matter. Go figure.
The 1989 Batman movie with Jack Nicholson drops his character Jack Napier into a giant bubbling vat full of... something to turn him into The Joker. Justified: Jack turns on a bunch of the machines and makes them run at unsafe levels to create a diversion for the cops. The vat full of green acid? You can see it being filled in the background of several shots, as a result of these actions. Laser-Guided Karma indeed.
The Good Guy Doll factory in Child's Play 2 apparently has highly inaccessible (and locked) exits, blocked off by conveyor belts and doll assembling machines.
Daylight which featured Sylvester Stallone as a hot shot EMS rescuing people from a blocked and weakened underwater "Hudson Tunnel" (standing in for the Lincoln Tunnel) in New York City. The ventilation facilities for said tunnels was something that has just flown under the radar of the OSHA whale for sure.
In real life, the ventilation system costs several hundred million dollars, consume several dozen kilowatts of power, and in the event of an emergency the fans will run at 105% capacity until failure. And trucks like that aren't allowed to go through any tunnels for exactly this reason. Even ones that just catch on fire like they would in real life instead of producing an Independence Day-sized fireball. And ones where the explodium barrels are actually secured.
Enemy Mine features a mining ship with little to no safety features in sight, resulting in plentiful deaths and mutilations. Possibly justified in that it belongs to illegal strip-miners who employ illegal slave labor who may not be arsed into caring about legal safety regulations.
In the Firefly movie Serenity, Mal needs to access a machine that's "a little hard to get to"; it's on a platform in the center of a deep shaft filled with moving and grinding machinery. The bridge controls are for some reason only on the platform itselfnote the guy who owned the place is a master hacker, so he may have had it configured for voice-print or suchlike, and even extended, the bridge is narrow and has no railing (though at least the platform does). Justified in that the machine serves as his secret backup, the death course is just an other layer of security.
Lampshaded by Galaxy Quest in a number of places, most notably when The Captain and the Bridge Bunny need to pass through a part of the ship that is essentially a Death Course for no reason other than that it was used as one in the original series the ship was based on. On seeing what they had to do to get past, the Bridge Bunny (Sigourney Weaver playing actress Gwen De Marco playing Lt. Tawny Madison) exclaims, "Well, forget it! I'm not doing it! This episode was badly written!"
In Bird On A Wire, the final battle between Rick Jarmin and the bad guys takes place in the zoo that is filled to the brim with nasty security breaches / insane design. Let's count all the ways things can go wrong: 1) Mixing leopards and tigers in the same space. 2) putting chimpanzees and baboons in the same habitat then 3) allowing aforementioned leopards and tigers access to the monkey habitat 4) also, crocodiles and snakes and 5) rickety bridge/ledge that connects with 6) unsecured artificial waterfall that fills artificial lake filled with 6) wholly natural piranhas! And that's not mentioning lack of any security from "behind the scenes", which allows access to our hero to the cages of all those animals without any problems.
In The Fugitive Richard Kimble, Marshall Gerard, and Dr. Charles Nichols all chase each other in a laundry room full of scalding hot pipes and a huge I beam on a chain for someone to get hit in the head with.
In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the alternate mine track turns into a dangerously fast roller coaster track that is elevated over sharp rocks, has hairpin turns and sudden drops, and at one point runs high above a magma chamber. The various junctions and equipment strewn through the path indicate that miners (children, at that) are meant to work there. Another one possibly justified because the owners were evil: the kids were slave labor. Amusingly, a boarded-up track has a "DANGER" sign across it. You don't say!
The Star Wars galaxy is filled with indoor, 500+ foot deep (and often completely pointless) chasms that have no guard rails.
Even the Emperor's throne room has a Bottomless Pit with little waist-height rails. Its mouth is at the top of a skyscraper above the Death Star, bringing up some interesting Fridge Logic as to why this pit had to be extended up the building.
In a A New Hope, the tractor beam's power is controlled through a panel perched on a tower over a bottomless pit. Also, the catwalk to access the controls is about a foot wide. And those two controller dudes perched on the itty bitty platform right next to the gigantic superlaser beam!
Another scene in the film where Luke and Leia are stuck in an arch way that has an extendable bridge over another giant chasm. Not only do we never get an explanation why the Death Star needs these giant trenches inside a space station, but we also see no sign that the extendable bridge has guard rails, nor was there anything preventing Luke from running off the edge through the open door way that didn't even have a warning about the giant trench. Luke was able to effectively "lock" the door behind him by shooting the door control/bridge extension on his side, some how deactivating the door controls on the other side, all without a manual way to extend the bridge or open the door.
There are railings. An ankle high border that most likely makes things worse by making it easier to trip and fall to your death. Not helped by the fact that so many people wear robes.
Padme's apartment, at the top of a miles-high skyscraper, also has a huge open balcony with no railings in her living room. It is, however, convenient for parking a starfighter there so that one can make a dramatic exit. Hope she wasn't planning to raise her kids in the place though.
Mustafar. Between the unstable (after Obi and Vader cause a Failsafe Failure) platforms all over and the lava, you wonder why the Trade Feds even bothered going there. The only thing keeping the place from melting to slag were the forcefields... which were disabled by two guys laser-swordfighting.
The Phantom Menace's climactic lightsaber battle maintained the franchise's proud standard of bottomless pits without safety rails around them.
Bizarrely, the primitive Ewoks actually have railings in their tree villages. Even more bizarrely, these are at a height suitable for human-sized beings (they are like chin-up bars for Ewoks).
The blast doors. These are quadruple-section doors that close in from the corners, leaving an increasingly-shrinking square in the middle. Yes, in the event of decompression or a firefight, these doors need to close quickly for the safety of the onboard personnel (and to prevent pesky intruders from escaping, natch.) But if a body (organic or mechanic) gets caught in the opening and mulched by the doors, that's a whole lotta cleaning up involved, and that's if the doors don't jam from all that matter caught in them. An episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars has a clonetrooper dying in exactly this way while trying to escape from a maximum-security Separatist prison planet. The actual death is off-screen, but you can tell exactly what happened.
Justified. When there's decompression or invasion going on, saving the rest of the ship is more important than saving one member of the crew from a gruesome death. And those massive doors certainly look like they can bisect droids and organics alike without much trouble. As for the quadruple-square thing... yeah, that's just for show.
Justified. Podracing is essentially vehicular gladiatorial combat; it's loved precisely because it's ridiculously dangerous and often lethal. It's quite possible that the ludicrous design of the podracers is to make them more dangerous. It is, after all, established every time we see a speeder that the galaxy has far safer ways of engineering flying vehicles, and when one company comes out with a podracer that follows saner principles the result is called "twisted" by everyone else.
This is elaborated on in the EU, where it's revealed that podracing was eventually banned by the Empire; not that this necessarily stops dangerous activities, since Swoop racing becomes popular afterwards. * Swoops are described as heavily modded speeder bikes that consist of a seat, handling controls, and an overpowered engine This was declared by some to be an example of Imperial bigotry, since almost all swoop racers are human while almost all podracers are non-human. If so, the Empire was accidentally doing the aliens a favor.
In Alien, the Nostromo has obnoxious strobe lights and steam jets that have no apparent purpose other than to make life difficult once the self-destruct protocol is initiated.
LV-426 in Aliens does have handrails, but they are only thigh-high, and result in at least one Colonial Marine falling over and plummeting through the floors of an atmosphere processor.
Alienł has a man cleaning a tunnel right next to a fan that has no protective venting whatsoever.
Lampshaded in I, Robot when Will Smith, trying to get to the brain of the villain computer, complains about the stupidity of a design involving narrow catwalks suspended over a 100+ -story shaft. Especially when trying to cross while being attacked by hundreds of killer robots.
Spooner: This is poor building planning.
The climactic battle in The One, starring Jet Li, takes place in just such a factory. A couple of isolated, detonated explosives, and suddenly the entire building is a shower of sparks and flame. But at least the walkways can handle guys leaping twenty feet into the air before landing on them.
Most James Bond films contain examples of this, though it may often be justified as being part of the (super)villain's secret lair.
Quantum of Solace: If you're going to run your hotel on hydrogen fuel cells, you might want to protect all that explosive hydrogen with more than a chain-link fence. Then again, the hotel was still under construction. How, exactly, does one recharge said fuel cells? By separating the hydrogen atoms and oxygen atoms in plain, ordinary water, which is, thanks to Quantum's activities, in *very* short supply in Bolivia. Karmic Death never tasted so good.
In The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga's laser has a maintenance access area mere inches from the path of the beam, which can be switched on if someone so much as bumps the control panel. Additionally, his complex's power source involves uncovered vats of cryogenic liquid, which naturally have catwalks above them from which it is easy to fall. Did I mention the whole thing explodes if something (like, say, a body) causes the temperature to rise?
In Licence to Kill, Bond is trapped on a conveyor belt leading to a pair of toothed rollers. There is an emergency stop switch... on the far end of the conveyor.
One of the villains suffers death by explosive decompression when a single hose on his hyperbaric chamber is cut.
Dr. No has a completely unshielded nuclear reactor, complete with a coolant pool with barely a railing between it and the control stations. An Air-Vent Passageway even opens into the room.
In Moonraker, Bond turns off the artificial gravity of the Big Bad's space station with the flip of a switch.
In Tomorrow Never Dies, a number of mooks end up crushed by newspaper printing presses. Later, we see the Big Bad's ship, in which both the Sea Drill and a nuclear missile are stored and launched in the same space as the crew's workstations. There doesn't even appear to be any means of venting exhaust from the rocket motor.
In Goldeneye, the Big Bad keeps drums of aircraft fuel and vats of cryogenic liquid in the same room as the workstations from which he controls everything.
Justified in the 1984 Killer Robot movie Runaway, where the reason for the lack of safety rails on a construction site is that only robots work up there. Knowing that the hero suffers from vertigo, it's where the Big Bad chooses to make a hostage exchange.
In Spider-Man 3, the soon-to-be Sandman falls into a sand-filled open pit that is part of some lethal-looking experiment involving mysterious radiation. He had to climb a fence with a sign that said "DANGER DON'T COME IN HERE", which he either missed or ignored in desperation to escape the cops. Considering how many superheroes and -villains owe their powers to messed-up experiments, one would think that engineers and scientists have learned to at least put a cover on the damn pit so that enterprising kids and random rabbits don't fall in. There is a fence and a warning sign, but apparently they never got the memo that the Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence only existed in video games.
Even better, the scientists involved in the project did have the foresight to make sure the system warned them if foreign matter appeared inside the sand pit, but then decided that it wasn't worth worrying about. One of them decided that it was probably a bird that would fly off when they started, and told the other one to continue with the experiment.
Seen in the 1984 film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, in the engine room of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Apparently, there's some sort of engine chamber containing radioactive materials, and the only way to enter this chamber is through a revolving door. When Spock goes in to make repairs (with no radiation suit!) he cannot be retrieved for medical treatment because the entire compartment would be flooded with radiation. Justified by the massive battle damage that had caused the leak in the first place. Word of God is that Starfleet had that design there because they figured any ship that damaged was as good as dead anyway.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has this as a plot point. Praxis exploded because the Klingons have No OSHA Compliance. Their mining operations were so extensive and poorly regulated that the whole planet was a powder keg waiting for a spark.
Romulan Space Mining Corp apparently picked up ship design plans from the Republic/Imperial Industrial Design Bureau, specifically Volume 3: "Platforms, No Safety Railings, and Bottomless Chasms". Given justification in the prequel comic, saying the Narada was warped by Borg tech. Also justified in that (1): it was a mining vessel, and probably used the chasms for storage and (2) they are Romulans. With enhanced strength and agility they can quite easily jump from platform to platform, and don't need to worry about falling.
Alternate-timeline Starfleet, on the other hand, makes this token effort to avert the trope in the transporter room: "Caution: Do not enter transporter while transport is in progress." Most people when dealing with a something as absurdly dangerous and volatile as a transporter (which in terms of Starfleet accidents are probably second after the infamous holodeck) would have instituted advanced technology like a door, which would have to be shut before the transporter could be operated.
Though the engineering areas of Federation ships in the movie seem to have plenty of railings and OHSA compliance (they would, since they were filmed in actual factories, like the Budweiser brewery!), there's no clear reason why those super-futuristic warp cores need so much smoke and fire, or why interplanetary shuttlecraft seem to emit so much steam.
In Star Trek: Nemesis. The green shiny glowy thing channeling Thalaron radiation in Shinzon's ship is all open and exposed, allowing anybody to walk right up to it, hand phaser said glowy thing, and blow the ship all to hell.
Some of the hull windows were said to be force fields, but this was in an enclosed maintenance-type area seemingly only accessible via Jeffries tubes and was normally covered by a retractable piece of hull anyway. As it is, force fields are used to seal hull breaches in any case in every series other than Enterprise.
There are some coolant pipes running up from the floor. They are filled with a flesh-melting gas capable of filling quite a good chunk of engineering. The plan involves puncturing one by shooting it. The backup plan has Data... karate-chopping it.
The Terminator: The final fight takes place in a dangerous factory, with Sarah Connor using it as her only weapon.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day averts this, as the smelting factory here has plenty of guardrails, with the only spot without them intended for lowering objects into a vat.
Oddly, Terminator Salvation's factory at the end does have guardrails, even though it's been used for years by robots who would never need them.
The Martian spaceport in the original Total Recall (1990), where the windows protecting the terminal from the near-vacuum outside: a) are not bulletproof, despite the presence of armed guards and agents, b) shatter completely from a handful of bullet holes, making those small holes into one large one, and c) have emergency shutters that must be activated manually, while holding on for dear life as the room rapidly decompresses. And the whole bay over the dome is just as fragile, minus the shutter due to it size.
TRON: The digitizing laser is, for some reason, pointed right at a computer terminal.
In both the film and comic versions of Watchmen someone thought it was a good idea to have a room with what is essentially a disintegrator run on a timer. Meaning the timer automatically closes and locks the door, before activating the machine a bit later. All of this without anyone present to make sure someone doesn't wander through the door, get locked it and vaporized. Apparently there's not even an emergency stop switch anywhere near the machine either. Or, inside the room. And yet, the inability to open the door after the countdown's started? "It's a safety feature." In the comic the font size of the text is intentionally taken down to point out that the scientist himself sees the stupidity of the safety feature.
In Event Horizon, the ship shows The Medic a vision of her son back home to lure her into the bowels of the mechanism. After chasing it up several levels on a ladder, she finally reaches out her hand to take his... and plummets several stories into the engine room, off a darkened ledge with no handrail. To be fair, it may have had a handrail before the ship went to hell and back.
The title city's underground machine rooms in Metropolis fit this trope. Unlike most examples, the fact that the people in charge of the city didn't care about the safety of the workers is a major plot point.
City of Ember: The generator of Ember has catwalks and stairs going above and alongside heavy, dangerous, steam-emitting machinery of all kinds. And the official, government-approved method to escape the city involves hundreds to thousands of people riding a ridiculously dangerous water toboggan on tiny wooden boats that are intended to pass above large water turbines.
Jurassic Park. In both the novel and the film, the park is not ready to be opened to the general public, and in the novel, Hammond is simply too arrogant to really care. In the films, he's too optimistic.
"I told you we needed locking mechanisms on the vehicle doors!" Hammond's much-vaunted automated tour cars can be opened while in motion, and the vehicle does not stop at any point. It could make it incredibly easy for a guest to get lost in the park (with all the environmental hazards this implies), or get run over by another tour car.
There are poisonous — but very pretty! — plants everywhere throughout the facilities, from the Visitor Center landscaping (within reach of guests, including children) to the animal enclosures, where the park's prized dinosaurs could consume them. In the novel, Ellie even lampshades the stupidity of having an incredibly poisonous plant around the pool. This plant is so toxic you can get sick just from touching it.
Electric fences are within quick and easy reach of anyone, from park guests to park personnel. If a park guest gets out of the tour car (see above) there's nothing stopping them from reaching out and grabbing a fence line. Bear in mind that these fences are sufficiently electrified to prevent enormous dinosaurs from breaking through. Guess what happens if a much smaller animal, like a human, touches them. Also, there are security doors to the animal paddocks which have electrified locks on the outside of the door, so anyone wandering the service roads can stumble into them.
And those electronic locks? Can't be operated by hand. One of the most tense scenes near the end of the film becomes ludicrous when the Fridge Logic hits you that a manual deadbolt could have solved the entire "boot up the system/keep out the raptor" dilemma much more easily.
Raptors are loaded into (and presumably, unloaded from) their exclusive pen by means of a large opening at the end of the structure. A cage is then pushed into place so that it opens into this door, spilling its content into the raptor pen. The problems with this are numerous: a) there is no mechanism locking the cage into place and fix it to the door; b) there's no counterweight on the other side of the cage; c) the cage is light enough to be pushed into place by hand; d) the cage door has to be raised by a park worker standing on top of the cage and lifting the door with his own strength and balance — even though the pen is already equipped with a crane for lowering food into it.
No independent, battery-powered emergency lighting anywhere. Not even in the service sheds with the deep, steep staircases leading down into pitch darkness. And we don't mean "flashlights," we mean basic emergency floodlights on walls or ceilings, particularly in vital areas like the control rooms and generator rooms.
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. The power goes out and it seems not a single building in town has emergency lights except the hospital, where they flicker uncontrollably.
Skyline gives us the trusty old "roof door that locks people out on the roof". Roof doors only lock on the inside of the building, to keep people from going out and jumping/falling off. They don't have locks on the outside so people don't get stuck out there.
The higher-ups of Ellingson Mineral Company in Hackers, apparently, think that an oil tanker has no need for manual controls, because computers are much safer. So what happens when a virus gets into the mainframe and is propagated to the tanker computers?
The Plague: The little boat flipped over.
Interestingly, it's one of those higher-ups who suggests puting the ballast under manual conrol before being condescendingly told by The Plague that there's no such thing anymore. Obviously, he wasn't the one who made the decision to go for all-automatic.
The Bloody Hilarious german training video Klaus the Forklift Driver. Actually, the workplace does conform to all safety standards, but the employes keep ignoring the safety rules and the film shows the disastrous conseqences. It must be seen to be believed.
In Let the Right One In, fourth-floor hospital windows can be opened—by the patient from the inside, no less! Shockingly, someone falls to his death. Even in 1980s Europe, windows in hospitals were permanently closed to prevent suicide, or sometimes people getting in.
The Final Destination films might as well have been called No OSHA Compliance: The Movies, considering how many gruesomely-fatal accidents result from a single trivial mechanical glitch.
Averted early in The Incredible Hulk, when Bruce Banner (working at a Brazilian soft drink bottling plant) cuts his finger and immediately has them shut down the production line so he can make sure his blood didn't taint any bottles. Unfortunately, Bruce stops when he sees a blood spatter on the conveyor belt, completely missing the droplet that landed on a bottle and kicks off the main plot by revealing his location to General Ross.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe plays it straight in The Avengers, however. The helicarrier may be a marvel of engineering, but one has to wonder what goes on behind the scenes at SHIELD, since no one seems to have realised that angling the flight deck out over one of the four rotors holding the carrier aloft is an astoundingly bad idea. Of course, we see later on in the film that it is possible to slow down the rotors, and the 'carrier can fly on just three.
The master control room is airtight, and in the event of a power failure, there is no way to open the doors or get fresh air into the room, or to contact the outside world, so everyone dies. Apparently this is standard engineering practice because the staff don't even seem all that surprised by this appalling lack of safety procedures, just frustrated that the power failed.
The concept of Westworld involves giving loaded firearms to ordinary tourists and encouraging them to engage in movie-style gunfights and barroom brawls, with the precaution that the guns won't fire directly at other tourists and the robots won't harm the tourists. These precautions seem totally inadequate! The tourists could cause all sorts of harm by careless handling of firearms even without directly shooting each other. And they could hurt themselves and others quite easily in a brawl, even if the robots don't attack them directly. However, there are possible justifications for this - a small degree of risk may be part of the appeal of Westworld, it is not clear whether it is located in a country with strict safety enforcement, and it is possible there are more safety precautions we are not told about.
In Three Big Men, Evil Spider-Man is gruesomely killed in various ways in a factory, including a printing press, crushed by gears and even ran over by rail carts. SHEESH...
The cult Soviet sci-fi two-parter Moscow — Cassiopeia has the relativistic starship ZARYa crewed by teens due to the length of the journey. The safety features appear to be more or less ok (even the walls on The Bridge are padded in case of sudden acceleration), except for the garbage disposal system. It's a hatch that swivels in the middle as soon as the Big Red Button is pushed, putting the garbage into a large pyramid-shaped transparent container and immediately ejects it into space. It's no surprise when a crewmember (albeit one who sneaks aboard) accidentally gets dumped into space and has to be recovered by The Captain going EVA before Proxima Centauri toasts him.
Elysium: Max's foreman telling people to do really dangerous things like go inside a radiation chamber to fix a door jam or get replaced. Worse still is the fact that said radiation chamber has no emergency shutoff button, not even from the outside. Justified in that OSHA probably doesn't even exist anymore. One particular thing to note is that the radiation chamber, once active, does have sensors to detect if something is in there that shouldn't be. It doesn't turn the chamber off, of course, more like "BTW, you're cooking some dude."
The whole thing is made pretty ironic due to the intercom in the factory constantly blaring on about working safe.
The Film.Lord Of The Rings movies never have handrails on their catwalks and bridges above bottomless pits. This is justified for Sauron's forces, given that the dark lord probably doesn't place much of a worth on a single orc's life, and Sauron himself couldn't be killed by heat or a fall, but that doesn't explain Saruman's ramshackle construction sites.
In The Hobbit, Erebor had some pretty questionable mining practices. The crowning glory has to be the guy who thrusts a red-hot metal nugget into a pair of enormous hammers right above his head. With his hand.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the Fellowship has to cross the bridge of Khazad-dűm in Moria, which is right above a huge chasm with no rails or walls, narrow enough for just one person. It's justified since it's a defensive measure built by the dwarves in case goblins or some one attacked (the attacking army would be forced to go in a single file and at a snail's pace to avoid death, all while you can pelt them with arrows from a safe position.
Some parts of the eponymous factory in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are pretty dangerous. However, in this case the invocation of this trope is likely quite deliberate, given Wonka's complete lack of care for the children constantly getting into horrible accidents all around him.
The Chicago meatpacking industry in Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle. The whole industry, for the record. Not just a single plant. In fact, it was so graphic about things like this, that when President Theodore Roosevelt read it, he had inspectors investigate and found that Sinclair's claims were true. Roosevelt was so enraged that it led to sweeping safety laws and regulations for the meatpacking industry being passed, which eventually led to the creation of the FDA.
One steel manufacturing plant also gets its due. In turn-of-the-century Chicago there are very few non-hazardous industrial jobs, since there are few if any capitalist motives to keep low-level employees safe and healthy; as soon as one worker gets sick or injured there are hundreds if not thousands of desperate immigrants lined up at the factory gates to take his place.
Most of the illustrations of machines and architecture in the works of Dr. Seuss are full of tall, rickety buildings as well as staircases and walkways with no guardrails.
While it's not the site of a fight scene, the titular school of the Wayside School series of books exemplifies this trope. The setting is a 30-classroom school "accidentally" built thirty stories high, and missing a nineteenth story. The school can start to sway as a result of high winds (as per the second novel in the series, Wayside School is Falling Down). The main characters, a class of students on the thirtieth floor, are led onto the rooftop by their teacher. A fire drill is also taking place, and the students believe that no one will be able to rescue them. However, it's only a herd of cows that have somehow managed to get onto every floor of the building. Poor planning, at that.
You can also fall out of the window if you're too close to it and fall asleep. Luckily, the school is so tall that there's plenty of time for Louis the yard teacher to run up and catch you.
Subversion of the inversion of the "No Seat Belts in Star Trek" issue below, in a Deep Space Nine novel: despite shoddy production standards in the future's future (as the Federation is falling apart and the universe is about to end), the new Phoenix features safety restraints on all the bridge chairs. Captain Nog then uses them to restrain the entire bridge crew in preparation to betray them to the Romulans. It's a time-paradox-enabled Gambit Roulette.
Death Star the novel by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry. Bureaucratic incompetence and -slave labor- combines to create a really unsafe Death Star. Are you going to make your evil master's starbase safe?
The architect's character almost always lampshades this when she's shown at work. It's even implied that the station would be even more of a deathtrap without her input.
Subverted in Spinneret: the alien facility that the humans are investigating has nice things like safety interlocks on doors to prevent people from entering hazardous areas. Problem is, humans can't read the warning signs, and interlocks don't help if you're on the wrong side of the door before things are turned on...
The third book of Septimus Heap features a narrow, wobbling bridge without handrails.
The Great Ship series has very little in the way of OSHA compliance - ships and trains will accelerate at a hundred Earth gravities, turning the passengers into what amounts to a bag of blood and bone dust, until the passenger's Healing Factor kicks in.
In Foundation, it is mentioned that "some fool tampered with" a large nuclear plant, and, depending on the edition, either leveled or contaminated half a city. An earlier story featured a badly repaired station doing the same to half a planet.
The issue is averted in Swedish diselpunk novel Iskriget in which Johnny, a protagonist who usually works in a civilian airship, comments negatively on the cramped crew spaces inside a Russian military ice-cruiser.
Harry Potter's Hogwarts is a really unsafe school by any standards. There are many well-known spots, such as a disappearing step, constantly shifting staircases, or the giant murder tree on the grounds, around the castle that nobody bothers to fix or at least warn the students about. Potions is done without even the most basic safety equipment, such as aprons or goggles. Not only does a badly made potion have a chance to explode or get in students' eyes, but also cause massive (painful) growths, catch everything on fire, or turn everybody into cats. That's not even getting into Quidditch, a game played hundreds of feet in the air on sticks of wood that has heat seeking cannon balls trying to knock off students from their brooms. Good thing Madame Pomfrey's magical remedies are enough to handle all but the worst injuries.
It gets a Lampshade as early as the second book, when the school is in danger of being shut down as a result of students getting petrified. Hagrid says that parents expect injuries at Hogwarts, what with all the underage magic going on in there, but that these particular attacks are too dangerous even for their relaxed standards.
Animorphs 26, "The Attack", sees the kids transported to an alien world covered in giant super-structures described as the kind of Lego towers gods would make. They're understandably disturbed by the complete lack of railings, but after Jake uses it to take out a Howler he decides it's "a kind of crazy I could get to like."
Pile-Up from Parellity, a city built by bandits and marauders.
In one scene from the Lensman novel Galactic Patrol, an insane crewmember destroys himself by vaulting his control panel and landing on a series of high-voltage power distribution circuits. Is he in Engineering? No, he's the Navigator/Pilot and he's on the bridge of his ship.
The Doctor Who episode "The End Of The World" features a space station that has a crucial switch on the other side of a rail-less walkway lined up with and directly underneath three giant rapidly spinning propellers. The only safety measure introduced is a lever that when held down simply slows down the propellers allowing passage. Apparently there will still be no safety regulations five billion years in the future.
In the episode "42", the Doctor attempts to recall an escape pod, for which the controls are inexplicably on the outside of the ship. Not only that, the handle is just out of arm's reach.
The first episode "Rose" had an underground location that was two parts OSHA compliance handrails, and the rest definitely NOT OSHA compliant, with a nice platform opening up to the Auton controller's pit.
The TARDIS is an especially egregious example. Any time something goes wrong with its systems, it threatens to destroy anything from an inhabited planet to reality itself, and this happens so often that it was Lampshaded in the "Time Crash" special, with the Doctor observing that the TARDIS's latest hiccup is threatening to create a hole in the universe the size of Belgium and commenting that it's a bit undramatic. One wonders why the Valeyard didn't just haul the Doctor in for violating TARDIS safety regs.
The Tardis was also meant to have a crew of at least six, not one. Presumably a number of said issues stem from a lack of proper maintenance or improper utilization.
Seeing as the Doctor can't even be arsed to turn off the parking brake, it's exceedingly likely that the TARDIS hasn't been in for any regular maintainence since he's had her.
"The Rebel Flesh" opens with someone playfully shoving their co-worker, who is standing on the rim of a vat of acid. Guess what happens.
However, it is somewhat averted at the same time because the workers do not approach the acid in person if they can help it. They instead send in quickly grown clones, who are considered expendable.
Star Trek is the king of unsafe work environments.
In fact, Stardestroyer.net contains an essay (written by an engineer) specifically about the subject. And a small fanfic about a starship designer being tried for non OSHA compliance. Clearly a case of Hypocritical Humor given that Star Wars is just as bad, if not worse, about such things.
Computers explode whenever the ship is hit by weapons fire or an inverse tachyon something or other, even though these computers are just terminals that wouldn't require more power than is needed for basic processing power, a network interface, and display.
There is a real life technical explanation for this. An electrical engineer on a major Trek message board explains the real world reason for "Exploding Consoles of Doom" here. Of course, the engineer seems to be assuming that the consoles are full-blown mainframe computer systems complete with DC power feeds. In reality, they are little more than touchscreen panels for operating systems that reside elsewhere in the ship. Generally-speaking, one does not worry that a PC or an iPad sitting in a charger will explode and send a user hurtling across the room should a bolt of lightning strike their poorly-grounded house.
In one episode of the series Star Trek: The Next Generation Worf is paralyzed when a barrel of some substance, which is stored high above the floor without proper bracing, falls on him. Not only is the design faulty, in allowing such a container to fall (if you must place such an object in such a dangerous place, at least have it held by straps that are strong enough to withstand anything other than the entire room being destroyed, or at least major damage, rather than the minor shake the room was subjected to), but the fact that there was no inquiry into safety measures and procedures after a major injury to a crew member only heightened the unreality of running a Star Fleet in such a manner. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, just that it wasn't seen in the episode, since that would have been boring. Considering that Worf is Klingon, he would be able to take much more punishment than a human. That barrel would probably have killed a member of any other species, with the possible exception of a Vulcan who are comparably tough.
In another episode, Geordi and Data are conducting an experiment on a phaser in engineering. Try and count the number of problems, here. First, they remove several vital monitoring consoles to make room. Then, they conduct the experiment right next to the warp core. Next, the experiment involves firing the weapon through a public area with absolutely no warning signs or caution markers. Finally, the setup requires that the weapon be aimed directly at Data, who stands behind a sensor in the path of the beam. It just goes on and on.
The Honor Harrington series, which has many Trek references, repeatedly shows what would really happen if "inertial compensators" failed even momentarily on a ship traveling a good portion of light speed; everyone in the ship gets turned into "strawberry jam". Minor structural damage.
Federation starships explode if someone sneezes in their general direction. It was stated in one first-season episode of Next Generation that the ship could be destroyed by one man in the engine room with a hand weapon (and it almost happened!). The exposed warp core is because of Rule of Cool in set design. Avoided on some ships (e.g. Defiant-class), which are actually MEANT for shooting stuff as their main purpose rather than one of the things they can do, where they have a force field surrounding their warp core.
Depending on the setting needed on the hand weapon, this might not be a major failure. The whole standard 1 shot disintegration is setting 6 of 16. If you need 15 or 16, or the overload setting, then that's using an antitank gun on the core. I'm fairly sure using an anti-tank weapon directly on the core of an aircraft carrier reactor would cause bad things as well.
A sane design would isolate the reactor to its own area, not place it in the control room! People are killed needlessly every time the thing springs a leak. There's a reason nuclear reactors aren't designed this way.
Think about this for a moment. The casing of the warp core is only a couple of metres in diameter, yet is sufficiently tough to be able to withstand a continuous matter-antimatter annihilation going on inside that is millions of times more energetic than the biggest nuclear reactor ever conceived, but it can be breached with a basic standard-issue firearm from the outside. Said weapon can release similar amounts of energy to a small army.
The Enterprise-E also got a force field for their warp core. It failed the second the ship was fired upon!
When the term "warp core breach" was first introduced (in TNG: "Contagion"), it was explicitly justified as an event which was vanishingly rare and astonishing due to all the failsafes, and coming about only because a computer virus caused total systems failure (leaving one to wonder where their physical safeguards were). But once the show's writers learned that "core breach = danger," they began invoking core breaches more and more often and the vanishing rarity of the event was forgotten.
Made particularly laughable by them introducing the idea that by the TNG era the warp core is ejectable in the event that it starts to explode, but the ejection systems somehow always fail. According to the behind-the-scenes technical manuals this is particularly egregious given that the warp core ejection system is based on electromagnets holding the core in place, and requires power to not work. Think about that next time you see Geordi or Data say "ejection systems are offline"!
Geordi and Data often perform experiments involving hazardous materials in Engineering. Not only that, the only separation between them and the material is a container (which always breaks) and a force field (that just barely holds).
Deep Space Nine had many scenes set on the multilevel Promenade. The second floor safety railings went from two bars to one. Neither setting stopped people from falling over and dying (though Jake and Nog got scolded a lot for hanging over them). The elevator to the control center/bridge had no safety cage!
Also, nearly all entrances of the space station have a raised piece needlessly causing people to trip. This was lampshaded at least once by a woman from a low gravity planet who needs load lifting machines outside of her suit and a cane to walk around.
More or less justified by the fact that the Cardassians couldn't care less about personal safety standards.
Holodeck Malfunctions. Statistically, these Virtual Injury/Death Traps have to be at least as dangerous as the Borg, Klingons or Romulans. Despite 'Safety Protocols', these suffer from frequent Failsafe Failure, or better yet, are often disabled by the Senior Officers, leading to the either the main characters being A) trapped B) injured or killed C) nearly injured or killed D) The Near Destruction of the Enterprise. However, despite clear evidence that even entering one of these things about as safe as playing Russian roulette with 5 bullets, IT IS NEVER TAKEN OFF-LINE. At the very least you would expect to see a Sign warning 'Enter at your own risk', or 'Safety Protocols Subject to Frequent Random Failures' etc. Evidently The Federation has no Product Liability Laws. That, or they sign the waivers off-screen. Almost a Trope unto itself, similar to the equally dangerous and unpredictable 'Teleporter Malfunction'.
It's rather remarkable that if holodecks existed today they would probably be classified as "thrill rides" due to the potentially exciting nature of the content available. Thrill rides require an operator to watch the ride and stop it in an emergency - even mundane kid's rides! Holodecks have no such thing - the computer doesn't even stop the simulation when it renders a bullet which could kill a user and then fires that bullet at a user!
There's also the matter of characters purposefully turning off the safety protocols in the holodeck. The first time we see this (TNG's Descent) the computer says that to disable the safety protocols requires the authorization of at least two senior officers and warns about the danger. By Voyager Seven of Nine was able to disable the safety protocol by herself with a vocal command, no authorization needed, no warning from the computer. In addition you would think the system would notify someone that the safety protocols have been disabled given how dangerous the holodeck can be, yet in another Voyager episode B'Elanna Torres was able to engage in various Death Seeker activities with the safeties off and the crew was none the wiser. They only found out by actively searching through the holodeck records after B'Elanna had seriously injured herself.
In an unusual tip of the cap to capitalism, Quark's privately-owned holosuites on Deep Space Nine never endangered anyone's life, and in fact actually saved the lives of the crew in one episode by storing their mental patterns. This is quite sensible, really, since even the greediest Ferengi have to know that killing customers is bad for business. Its usual application appears to be variations on 'brothel' with much fewer potentially dangerous programs, but there were definite exceptions like the battle scenarios that O'Brien and Bashir favored.
It was also used by a visiting Klingon veteran who wanted to relive a key battle in Klingon history. Strangely, he doesn't appear to mind the safety features, even though a Klingon should laugh in the face of danger.
Voyager takes this to eleven, then goes to idiotic extremes so it seams that the ship was designed to kill its crew before anything else. Manual door overrides don't work when there isn't power. The only system in the ENTIRE ship that has its own power supply (that is incompatible with the rest of the ship, somehow) isn't the important things like the shields, weapons, or replicators, but the Holodecks (which always where trying to kill the crew as well), in a laughable plot contrivance to allow holodeck episodes to still happen even though power conservation is essential for a ship decades away from proper resupply facilities. Never even remotely explained is how the holodeck's power source can possibly be incompatible with the replicators, given that all holodecks have built-in replicators. Most of the ship wiring is "gel packs," living tissues that they only have a very limited supply of (and can't replicate nor actually grow, missing the one benefit that a biological system would have over a metallic one) that once was poisoned by Neelix's cooking. The one time the ship wasn't on the edge of exploding was when an enemy shot out the "secondary command modules," preventing Janeway from having the ship self destruct when it was boarded (and the computer only informed her of this fact AFTER she tried to initiate a self destruct).
In the same episode as Neelix poisoning the gel packs, the resultant malfunctions were so bad that the manual override on doors weren't working. This is something that shouldn't happen given manual overrides are usually unconnected with the system they're overriding.
In an early episode of Star Trek: Enterprise ("Unexpected"), Tucker notes the elevator handrail is a few inches away form a support beam, meaning if someone would to put their hand on it then it would take their fingers clean off. The Red Shirt he's telling this to replies "Why would someone put their hands on it?" Yes, that's right, you're not supposed to use the handrail. Made worse by the fact it was meant to just be Tucker being all hormonal because he's pregnant (long story).
In the episode "Acquisition" there are two examples: the (unnamed on screen) Ferengi have slipped a canister of knock out gas aboard the Enterprise, which successfully knocks out the crew within minutes without any sort of containment system kicking in, even ones you'd expect on a space ship for a pressure loss emergency. Meanwhile Tucker is unaffected inside the decontamination chamber, but after the gas dispels he is perfectly able to hotwire the chamber door mechanism from the inside. Not a great idea to have the wiring to the door mechanism available to the potentially infectious occupants.
Well, Trip is the ship's Chief Engineer. It's likely no one else knows how to do it. Still doesn't justify it, though.
A low-key example: Jeffries Tubes. Small, enclosed places with limited access and lined with power conduits and other forms of dangerous technology. More often than not, the crewman working in the conduit will be alone without a spotter or any form of safety equipment beyond their communicator. Enclosed space violations like this are one of OSHA's lesser known pet peeves.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 commented on this trope when the guys riffed on the South African sci-fi flick Space Mutiny, pointing out the numerous "railing kills" during the movie. One of the host segments takes the gag a step further, with Servo installing railings all over the Satellite of Love in order to meet OSHA safety standards. Although at least one of them is a "whisper-quiet, spinning, spiked railing," which doesn't sound very safe.
And so as not to make the newly-installed railings useless, Servo also installs some holes to put railings around. Mike inevitably trips over a railing and falls into the hole.
In The X-Files episode "Beyond the Sea," the climactic chase scene takes place in an abandoned brewery that is falling apart. One of the villains steps through a wooden plank bridge and falls several stories to his death.
In "Roland", there is no emergency shutdown in either the test chamber or the control room except for the enter key on the control computer.
Lampshaded and defied in That Mitchell and Webb Look, where a generic Evil Overlord wants to install a Trap Door underneath a chair, as per the cliché. However, the contractor he hires to do the job insists on following all the requisite safety protocols. When the boss decides one of his minions has failed him, he flips the switch: railings rise from the floor to block off the area, a red siren descends from the ceiling and a voiceover announces that Trapdoor 4 is about to open, and gives a countdown. Eventually, the intended victim figures it out and leaves. In other sketches with the same characters, the bad guy tries to have a Bookcase Passage and a revolving fireplace put in, both of which are either impossible to build or require lots of visible warning signs which would be less theatrical than what the villain wants.
Cmdr Henderson: Why would anything on this ship have to be so high?
Stargate variously plays straight and averts this with the gates themselves. The gates have some built in safety measures, but the splash when they activate is very dangerous, and the danger zone is almost never marked off. Also, the gate will happily splat you against a barrier at the far end or dump you into vacuum with no warning. And most users go through without checking conditions on the far side first. The Air Force mostly averts the trope with several added safety features and probes to check out unknown gate addresses.
Also averted by the fact that, while the gate system has several checks in place to make sure that the other end is safe, Stargate Command lacked a critical piece of the original gate technology and had to reverse-engineer the protocol, missing several of the safety messages.
It's also been mentioned in at least one episode that the SGC (or at least, Carter) will sometimes override safety protocols built into the Stargate itself. It's a wonder Carter never stopped to ask herself why the safety protocol had to be overridden.
Stargate Universe has the space ship Destiny which actually has many safety features but the ship is so old and damaged that the crew has to override or bypass them all the time to get the ship working. Often enough this gets someone hurt or killed.
The ship computer locks out stargate addresses it deems unsafe. Two scientists who override the lock are never seen again after they step through the gate.
Some of the safety features are designed to protect the ship even if it would put a crewmember in danger. The ship will not let you override the lock on a pressure door if it is passing through a sun at the moment.
Wraith Hive-ships in Stargate Atlantis have fairly thin walkways above giant chasms with nary a guard rail in sight. Partly justified in that the Wraith don't really care about warriors (who are apparently just easily-replaceable drones) falling to their deaths, but their commanders might also fall. Additionally, their "scoop" beams deposit people on any location without checking if it's safe first. Sheppard restored people stored in the buffer (several of whom are his) on one of the above-mentioned walkways with a few of the baddies materializing off the walkway. Naturally, gravity immediately takes over.
That could just be because Sheppard can't read Wraith tech, and wouldn't know if it was warning him not to use the scoop beam. In any case, it's his fault for doing it blind.
For the Travelers, No OSHA Compliance is just everyday life. A spacefaring people without the resources to build new ships, it's all they can do to keep the ships they do have at a functional level. Normally that means improvising repairs with salvaged parts and pushing their technology well past its intended parameters. It's a good day if they can get something to work at all; making sure it works safely is optional.
The House episode "Emancipation" started with a factory manager collapsing right on top of a conveyor belt headed towards a metal stamping press and only avoided being squashed because someone pressed the stop button in the nick of time. You'd think they'd have guard rails around the thing.
The bridge of the biomech spaceship Lexx is a platform jutting out above a 100-story chasm. Many, many guest stars fall to their deaths here. No, there isn't so much as a guardrail. Justified because the Cluster, where it was built, has little to no concern for human life. You have to pay for tardiness with your own organs, for Christ's sake.
In the original Battlestar Galactica, after much trial and error the Cylon fighters realize they can do more damage to the capital ship by crashing into it than by shooting. They succeed in setting fire to the flight deck, causing much panic before someone remembers that they're in space and can just pump in some vacuum from outside. The problem? This will kill the civilians unless bulkheads can be closed to contain the fire. Where is the switch for the bulkheads? On the outside surface of the ship. Who is the technical crew assigned to performing a dangerous EVA to throw the switch? The two senior combat pilots. One comments on the urgency of their task, to which the other responds, "I know, that's why I disconnected our safety tethers, they'll only slow us down."
Lampshaded in Farscape, after the (admittedly scavenged) Zelbion defence shield explodes, Crichton shouts "Haven't you people ever heard of FUSES?!" And the walkways leading to Pilot's den don't have railings. Yes, this has resulted in at least two lethal falls.
The Ice Road Truckers spinoff IRT: Deadliest Roads demonstrates real life examples of this on the high-altitude roads of India and Bolivia. One-lane roads with no guardrails, 1000+ foot dropoffs, and tight spots where it's nearly impossible to get through without the dirt crumbling beneath at least one tire, are distressingly common. And that's to say nothing of the near-suicidal local drivers that our heroes encounter.
The original show averts this with a passion, showing all the various safety equipment and procedures the drivers must have, size limits on cargo (with extra wide ones labelled even though it is blindly obvious), and either the fines the drivers face when the safety procedures are ignored, or the crashed trucks. Driving a semi across the ice roads of Alaska and Canada is an inherently dangerous job, but they take every precaution to manage the risks.
Six Feet Under The 1st season dough mixer accident seems far-fetched; there simply should have been more safety precautions on a piece of industrial equipment like that.
A CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode had the team investigating a crime at a restaurant and learn of the cooking staff's strange customs. The one about flicking blood around the kitchen whenever any of the staff cut themselves particularly appalls Catherine and Grissom as being ridiculously unsanitary, "Hasn't anyone heard of HIV?"
The reality TV show Bar Rescue centers around hospitality industry expert Jon Taffer turning around failing bars. Some of these bars have sanitation and/or structural issues that make them just plain dangerous to be in for customers and staff alike.
It is explicitly stated that the titular warehouse in Warehouse13 does not have OSHA compliance. With MC Escher as one of the designers, this is a given.
That being said, a reasonable amount of precaution is taken. Artifacts are stored in a way that makes them unlikely to activate, away from ones they would negatively react with, and the super dangerous ones are kept even more secure. The agents know they should never touch them, and the warehouse is built in a mountain away from the populace so locals won't wander into it. The general populace also think it's an IRS warehouse, so they really keep their distance.
Averted briefly in Pawn Stars, where Rick refused to buy a "corn chucker" because it had an open hole that led right to the gears of the things, and the shop could be sued if a kid put a hand in it.
In the period dramaBomb Girls, it is mentioned that some of the girl's hair colors have changed due to working with chemicals in the munitions factory.
Made In Canada has a no CCOHSnote Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety compliance example in the episode "Alan's New Studio". The studio in question is built in a converted battery factory. There is no air conditioning, passing trains frequently cause the whole building to shake (ruining sound recording), flakes of asbestos and a mysterious black substance constantly rain down from the ceiling, and one room holds dozens of barrels of chemical waste. Spending just a few hours in the building causes the main characters' hair to start falling out.
Veronica: What do you mean you don't care!? This place practically buzzes! You'll come out of the studio more tan than when you went in! Victor: Actors look good with a little colour on their face! Veronica: Not cobalt blue!
In Exalted this is the unintentional design ethos of Autochthon, the Primordial "god" of technology and progress. Machines practically worship him and are incapable of hurting him, so it never occurs to him to bother with even the most basic safety features. He just doesn't realize that rapidly spinning razor sharp gears, giant slamming pistons, huge arcs of lightning, deadly steam vents, and whipping monofilaments are dangerous to other people. His creations are all of impeccable quality and quite unlikely to break, but he makes no attempts at safety for humans users. Autochthon's inhabited interior isn't any safer.
Paranoiatabletop role-playing game: Life in the dystopianAlpha Complex is a daily struggle against insane regulations, faulty or untested equipment and impossible odds for most clones (against their fellow clones). Especially if they happen to fall into the food vats. Remember, citizen, happiness is mandatory. The Computer is your friend.
Not only justified but actively encouraged in Paranoia. Since The Computer is responsible for everything, questioning safety measures means you are questioning The Computer. Which is treason.
Not bringing potentially dangerous working conditions to the attention of Friend Computer is also treason, but that's a different trope.
Spelljammer setting has "Accelerator", Magitek cannon that pulls into the barrel and shoots anything placed on its reception cup. Which specifically included a torn off hand of any poor sod who failed to drop ammo accurately, or just stumbled and accidentally grabbed the cup.
Some of the artwork for Warhammer 40,000 utterly embraces this trope (as do certain game mechanics - for example, every tank is a Sherman), in the name of the Rule of Cool. Oddly averted in-universe however, as the Adeptus Mechanicus do follow safety instructions.
They don't seem to think too much about people tripping on the exposed cables they leave all over the floor in every single piece of art they appear in, though. Repeatedly lampshaded in the Ciaphas Cain series.
Depending on your average tech priest, Machine Safety may mean making things safe for their operators or making things safe for the machines. Securing the obligatory giant industrial fan may mean putting a grating on top of it... or making it strong enough that it can shear through a human falling into it without ceasing to work.
The freeware RPG Ara Fell takes place on a floating continent, and there are sheer drop-offs EVERYWHERE, all without guard-rails, to the distant land below, including in the starting village. Even some houses have huge holes in their floors dropping off to the world below.
The "Grunty Industries" level of Banjo-Tooie is a giant five-story factory full of dangerous exposed machinery such as giant crushers, frayed wires, exposed grinders, entire floors covered with acid, and air vents full of slime creatures that fart toxic gas. It wouldn't look so bad outside if it weren't surrounded by a moat of purple slime full of hungry mutants.
The first game also had Rusty Bucket Bay, which was just as dangerous. For starters, the water outside drowns you on the surface. Its engine room is full of rotating walkways, giant exposed gears, and other dangerous machinery. And this is all located above toxic water with no guardrails.
Witchyworld, a rundown, decrepit theme park with broken, dangerous rides and deranged employees that will attack anyone on sight.
Donkey Kong 64 had Frantic Factory, which seemed to be a toy factory, complete with wind-up crocodile robots, killer dominoes, dice, blocks and rulers.
All Donkey Kong Country factories to be honest. Kremkroc Industries in the first had the rather perilous Blackout Basement, where the lights went on and off every few seconds, the second had open vats of what seemed like liquid metal, and a freaking off screen sniper aiming at anyone trying to enter, and Returns has similar dangers to those in the last games plus a area only traversable via ROCKET. Which happens to be straight through the heavy machinery. Also, few hand rails at all, if any.
The Factory area of Beyond Good & Evil, though inhabited by the Army, would be decidedly unsafe without them. Among other things, it contains rows of grills that do nothing but spew flames, unrailed catwalks several stories above pools of water, substantial rat infestations, and more than a few platforms over pits that would certainly be death if not for Edge Gravity. The Slaughterhouse area, set inside a similar factory area, is equally non-OSHA-compliant.
Lampshaded in Mass Effect 2'sLair of the Shadow Broker DLC when Shepard notes that the Shadow Broker's ship doesn't have any guardrails in a perpetual storm that has high-velocity winds.
Even the second Normandy falls into this with the reactor-core having no discernible blast-door, so in the case of a power-surge or overload, the heat-sinks can discharge and end up incinerating people, which one of your squadmates finds out if you didn't upgrade the shields. Even worse, the upper level of the core has windows that lead directly into the crew quarters.
The reactor venting problem comes up in an almost comical fashion in the third game: not only do the Alliance techs spot the potential malfunction immediately (and slap armour plate over the windows), Engineer Adams is able to create a permanent fix in his spare time with a thousand credits worth of partsnote Guess Cerberus felt the leather seats were a more important use of their funds. He mentions that Cerberus just doesn't care about personnel safety, as if we needed more proof of that.
Oddly enough, the second Normandy also doesn't have anything like a flight of stairs for the crew to reach the bridge even though the first Normandy didnote and its value was made clear at the start of the game when Shepard used the stairs to save Joker. As far as can be told the only way to get to it from the other decks is an incredibly slow elevator or a very small and cramped ladder at the back of the science labs. One has to wonder if the reason why the crew was so easily killed and captured by the Collectors was in part because of the awful interior design.
The quarian ship Alarei did this deliberately, as Tali's father intentionally ignored safety rules for the sake of the experiments. However they made an even bigger error that was never addressed by giving the Geth access to the same computers that controlled the ship instead keeping them on computers isolated from it.
The Spire map in Halo: Reach is a large tower designed by the Covenant. Problem with this is, the exterior balcony, which runs the perimeter of the building on the top level, has no handrails. Many a Epic Fail has occurred in this area.
Funnily enough, there is exactly ONE Forerunner structure with guardrails in Halo 4. They line the path to the elevator in the level "Reclaimer", during which there is nothing around to hurt you. In all the other more dangerous areas, this trope is played straight.
The lack of such safety features on Forerunner structures is Justified however: Forerunners wore advanced armor (some Rates like Lifeworkers and Promethean Warrior-Servants, who were the primary inhabitants of most Forerunner installations encountered so far, even wore armor that allowed them to float) which would negate any clumsiness,, and Forerunner security systems were more than capable of snatching anyone who fell mere seconds afterward.
Most areas, particularly industrial areas, in the Crusader games fall under this trope, but seeing as how safety precautions would cut into profits, the WEC naturally aren't interested in them.
Admittedly, Maniac Mansion's Dr. Fred is trying to Take Over the World with a brainwashing device, not run a legitimate business, but he still uses a nuclear reactor to power his machine. Did I mention that he was on a severely limited budget when he built his reactor, and so he had to install it in the basement of his house, while using his swimming pool to cool the fuel rods? No wonder it's so easy for the reactor to blow up if it overheats because the pool is drained, or if it short-circuits because somebody just turned off the power.
In Day Of The Tentacle Dr. Fred has a machine that does nothing except produce toxic waste, because other mad scientists would laugh at him for running clean experiments. This ends up setting off the entire plot.
In Donkey Kong, a construction site could be transformed into a maze of death traps by one escaped gorilla jumping up and down on the girders.
Doom: Barrels of toxic waste strewn all over the place. And the pits of toxic waste, later lava, and blood. The Radiation Suit entry in the Doom II strategy guide calls this trope out almost word-for-word: "OSHA may not like it, but to get the job done, you're going to have to handle a little toxic waste."
Mocked(?) by the Doom comic, when the Marine falls into a vat of toxic waste. He then climbs out and gives an out-of-nowhere full panel monologue about the world we're leaving for our children.
Deconstructed in Doom 3. Even during the friendly introduction to the facility, numerous people complain about the dangerous conditions and complete lack of safety standards in their working environment. Somewhat lampshaded by the automatic announcement that the UAC "cares about the safety of its employees".
There's a room that is sealed off because radiation levels are too high. In order to pass through this room, you need to play a minigame in which you pick up barrels of toxic waste with a crane and drop them into an incinerator. This is ironically the most OSHA-compliant room in the entire game. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), on the other hand, would probably want a word with you.
This tends to happen a lot when making large buildings, either far above ground or above one of the nigh-bottomless pits underground. Dwarves don't need handrails or safety ropes; as long as they have their four square feet of stairwell to stand on, they're perfectly capable of constructing buildings with their bare hands... unless they get into a fight for whatever reason and dodge the wrong way, in which case they are likely to fall to their deaths.
During development, the ability to make minecarts go flying off ramps (and smack into each other mid-air) was implemented before the ability to have Dwarves ride them. Later work made it possible to do both... resulting in a Dwarf riding on a flying minecart having a fistfight with a Goblin on a ledge as he sails by.
F.E.A.R. 2 seems to mostly avert this trope; Armacham Technology Corporation may not have many qualms with destroying peoples' minds and turning them into violent, mindless abominations and mass-cloning people whose only purposes are to act as obedient soldiers with no free will of their own, but at least they ensure that their employees work under safe conditions. The player can find numerous intelligence items which warn employees of proper safety protocols when transporting aforementioned abominations to their cells, the walkways used for traversing the company's Elaborate Underground Base have many rails to prevent people from falling off, and when live-fire tests are being conducted with the Replica soldiers, personnel without high security clearance are not allowed near.
By contrast, the Origin Facility in First Encounter Assault Recon. Pits with low handrails (if they're there at all), exposed machinery, electrical circuits out in the open... Armacham certainly cut their budget on safety there. Multiple areas which would be difficult to even work in, much less be safe in. One of the worst examples is the cleaning closet with one door that opens onto an elevator shaft, and another that opens onto a standard office area. Both doors are unlocked.
The first level of the original F.E.A.R. game had employee information signs that read: "Remember it's Quantity, Quality, Safety, in that order."
The Black Mesa facility in Half-Life would never have passed a safety inspection, even before the aliens invaded. In fact, the opening of the game features a cinematic sequence wherein protagonistGordon Freeman passes by an open pool of spilled toxic waste on his way to work in the morning, and only one person is working to clean it up. This is somewhat lampshaded however, as during this part the player hears a public announcement which ironically reminds personnel to beware of toxic waste. Most of these issues (at least the ones regarding level design) are averted in Black Mesa, the Fan Remake.
Mentioned in episode one of the YouTube series "Freeman's Mind." Gordon remarks that "The EPA is going to tear us apart if they find out about this."
The waste pit gets cleaned up in Opposing Force. Unfortunately, considering what the rest of the facility looks like, it's probably being flushed into the toxic waste river in the original game.
The whole game would have been a whole lot shorter without this trope. Another quote from "Freeman's Mind," this time episode 6:
I'm not really sure I wanna be going down into the center of the Earth. But then, I don't see an emergency exit!
"Somewhere, some manager is feeling like less of a man unless he buys more turret guns." And a few seconds later, "At least its non-discriminatory in what it shoots at. All the more reason not to have them in the first place!"
It's a recurring joke in the series. In every episode, Freeman always complains when he runs into something that really shouldn't fall apart and/or explode, but does anyway, encounters "security" turrets that are designed to shoot anybody on sight, and runs into rooms with architecture and design that just doesn't make any sense at all. He blames it all on the fact that Black Mesa was built and designed by the lowest bidder.
There's also the giant metal fan blade which has an on/off switch underneath it....meaning the user has to activate it and then climb up through the spinning blades before they start going too fast.
Jesus Christ, that could have taken my head off! Who the fuck designed this? How are you supposed to turn it on without dying? HOW ARE YOU EVEN SUPPOSED TO TURN IT OFF?
One of the hazards in the first game is a wet floor which leads right into an elevator shaft simply left open for service. Amusingly, it even has a warning sign about the floor being slippery. You could excuse the elevator being left open due to all the monsters, but not when there's a wet floor.
This is subverted, however, in the sequel. The malevolent force known as the Combine have conquered and stripped entire worlds, and are in the process of turning ours into a giant, barren death camp — but they go out of their way to put helpful little warning signs on their machinery of doom. ("Please keep your hands away from the headcrab launcher.")
Also the name of an achievement for killing enemies with a crane.
Parodied in Iji, where Tasen logbooks contain reports of lifts causing their users being thrown through the ceiling and complaints about the lack of doors near said lifts, while Komato logbooks describe various life-threatening sports games.
Most of the Jak and Daxter games succumb to this eventually, but the biggest example has to be the Fortress in Jak II, which includes such things as an Awesome but Impracticalsecurity tank, an insane array of turrets, lightning doors, half-pipes with lightning arcs moving along them, and deep pits with absolutely no railings, anywhere. Including those you have to jump over in order to reach the door.
Which can be done to other players in multiplayer mode as well, although they can use force pull to drag you along with them.
In Jedi Outcast there are two levels (one on a space station, another on a spaceship) where the player can deactivate the energy shields which keep hangars pressurized. The result? All enemies in the hangar immediately go flying out to meet their swift, unexpected, horrific and honestly quite amusing deaths. But in retrospect, you'd think there would be some kind of deliberate delay time between the pushing of the button and the dropping of the shields, allowing time for people to evacuate the hangar, preventing exactly this sort of thing from happening.
Actually, there is a delay, at least in the spaceship level - because there are huge metal shutters there in addition to the shields. Of course, the mooks don't tend to use that quite obvious opportunity, but that's a different trope.
Also there is a level where the player has to reprogram the communications system. For that 3 Glyphs have to be set. You would think that this involves pressing buttons on a console. Actually, no. On imperial ships it involves jumping, using force jump, over a bottomless pit, from bridge without rails to bridge without rails. One wonders how imperial com techs go about reprogramming the com system, or is force jump a prerequisite of manning the com room.
Well, there are plenty of jetpacks and repulsor platforms in the SW verse.
And again in Star Wars Battlefront, this is one of the few ways to kill an unkillable Jedi (or enemy, or yourself if you aren't careful). Many battlefields have pits or platforms with no railings, and it only takes one grenade or missile to send scores of hapless foes (and a pesky Jedi) flying off to their dooms.
The Force Unleashed was pretty bad about this also. So.. we have a 10,000 foot drop, boxes right next to the edge, and men running everywhere? Take out the railings! Seriously. You wonder why Storm Troopers are so bad at their jobs, it's hard to have morale when you plummet into the void of space when you misstep.
The eponymous colony spaceship in Marathon was supposed to hold settlers for a period of a good 200 odd years on a voyage to Tau Ceti and it was made from one of Mars' moons, so it's not like they were desperate for space. For example, the craft features a shaft of multiple elevators... that crush you on the ceiling if you are too slow to jump to the next one... and it is the only way up. Narrow, rail-less bridges over deep pits. A series of platforms that must be lined up in the right order, with the switches a long trek away from the room. And a trash compactor with a secret door that must be negotiated. Then again, the AI responsible for doors and other minor stuff is Rampant at the time.
The original 2D Ninja Gaiden games were full of this, featuring temples, castles, fortresses, and sometimes parts of New York City that could only be traversed by ninjas or people with wings. No wonder most of the enemies just pace back and forth in the same spot.
Lampshaded by Nintendo Power in their Ninja Gaiden II strategy guide. The guide specifically states that the Tower of Lahja wasn't built for humans to get anywhere past the entrance.
Oddworld. In approximate order: meat saws, live high-voltage open electrical arcs, trapdoors, trigger-happy guards, live explosives sitting on the floor, grenade dispensers, falling carcasses, more live explosives, snipers, hungry livestock, flying live explosives, horrendously aggressive guard dogs, more (dormant) explosives with 2 second timers and oversized arming buttons, kennels full of dozens of the aforementioned guard dogs, more guards with grenades, brew machines that give you explosive gas, drills running across passageways, crazed guards with motion detectors and lethal tasers. And no railings, no safety guards, no stairs, no ramps (climbing up ledges is required), and bottomless pits everywhere, natch. "Only 1,236 work-related accidents this month! Keep up the good work!" Not only is the facility mind-numbingly dangerous, the CorruptCorporateExecutives are outright planning to kill and market their workers' dead corpses as snack cakes.
The future in which Oni takes place seems to have plenty of factories with catwalks above vats of corrosive chemicals, air treatment facilities in which a wrong step results in a thousand-feet drop (picture thin, extremely long metal planks with no railings whatsoever suspended over an endless black void), power plants with electrified floors...
Portal's Aperture Science Enrichment Center is mostly an intentional Death Course, but even the behind-the-scenes parts seem out for blood. After all, it was run by researchers who decided it would be a good idea to empower a malevolent AIMaster Computer to release a deadly neurotoxin throughout the facility. The lack of safety of the testing environments themselves is lampshaded repeatedly by GLaDOS.
All subjects intending to handle high-energy gamma leaking portal technology must be informed that they may be informed of applicable regulatory compliance issues. No further compliance information is required or will be provided, and you are an excellent test subject! The Enrichment Center promises to always provide a safe testing environment. In dangerous testing environments, the Enrichment Center promises to always provide useful advice. For instance, the floor in here will kill you. Try to avoid it.
Portal 2 takes this several steps farther. It's justified in the first chapters by the deteriorated state of the Enrichment Center an unspecified number of years after the original game, and to her credit, GLaDOS cleans the place up fairly nicely once she's reactivated. However, test subjects remain exposed to deadly drops, lethally toxic water, high power lasers, and energy fields that, in "semi-rare cases", may vaporize parts of the subject's anatomy.
Things get worse when the player visits the old Aperture Science labs deep in the bowels of the facility. Cave Johnson, founder of Aperture Science, takes extra care to point out in his recorded messages that safe science is for wusses, and it becomes apparent that the test protocols and materials handling procedures developed by the company resulted in the death of dozens, if not hundreds of test subjects and a significant chunk of Aperture's own personnel. It's clear that even if they had somehow managed to market their inventions successfully, the resulting lawsuits would have been beyond epic.
The final chapters of the game take the Death Course aspect Up to Eleven, but it's justified there in that the AI now running the place is a complete idiot with no concept of proper test design and, at the end, is in fact trying to kill you.
This is also lampshaded in one of the deep down levels of the complex when an office has a notice instructing employees to alert their supervisor if they see various authorities. The very first one on the list is an OSHA inspector.
Warning! Neurotoxin pressure has reached dangerously unlethal levels!
Prey is based almost entirely in an enemy Death Star-like planetoid. This place is actually inhabited by the aliens, so they would have an interest in making it at least somewhat safe. Instead it's full of high drops, deadly machinery, gravity-altering devices that have no regard over the height someone will suddenly find himself when they're activated, and more.
Justified in some levels of Psychonauts, because it all represents the fractured state of the minds that Raz enters. Although Ed Teglee's mental architects are pretty good about installing and maintaining railings, in places where people are meant to go (the really high ledges, you're still on your own).
Resident Evil series, especially The Very Definitely Final Dungeon areas. The people who designed these labs or factories were obviously out of their gourds. Passage to laboratory guarded by boulder death traps? Check. Flimsy library balcony? Check. Security door requiring four hidden chess pieces? Check. Open vat of molten iron? Check. Lower laboratory floor that can only reached by a long ladder next to a giant plant? Check. Gauntlet of leaking steam pipes? Check. Waste treatment room that locks employees in? Check. Then again, Spencer was an insane aristocrat, so it might make sense.
The most bizarre example yet has to go to Resident Evil 0 and the Ecliptic Express' emergency braking system: You need to have one person run all the way from the locomotive to the caboose and key in an arithmetic puzzle, then have the other person stay behind and wait for a signal from the first, then key in another arithmetic puzzle in order to stop the train. It bears repeating that this is required to activate the emergency brake. As in, "for use in emergencies." Just try and figure out how that's supposed to work: "Jenkins, we have to stop this train at once or hundreds will die when it derails! Quick, get me a #2 pencil and some scratch paper! No, you fool! That #6 is for sketching! I said a #2, dammit!"CRASH!!
The exposed vats of molten liquids make a return in Resident Evil 4, where you're encouraged to dispatch mooks with them.
Averted obnoxiously in Resident Evil 5 with the Ouroburos missile facility. It has handrails everywhere, several of which you'd really want your characters to simply vault because they block the direct route to the exit. Also played horribly straight in the same factory given the exposed conveyer belts transporting barrels of explosive material everywhere, several of which you MUST cross to work your way to the exit. Both 4 and 5 are justified, however, by their out of the way locations, brainwashed workers, and We Have Reserves style villains.
Resident Evil 6 has it's moments again though. The final battle against Ustanak takes place in a giant lava pit in a research facility deep under the sea, the thermal energy of which being used to power the facility. Despite it's important role, over this giant lava pit are only flimsy metal walkways with absolutely no railings and several fragile pipes filled with lava. Several of these walkways are few mere feet away from the lava pool surface. And you have to navigate it while being chased by the aforementioned boss. Fun.
Lampshaded in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. A memo in an airbase brags about the installation of railings around ladders, and the subsequent decrease in accidents (these were probably installed only because RtCW's ladders, like those in nearly every FPS, would be practically unusable without them).
Only some of the game's ladders have such railings, most do not, and are indeed nearly unusable, adding much Fake Difficulty to the game.
Shadows of the Empire for the N64 asks us to believe the Rebels forgot to install safety railings for much of the basement level of their Hoth base. And it's just one bar where there are railings. Cue Stormtroopers falling to a hideous death when blasted...
The Imperials aren't much better, with their various installations on Gall built right into cliff faces, expecting personnel to use the existing, highly dangerous walkways along the cliff to get between them.
Justified in System Shock 2: The Von Braun is awfully badly secured and dangerous for a "state of the art prototype", even considering the horrible mutant infestation, because TriOptimum rushed its construction to beat the other companies to the FTL punch. You find logs complaining about it; they point out the cheapass cameras that don't even have full field-of-view and can be destroyed just by whacking them with a wrench, the unbelievably slow and dimwitted security bots, the ship-wide circuitry and database being so badly protected they could be hacked by a five-year-old with an Etch-A-Sketch, the chemical leaks, the radiation leaks, and the AI that runs the ship failing to prevent someone hijacking him into singing Elvis songs for three hours in a row. All of this is relevant to you, as the player, being forced to navigate/avoid/suffer under/take advantage of/arm yourself against the myriad fuckups.
In World of Warcraft, the Blackrock Depths dungeon is built inside a volcano, and is populated by evil dwarves. What makes them evil? The handrail-less bridges and walkways that are nothing but giant chains built over pools of lava (which would have been impossible to cross anyway if not for Convection Schmonvection). Even the capital cities feature these.
Aldor Rise features small open air elevators that go up a huge sheer cliff.
The dwarven city has pools of lava all over, some of which have grates to stop you falling in.
The undead city has pools of green glowing liquid all over-not dangerous to players but animals dipped in a similar substance have grown huge and attacked people.
But the most extreme example has to be Dalaran Underbelly. A tunnel that leads to a 500+ foot drop, strange potions lying everywhere, and a lovely shark swimming around by some shops, waiting to much on anyone who gets too close.
The gnomish city Gnomeregan is a partial subversion, abandoned due to having been flooded with radiation... except that there is not only a lack of rails in most places, but an elevator entrance to the subterranean city featuring a heavy lid slamming over the elevator shaft as the platform descends (don't stand too close).
Tauren capital Thunder Bluff is another offender, with the whole city built on a mesa hundreds of feet tall. The only safety is afforded by fences that are low by human standards, let alone the Tauren who are quite a bit taller. The plains at the foot of Thunder Bluff are frequently littered with the corpses of players who fell or jumped off.
Or the corpses of Alliance raiders who were sent flying by a spell with a knock-back effect.
This seemed to be a deliberate defensive decision though. Tauren leader Cairne Bloodhoof would punt attackers off the mesa.
Blackrock Spire is pretty bad in this respect too. The dungeon - supposedly a city inhabited mostly by orcs and dragons - is full of narrow bridges and easily-accessible ledges with no handrails whatsoever. While the bridges may be defensive structures a la Khazad-dűm, where they aren't over lava they're over drops that you need a parachute to survive.
Which can become frustrating, since it's possible to be knocked off these bridges (or just plain misstep and fall - yay lag!) down into the instance below; from Upper Blackrock Spire down into Lower Blackrock Spire.
Or if you fall off the stairway leading from the room you enter into the Lower Blackrock Spire part of the instance, you will fall into Blackrock Mountain, near the entrance to Blackrock Caverns.
Gilneas has several very high bridges with no railings whatsoever.
Grim Batol (a ruined Dwarven city used as a base by the Twilight Hammer cult) has several holes in the walkways, often on the bridges, and hardly anything resembling safety rails. Unfortunately, you cannot Mind Control the trash and make them fall off the edge.
Though you can in Vortex Pinnacle. Great way to dispose of the Temple Adepts.
Almost all elevators in this game are deadly, but special mention goes to the elevator in Serpent Shrine cavern. Jokingly known as "the Elevator Boss", many players have lost their lives to the sudden drop of the elevator and the large gaping hole it leaves at top when the moving platform is descending.
The "Elevator Boss" returns in Blackwing Descent, which players use to go from the Broken Hall to the Vault of the Shadoflae after defeating the first two bosses, with the added bonus that it's now also possible to fall off the back or sides of the elevator while it's moving.
The Aldor faction section of Shattrath has an elevator fast and high enough to be an elevator boss of its own. During the height of the Burning Crusade expansion, it was common to see dozens of skeletons piled up at its base.
And Booty Bay, with its completely demented layout (anywhere from two levels to four, depending on where and how you count), has almost no railings, fences, or similar... except in areas that are already sheltered. It's a good thing the game's weather code doesn't include windstorms.
How do you know a piece of engineering equipment has a chance to explode? It is labelled "safe". How do you know that a piece of equipment blowing up is the least of your worries? It is labelled "ultra safe."
Justified in BioShock, where something like OSHA would be considered a statist plot to infringe on free enterprise. Andrew Ryan specifically built Rapture to get away from pesky things like employee safety laws.
Infinite has it as well, and without the justification. For starters, there are fences here and there, but they're so low you can effortlessly jump across into the chasm below. Then the roads that connect the various buildings cheerfully end in the air when said buildings aren't docked. And the whole magnetic hook thing. And the skyboats with fully open sides. And the barrels of fireworks nonchalantly left sitting about, close to pools of flammable material. And on, and on, and on.
Then again, Columbia seceded decades before even the most basic safety laws came into effect, is run half by elitists and half by a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and cares nothing for basic worker safety.
The Sky-Lines are intended for cargo, and rebellious teenagers created tools to allow them to joyride. The Sky-hooks were originally created for maintenance inspired by such tools, then used by the Police and Vox Populi.
Older games in the Wipeout anti-gravity racing series had some off the wall environments including a supposed modern industrial complex with broken pipes spewing flames everywhere. Interestingly, its reimagining in a later Wipeout game looks exactly like the original but without the fire and damage. The non-canon spinoff Wipeout 64 for the Nintendo console has a track on an active volcano, built there to provide 'serious background action', but don't worry, there have been no fatalities among racing crew or paying spectators.
Final Fantasy VI has issues with this. Castle Figaro, being able to burrow underground and relocate on the other side of the planet, has no safety measures should it fail. That is, there seems to be no means of getting out in between the two exit locations. This fault gets plot pointed in the World of Ruin where the castle has been stuck underground for a year and the guards are, presumably, dying of asphyxiation, though that depends on the translation.
The Magitek Research Facility is also pretty bad. The two worst issues are the enemy encounters and the mine cart sequence. Early in the facility, the player will encounter typical guards, but as the player continues through the facility, more monster like enemies appear. Basically, the empire lets magically experimented monsters roam free. The mine cart sequence has monsters everywhere and there seems to be no means to stop the cart. Had there not been that mech at the end of the rail to stop the cart, Locke and the others would have fallen down a pit and probably die.
Every single mako reactor in Final Fantasy VII. All of them have giant glowing pools of mako at the bottom, thin walkways above said pools of mako (sometimes without guardrails), built in such a way that someone needs to walk on pipes to get to the main valve, holes in the walkways that you need to jump over, and Cloud needs to rescue Jessie when she gets her foot stuck in the walkway grating. When one blows up it goes off like an atomic bomb. It's not surprising that the Big Bad falls to his (supposed) doom into a pool of mako just by using the powers of leverage.
By extension the entire city of Midgar is a No OSHA Compliance. People have to live in sectors separated by mako reactors, which continuously process a substance known to be harmful to the average human. To put it in real world terms, imagine if your neighbourhood has a nuclear power plant in front and behind it. In addition, each sector consists of a massive triangular mini-metropolis suspended hundreds of yards above ground level by a series of key supports, and a slum of equal size sitting directly underneath it. One of these sectors gets dropped on its respective slum only a couple of hours into the game, killing everybody on both levels. Apparently the support pillars of the sectors have an Emergency Plate Release System. Yes, you heard right. There are explosives designed to drop the plates built in to the support structure, just in case you suddenly need to kill off the population of several small towns at once. Talk about Evil Inc..
The Shinra Manor in Nibelheim has most of the normal safety features of a big house - railings at staircases and upperfloors... except at the spiral staircase into the deept basement. Considering the basement contains most of the the scientific lab and library, necessary for the scientists working in the manor, you'd think Shinra would stop skimping on the renovation budget.
Final Fantasy X has a similar example to the Mako Reactor above; during Sin's attack on Zanarkand in the prologue, Tidus and Auron are attacked by a swarm of monsters. The solution? Attack a very exposed and very weak device that supports five incredibly volatile fuel drums over the edge of a bridge. The resulting explosion leveled the massive bridge in seconds and on a non-Sin day would probably have killed hundreds of innocent people.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time does this. You have to wonder why the worshipers would build their Temple in an active volcano in the first place, forget the deadly, sprawling dungeon they built in it. There are no places that even so much as hint at serving the purpose of worship, other than the Temple of Time, which has an altar and the Triforce symbol. Apparently the natives just wanted to build a deadly place, because that's what all the architecture seems to work toward.
The Fire Temple makes sense, since it would presumably be attended by Gorons, who don't have a problem being in and around lava. The same is true of the Water Temple, which would have been used by the Zoras. Others are more questionable, such as the Shadow Temple; it's not made clear exactly what sort of religious worship requires giant torture devices...
It's implied that the Shadow Temple is an elaborate tomb built by the Sheikah. That doesn't exactly explain the giant torture devices, but the temple was never really a place of worship. In fact, none of the temples of Ocarina of Time (apart from the Spirit Temple and Temple of Time) remotely resemble places of worship at all.
In The Godfather: The Game, you gain the Watch Your Step Execution Style by pushing an opponent off a railing to a minimum one-story drop, whether it's by physically pushing them over or by making them stumble back from a shot.
The Kanto Power Plant in Generations I and III of Pokémon is a maze-like abandoned factory with generators around the place, explosive Pokémon all over and just a single path. The problem is, even if we admit that it is abandoned, it still doesn't explain why they built it in such a nonsensical way, specially seeing how there are no torn down walls anywhere to explain the maze structure and there is only one emergency exit◊, (so if there's a fire when you're in the southeast zone, you're screwed). That would explain why the place was completely rebuilt when the plant was made functional in Generations II and IV.
Look at some of the gyms in Pokémon, especially Gen V. Frictionless Ice over Bottomless Pits, roller coasters on very thin tracks, elevators over massive drops with no handrails, and the daddy of them all, shooting the trainer out of fricking cannons to get to the Leader. Skyla is trying to kill us. (Plus Claire's lava-filled gym in Gen II, Morty's bottomless pit floor in the same [though OSHA might not have a regulation against violating the laws of physics], Juan/Wallace's gym that sends you plummeting through thin ice, and to a lesser extent, any gym filled with water [no lifeguard on duty]).
Probably justified: none of these locations are any more dangerous than letting ten-year-olds run around with incredibly dangerous monsters. Assuming the authorities are okay with that, there's no reason to worry about lava-filled gyms. Your pokemon will protect you!
Also, a trainer in Brycen's gym actually lampshades some of the dangerous things you have to do in gyms.
Duke Nukem comments on the villian Morphix's lack of safety twice in the first factory level in Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project.
Early in the level: "Looks like Morphix puts worker safety first. Right after everything else."
Near the end of the level: "Something tells me this won't pass any safety inspections..."
The Punisher; many 'special kills' sections involves jamming people into hideously dangerous 'normal' contraptions. License plate machines with head-crushing devices just inches away from the hands. Knife-holding racks that drop knives like rain when you shake them. Even Tony Stark's HQ has laser etching machines people can trip into. Oh and doors that somehow end up open when enemies attack.
Possibly the crowning example of this in the game is in the lobby of Stark Enterprises, which has two interlocking constantly turning huge gears on the wall with absolutely nothing to keep people away from them. Despite apparently being purely decorative they are sturdy enough and driven with enough force to completely crush a human skull between them.
Area 51 subverts this. Many of the puzzles you have to solve are all about subverting safety regulations so you can advances to the next area. Or defeat an enemy. Thank goodness random explosions manage to smash through the safety railings in efficient ways. And bonus content the player can collect describes how to safely handle various devices so you don't accidentally destroy your fingers/the continent.
In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the keeps on the Planes of Oblivion. It may be a hellish netherworld but come on, elevators that come down on spikes? Stairways made out of spikes? Doorframes that would tear bits off you if you bumped them? Justified in that 1) the normal denizens are immortal, 2) they are pocket dimensions created and designed by an Anthromorphic Personification of Destruction, 3) it's trying to kill you anyway.
The weather factory in Pajama Sam: Thunder and Lightning Aren't So Frightening is set high in the clouds with many exposed catwalks.
Justified in Unreal Tournament where the various industrial buildings were shut down for ignoring various safety protocols, but were then repurposed by Liandri and are intentionally kept as dangerous as possible for entertainment purposes.
Played straight in Unreal, the expansion lampshades it at one point in a Skaarj facility with a run through spiked doors near a message:
"0 days since last accident"
The Dead Space games seem to hint that all of human construction in the future conforms to this trope. The doors throughout the series are particularly bad, replacing simple handles with needlessly high tech locks and automatic opening mechanisms no manual override.
The first Dead Space is itself an affront to employee safety. Even if you take out the necromorphs, the traitor, and the black ops cleaning squad; the Ishimura is built like a meat grinder aimed squarely at turning the crew into hamburger. The "rescue" government ship has a drive room built like a nuclear easy-bake oven. Good luck getting that critical drive core!
Dead Space 2 has a few smoke and fire factories, like a "processing plant" that supposedly treats air and contains various corkscrews at unequal intervals, electric arcs and alternating bursts of flame. Then there's a building that contains two unexplained steel towers with rings going up and down them belching flames. And it isn't even an obstacle!
There are also several posters stating giant moving fan blades and other machinery are "safe enough" when under the effect of stasis.
Then there are the windows leading right into the vacuum of space. Not only do they shatter ridiculously easily, to activate the emergency shutters you have to hit a brightly marked box right next to the window. Anyone who manages to do that by hand without getting sucked into space also risks losing body parts as the shutters close at the worst possible moment.
Obviously, Ultor's mining operation on Mars in Red Faction. The Commonwealth in 2 is also guilty of it.
Other maps feature bottomless pits (fatal), trains running at full speed (fatal), caldron full of molten metal (you get the idea). And we haven't even gotten to the part where the players are killing each other!
The "Mannworks" map features a number of warning signs from Mann Co. One of them simply says, "WARNING: We do not care about your safety."
Anchorhead's paper mill is extremely unsafe, being built in a Town with a Dark Secret by a descendant of the Big Bad. The maintainance tunnel you use to enter is periodically flooded with superheated steam. The machinery itself runs unattended, also shoots out steam, and includes a mixing vat without a good railing, resulting in a Nightmare Fuel death scene. A Dungeon Bypass is a good idea.
The Power Plant Posse in Jett Rocket has this as their whole raison d'etre, and their motivation is mostly just building huge, dangerous, resource-sucking factories on peaceful planets. Probably the worst of the lot is Jungle level 3, "The Jungle Garrison."
Due to ridiculous budget cuts, Dr. Eggman's Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park in Sonic Colors is very unsafe. Eggman even warns you, for example, not to peel off the duct SPACE tape that holds the starships together.
"Please note that this ride is not safe for children under 12, or over 13. It is also not safe for 13-year-olds."
The theme park Whoopie World in Rocket: Robot on Wheels seems pretty darn unsafe. Although some of its less-safe features can probably be attributed to it being taken over by an evil raccoon, why are there deep pits of unrailed water? Why does the funhouse contain bottomless pits? Why is it only possible to climb through matinence areas by swinging on tiny, constantly-moving poles?
Scarface: The World is Yours. The construction site has huge ramps leading over large drops to the road below. One snapped break line and a construction worker is gone.
In Thief: Deadly Shadows, Garrett mentions that more people have been killed by the gears of the city's clock tower than the blade of the city's guillotine. There are at least two places in that tower where lack of safety precautions can be lethal.
City of Heroes has Grandville, the Big Bad's fortress city. Incredibly tall, catwalks everywhere, and not a railing in sight. The soldiers who have to patrol the area comment on this.
The first game had Fire Man's stage - a steel mill flooded with lava, filled with fire bars and fire streams, precarious jumping over said lava and enemies surrounded in fire falling down from the sky. Elec Man's is no better, with bottomless pits and frequent bursts of exposed electricity. Could be Justified as them simply messing the place up, though. Dr. Wily's Robot Manufacturing Plant, however, takes the cake.
Spark Man's stage in Mega Man 3, with death spikes and pink blocks that rise into said spikes.
Sky Town in Mega Man Battle Network 6. The only way to get into it is by elevator, because it's built on pathways supported by rockets 30,000 feet above sea level. And there aren't any handrails anywhere, or any regard for the fact that it'd be hard to breathe because it's so high up and you have no time to get acclimated to the reduced air pressure.
The Fallout series, though justifiably unsafe since it's set After the End, has the player visit several Pre-War buildings which obviously have issues with OSHA compliance. There are robot workers who "punish" disobedience by starving the offenders to death (or straight-up murder them), turrets that fire on anyone they don't recognise (including employees who have forgotten their ID cards) and security systems that summon dozens of heavily armed sentry bots (missile-equipped, at that) to deal with a single intruder indoors. The first half of the Dead Money DLC for Fallout: New Vegas takes place in a Villa that was constructed with the strength of a sandcastle, according to various logs - the huge cloud of poisonous gas isn't fallout, it's residue from the air conditioning. The Sierra Madre Casino nearby, in response to the war happening, locked the guests inside and shot anyone who tried to leave.
In the main game itself, you can enter an iron works factory where the insane robot workers have been at work for the past 200 years, and will attack and kill anyone that enters. Also, there are no covers or rails to prevent workers, or players, from walking right up and touching white hot metal beams.
In the pre-war backstory, part of the reason the world became so terrible is because OSHA just plain did not exist. Factories had horrible safety records at best, nuclear power was so ubiquitous that people were slowly poisoning themselves every day with everything from their vehicles all the way down to their soft drinks (deliberately spiked with radiation for flavor), and nuclear waste was treated with such cavalier incompetence that entire convoys of the stuff would go missing, crash, get lost, end up in the wrong places, or dump their contents alarmingly close to human settlements. Rad poisoning was so wide-spread someone had to invent a cure-all, Rad Away, and it seems people pretended that was all that was needed to cure the rad poisoning (and its side-effects, and its long-term effects). Finally, crappy programming safeguards made computers and robots, with their poor shielding from interference and damage to their server banks, go Crush. Kill. Destroy! so often you could set your watch by them.
All robots have combat inhibitors. If these are destroyed, the robot will frenzy and attack everyone and everything nearby. Think about that. The default state of all robots is Crush. Kill. Destroy!. They need to be actively prevented from killing everything. Even the Mister Handy line of domestic helper robots.
Dragon Age II has some really absurd examples of this. Gameplay wise, nothing changes, but most of Kirkwalls railings are JAGGED METAL SPIKES, they also seem to be rusty too, and are everywhere. The Biggest cause of death (next to Hawke) would probably be tetanus, they're even on the windowsills!
Star Wars: The Old Republic retains the classic Star Wars bottomless pits with no railings in Imperial facilities, and adds elevator platforms with no railings and no guards to prevent people from simply walking into an empty elevator shaft.
In The Perils Of Akumos, one workroom actually has a forewoman and safety regulations. But in the mines, accidents are rampant and result from total unregulation.
An old, Donkey Kong-esque game for the Apple II, titled Hard Hat Mack, features a guy on a construction site, dodging flying nails, deadly conveyor belts, intimidating vandals, fires, crushers, and other horrible occupational hazards. Oddly enough, there is an OSHA representative wandering about, but he's a deadly enemy for some reason.
The GULF facility in Win Back not only is maze-like and has the usual work safety violations (high catwalks, few guardrails, awkward ladders, ill-placed control switches), but has instant-kill laser booby traps and Exploding Barrels strewn all over the place.
The Strogg homeworld in Quake II and Quake IV obviously has no safety regulations, given the death traps it is strewn with, including rail-less walkways, acid and lava pits, exposed ventilation fans and other machinery, retractable bridges over bottomless pits or lava, gauntlets of crushing hallway traps, out-of-place conveyor belts, and so on.
Averted in the futuristic sports game Pararena. Your armor cushions you from all injury, the transporter is flawless at recovering players flung into space, and there's a helpful "Caution!" sign above the ball return (even though it's impossible for anything to go wrong there in-game).
Often found in Minecraft as a result of player-created mines and buildings. In the name of efficiency, players often won't design anything that will last any longer than is necessary for them to use it. Tunnels are quite often extremely thin and marginally well lit, with no hint that the player has lazily blocked up lava in a wall or the ceiling with just some dirt. Bridges are rarely wider than a block and rarer still made of anything that can resist an explosion, even in the Nether when they're built over lava oceans while Ghasts shoot Made of Explodium fireballs everywhere. And this is just a few of the many hazards, all created (or at least left behind) by other players (excluding the natural generation of the world).
Industrialcraft, a conversion for Mincraft features nuclear reactors. Safe reactor designs use heat sinks and vents to manage the heat level. High capacity reactors skirt the dangerous levels where stuff surrounding it can catch fire and even turn blocks around into lava blocks.
Invoked by Starcraft. Terran buildings are generally built haphazardly and have a large number of tanks and lines containing various volatile and/or flammable materials. When the buildings take damage, those tanks can rupture and start fires in the building. Heavily damaged buildings can see chain reactions as the spreads to more tanks, eventually causing the entire building to explode.
In Beneath a Steel Sky, the factory you start in, as well as the standard lack of guard rails, has an emergency exit that leads to what used to be a catwalk, but is now basically a 500 story drop. When speaking to an engineer at the factory, you can point out how dangerous it is. His response: "Well, that's why the door's locked!"
Subverted in Antihero For Hire when Dragon and Crossroad fight on a walkway over vats of acid that turn out to be empty.
In Gunnerkrigg Court, the first-year students' dorm rooms are stacked directly atop each other like bunks — 30 stories high. They can only be reached by ladder, and there is neither wall nor railing on the side with the drop. The unlined bridge over the Annan Waters, on the other hand, is actually justified: any railing would cast a shadow, which would allow the Glass-Eyed Men to cross. To offset the danger, it's at least twelve feet wide, so the only way to fall off is to be pushed.
The proto-webcomic Henchmen introduces the concept of the Health and Danger Department, working on the logic that the best possible fighting force is one in peak physical condition and constant mortal danger. Hence deliberately moving walkways over vats of toxic waste and whacking the poor henchmen about the head with a cricket bat while they fill in a "Risk-Awareness Test" form.
Girl Genius has the quasi-overlord of Europe using Castle Heterodyne as a prison. The Castle is run by a fragmented artificial intelligence that interprets every order creatively as to cause the most death. This Castle is Ax-Crazy, it's inventive, and worst of all, it likes to think it has a sense of humor. Very rarely do the inmates actually complete their sentences. The Castle itself actually does employ some safety measures, primarily railings, but at the same time it has poison dispensers (clearly labelled) that are designed to curb illiteracy, giant killer jack-in-the-boxes in the nursery, a killer plant sitting in an open atrium, and a giant roaring fire consuming a section of the castle's basement. Considering the place was the home base of a family line of the most insane and violent Mad Scientists in history, the Heterodynes generally deliberately designed it that way.
SSDD lampshades and justifies this with site 12. The factory is completely automated, so there usually aren't people there to begin with. More importantly, the unstable A.I running the place does not like dealing with visitors, especially advisors and has Vetinari Job Security so she includes egregious safety violations to serve as Schmuck Bait. One inspector notes how suspicious this is and is killed for it.
The Snail Factory features industrial accidents as a recurring theme. In one episode it's even revealed that the factory saves money by not having guardrails around an open vat and allowing workers to fall in, thus increasing "the protein levels".
Quentyn: Sorry, Captain. Old ranger cadet rule #1: "No matter how shiny the forcefield is, keep your helmet on until the airlock is closed."
Zigzags in The Whiteboard. Paintball safety is a Serious Business (as in real life), with preemptive Amusing Injuries to violators (referees use tasers, mallets, staplers and duct tape); a oneshot character routinely violating safety rules wears an eyepatch. When it comes to other activities of Doc and Roger, they honestly try to comply with rules, with mixed results. Their coffee maker requires boiler operator's license, thus Sandy and Pirta cannot use it. Their nuclear reactors had to be kept secret until they finished the paperwork, and they still cannot be used for heating. Experimenting with time resulted in The Men in Black confiscating everything dangerous-looking. And sometimes Doc and Roger get carried away by prospects of More Dakka. This includes fireworks, custom paintball guns and Doc's cooking explosives.
The SCP Foundation plays with this. At the top of every article is an explanation on how to keep the various dangerous objects locked away, and how to handle the things safely, with all safety precautions that MUST be taken when testing the objects... for the scientists. The class-D's get no such comforts, doing jobs that have extremely high fatality rates, being just the test subjects to see what SCPs do (and all of them are terminated after a month if they somehow survive). Also, it is very clear that the Foundation is above many regulations of any country, OSHA, EPA, or otherwise, just to keep the horrors they deal with contained.
Many of the organizations that create SCPs don't make these things safe for anyone that goes near the objects. Dr. Wondertainment's toy robot's (Robo-Dude) only safety feature is the long winded warning it gives to anyone who tries to use it. The toy's features include "Fire Drill", "Ultra Plasma Rifle", and "Atomic Grenade." The Factory is even worse, proudly producing products that seem designed to kill anyone who even touches their products, such as a bouncy ball that increases in power each time it bounces (only stopping when it lands in water or leaves Earth orbit), destroying any building it is in.
Having said that, we get this little gem from Agent Lombardi:
Agent Lombardi: Who here is willin' to die rather than give up on the mission? One, two, three, four… Okay, you five fail. Counter to what some dingbats will tell you, the latter is actually the preferred option.
It's explicitly mentioned in In Golden Waters that a lot of the seasteads were built with little in the way of safety measures and oversight. Inevitably, this gets a lot of people killed both during construction (mention of dead construction workers is frequent) and after it (when things inevitably start breaking down).
Defied in Ruby Quest. That giant room with the deadly spinning fans? They have guardrails. Pretty tall guardrails, coming up to an average human's chest. They're explicitly stated to be at least regulation height, if not higher. Thus, that blind patient "Stitches" still ended up getting killed by the fans was very suspicious to the staff (also because Stitches was "very familiar with the area"), which in turn tips them off to the fact that Ruby was a murderous psycho.
Played straight with most of the automatic doors, especially the "Z-hatch", which close with enough force to decapitate.
Although it predates the OSHA, the Popeye cartoon Lost And Foundry fits this trope perfectly.
Batman: The Animated Series had most of its fights in places like this, and the animated version of Two-Face can trace his origin to such an encounter (also, in the 1989 Batman movie, the origin of The Joker hinges on such a place).
Gotham's power plant, for instance, seems to be composed of ledges over a Bottomless Pit with a control center at the top.
Even The Creeper got his origin this way. Ironically it was the same place where the Joker had fallen to the vat of chemical waste, yet they never bothered to change the places of the vats or at least make the rails higher.
A hospital in "Feat of Clay" has a room full of contagious diseases kept in glass vials and jars on shelves with no restraints that anyone could just trip into and knock over. It isn't even locked. Nothing actually happens (Bats uses it for an interrogation), but it is still unforgivably dangerous.
Actually, it turns out that Batman just says that to get the crook to talk. The chemicals are actually harmless; the one Bats used specifically turned out to be ordinary sea water.
Codename: Kids Next Door had a lot of places like this, but perhaps the worst was the condemned amusment park that appeared in "Operation I.N.T.E.R.V.I.E.W.S", the Rainbow Monkeys Let's Learn About the Lavatory Park; a theme park about toilet training. The adult Numbuh Three commented in the interview that she had no idea why anyone thought it would be a good idea in the first place, and that when she eventually became CEO of the Rainbow Monkey company, she ordered it torn down simply to do away with the smell. In any case, the place was a deathtrap, as evidenced from the battle at the conclusion of the episode where Numbuh One finally defeated the Delightful Chidren from Down the Lane, seemingly for good.
Lampshaded in the Family Guy Star Wars parody Blue Harvest. One scene has a pair of Death Star crewmen complaining about the lack of guard rails and their attempts to get some installed.
In the Transformers Animated episode "Autoboot Camp", they have simulated weapons that can be turned deadly with the flip of a switch. While there might be a legitimate reason to have some live ammo in a simulation training, there are none for having the things to be turned lethal at the flip of a switch (either through debris, cyber-fauna, or actual sabotage).
The Simpsons: The Springfield Nuclear Power Plant is a safety nightmare. There are repeated scenes of Burns doing things to try and circumvent getting shut down, from running for governor to bribing officials.
If only it stopped at Mr. Burns. His employees seem to be the most incompetent gaggle of nitwits ever created. They hired Homer Simpson for crying out loud, and have not fired him after numerous accidents that came within a hair's breadth of looking like the sordid offspring of a threeway with Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island and the Love Canal... Then there's Lenny, who refitted the soda machines in Sector 7G to dispense beer if one asked for club soda. The only sane employee they ever had (Frank Grimes) killed himself after Homer showed him up during a kids' nuclear plant design contest. Homer was once able to cause a nuclear meltdown in a test environment containing no nuclear materials. The worst part is, Homer is the one in charge of the safety (which he got after Homer, ironically, led a public safety campaign against the nuclear plant. Prior to that, Homer was just a waste handler).
To see how good Homer is at his job, three time he temporarily leaves his spot at reactor control station he is replaced by a 1) chicken, 2) a brick hanging from a lever and 3) "drinking bird" plastic toy that presses "y" button on the keyboard on every question asked.
Mr. Burns' Yes-Man Waylan Smithers seems somewhat competent (at least compared to most of the plant's employees) but even he isn't perfect. He once admitted that one of his 2,800 duties is lying to Congress.
In various episodes, we see clips of plant workers doing everything from playing chess in the reactor core to holding cockfights in the lunch room to engaging in "Nap Time" in the middle of the day. They also scream and panic whenever there's an emergency, remove emergency procedure posters to make get-well-soon cards, and engage in log-rolling contests using drums of nuclear waste.
And perhaps worst of all, the employees at the nuclear plant are required to visit 3 separate rooms to get coffee, cream and sugar.
The nuclear power plant does however get regular visit from safety inspectors who do point out the dangers and flaws of the plant. They are diligent enough to demand Burns fix the plants hazards and don't take cheap bribes from him.
Also played for laughs when Skinner and Bart where fighting over a large boiling vat of Peanut Shrimp (Bart is allergic to shrimp, Skinner is allergic to peanuts), and ramp their on is easily cut with the wooden sticks they were fighting with.
Itchy And Scratchy Land had rides where people would come within inches of being gouged by spikes and have the ride hit a buzz saw. This was before the robots revolted. Particularly bad is the part where a ride has spikes on top extend over the front seats. Apparently tall people sitting in front never occurred to them.
Played for Laughs in American Dad!!, where in one episode Stan comments that an old walkway might be unsafe before he promptly falls through it, and the dozen or so after that one-by-one. Meanwhile Steve takes the perfectly safe elevator to the bottom, reading a newspaper to Stan as Stan continues to fall through walkway after walkway.
In Darkwing Duck the Liquidator has almost the same origin as The Joker. He was originally Bud Flud the owner of a bottled water company. He capitalized on a heat wave by poisoning his competitors' water supplies until he was interrupted by Darkwing. During the scuffle he tripped and fell into one of the already contaminated vats. He went nuts after his transformation into a super powerful water elemental and blamed Darkwing for "throwing" him into the vat.
Referenced in a Robot Chicken episode, where a Cobra operative remarks that the Cobra workplace is completely OSHA compliant... The camera pans over to show a splattered henchman stuck to the ceiling.
"It's been thirty-three days since our last on site accident. The uh, Weather Dominator exploded. We lost about 133 guys. You can still kinda see what's left of Scott Anderson up there. We should really clean that up, we've been chucking a softball at it, so it's up there pretty good."
The record factory from the "A Star Is Lost" episode of Inspector Gadget is one of these. The conveyor belt that carries Gadget, Penny, and Rick Rocker is an especially notable example; there's absolutely no reason for the conveyor to begin at any point before the actual record press (To say nothing of the humongous size of the press itself).
Referenced in an episode of "Aaahh!!! Real Monsters", when a tough monster suggests scaring some humans in what Ickis refers to as a "Fire and Clang Factory."
A Futurama episode shows the Professor making government-mandated safety upgrades to the spaceship "(the crew) has been suing (him) about". Among them: taping up the crack in the dark matter reactor, and putting the lion in a cage. Leela might also be considered non-OSHA, what with the whole not having any depth perception and all. Plus the current crew is at least the second (the other having been eaten by space wasps), and it's implied there have been more.
Fry initially has trouble with the doors and the tube-based public transport system after first entering the year 3000.
This trope is the raison d'etre of many Thunderbirds episodes, like the Fireflash in the pilot episode, an atomic-powered aeroplane which would have killed all of its passengers by radiation poisoning if it didn't land within 2 hours, and the Crablogger, an atomic-powered logging machine which was going to blow up if not shut down properly.
Tombstone's origin story in Spider-Man: The Animated Series also involves falling from a narrow catwalk into a vat of green acid, during his attempt to frame Roby. (Let's face it, a lot of villains tend to get their start in places like this.)
Original ThunderCats. The home of the mighty mystical gyroscope — that's keeping New Thundera in one friggin' piece — LIVES this trope.
In the original series of Ben 10, the episode ''Secret of the Omnitrix' opens in a factory that perfectly fits this trope.
In Total Drama, Camp Wawanakwa suffers from this plus No EPA Compliance after Chris McLean rents the island out to a "nice, family oriented" bio-hazardous waste disposal company in the interim between Island and Revenge of the Island, causing the flora and fauna of the island to mutate. However, Chris is busted by the Canadian government for his illegal activities at the end of Revenge of the Island.
The first season had numerous references to interns being injured or killed in various accidents, presumably due to a lack of safety precautions. Particularly noteworthy is the incident when an intern dies whilst testing part of the final challenge. Chris reacts by saying to himself, "That seems safe enough."
In My Little Pony Friendship is Magic, the city of Cloudsdale. A city in the sky made entirely of clouds that can only be walked on by pegasi (and ponies who've been enchanted with the ability). It has been established that some ponies have an inability to fly at early ages (e.g. Fluttershy and Scootaloo, but the latter at least lives on the ground), meaning any filly which happens to walk off the edge or into a gap (of which there are many) can easily fall to their deaths. Hell, this damn near happened to Fluttershy, who was saved by a timely pack of butterflies.
Which this could be somewhat explained by the fact that most pegasi seem to be overconfident and lack of flight at a young age seems is either a rare condition or a normal, temporary side effect of puberty, as ponies younger than Scootaloo are shown in the second episode flying, and Pound Cake can fly before speaking.
Ponyville itself appears to also be this in the Mare-Do-Well episode. Balconies that cannot take the strain of three old people standing on them, a long and VERY steep road that ends in a ramp, a construction site where a single crane error almost got the entire construction crew killed. It appears that Rainbow Dash's heroics might be the only thing keeping the town's populace alive. Canterlot is even worse, with the ENTIRE city being constructed on the side of a SHEER CLIFF (which includes, among other things, a giant castle), only held off from falling into the valley below by a few support beams and prayers to Celestia.
In real life, a very large number of factories are capable of being surprisingly deadly if you either 1) do something stupid around the machines, or 2) do anything to damage the fairly intricate control systems that run the plant. You don't even have to be dealing with something like high temperature molten metal (with which this troper has worked) either: do a Google search for industrial accident photos. But only if you have a REALLY strong stomach. OSHA regulations are designed to protect workers in the normal performance of their duties—they do not cover carelessness or stupidity.
The real facility commonly known as Area 51 was sued for its OSHA/EPA noncompliance and open-air burning of toxic materials and other poisonous/radioactive substances. The suit was thrown out citing national security issues, which kept virtually all the (classified) evidence from being seen by the judge or jury.
Dangerous factories that existed before OSHA came into existence, when corporations could get away with anything.
The Hanford Nuclear Research Facility, by all accounts, is a mass of random radioactive chemical dumps, some of which are uncatalogued and all of which contain unknown dangers. A friend of a friend from there tells of a giant pit full of unknown radioactive chemicals that was sealed by a 500-ton concrete "lid". Every so often, on a semi-predictable basis, the pit "burps" a huge cloud of toxic gas that actually lifts the lid.
Formerly the "mass production" site for the Manhattan Project's nuclear material, these days Hanford is essentially a massive government project to clean up everything. Recently they found the second-oldest known (artificial) plutonium in a glass jar buried in a safe. In a normal waste dump. Groundwater contamination is the more serious issue right now, because at the current rate, the contamination will reach the Columbia River before the cleanup can stop it. To be fair, the contractors hired to perform the cleanup are currently focusing almost entirely on the groundwater issue, and are making some headway. Just not enough, and the regular government interference only serves to bog the work down further. There's a fair number of folks in Benton, Franklin, Columbia and Walla Walla counties who are getting exasperated at the whole affair.
Even better? You can actually TOUR the facility! Yummy!
The Semiconductor industry had this issue for years. Fairchild Semiconductor Superfund site is infamous for this. Use of toxic gases in large volumes is needed, and there's a lot of power being used. The industry had a massive crackdown by the EPA and OSHA causing it to be cleaned up quite a bit. Some companies have overseas plants though without such regulation leading to sulfuric acid and some other nasty stuff being pumped out of the building causing all grass to die outside.
In theatre, we call this making the OSHA whale cry, or in severe cases killing the OSHA whale. Usually seen in non-union houses, and university settings. Refers to cases where people do ridiculously stupid/dangerous things to get their job done faster, such as climbing a tree 30 feet in the air without a harness, or wandering around on catwalks without a harness, etc.
Flawed design, among several spectacularly irresponsible and reckless things (like using the thing for an unauthorised experiment, which required disabling most of the failsafes), was one of the major reasons for the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. True, it was in the USSR and thus not subject to OSHA regulations. But even with Soviet safety regulations it was still guilty of some heinous design flaws. Likely because the lead engineer building the plant had no experience or training in building nuclear reactors, and had previously only built dams. Among said flaws:
To reduce costs, and because of its large size, the reactor had been constructed with only partial containment. On the insanity scale, this would be sort of like providing someone with a "bullet-proof" vest that only stopped bullets to the shoulders and lower abdomen while letting chest shots go straight through. Because it wasn't contained, it allowed the radioactive contaminants to escape into the atmosphere after the steam explosion burst the primary pressure vessel.
The reactor also had been running for over one year, and was storing fission byproducts; these byproducts pushed the reactor towards disaster.
It was actually scheduled for shutdown and maintenance on the very day the disaster happened. In fact, it happened because it was scheduled for a shutdown, as it was deemed the good opportunity to test some possible upgrades. The outcome of this test is well known.
And that test probably would have turned out better if it had been carried out by the technicians who had been prepared for it, rather than the next shift after the test was delayed due to complications.
The graphite-tipped control rods and their insertion system was designed in such a way that, when inserted, temporarily displaced some coolant, reportedly to decrease latency when in normal operation. This greatly increased the rate of the fission reaction temporarily, since graphite is a more potent neutron moderator (a material that enables a nuclear reaction) and also absorbed far fewer neutrons than the boiling light water. Thus for the first few seconds of control rod activation, reactor power output was actually increased, rather than reduced as desired.
Given that an overheating mode was reached from another abnormal mode (at the end of experiment), reactor itself needs only pair of extra failsafe conditions preventing automatics from kicking in more rods at once than is safe and from going into any state when it may need to cool down too quickly. That is, allowing only normal usage for which it was designed.
While the design flaws certainly contributed, a major cause was the under trained personnel ignoring several warnings from the plants computers.
Indeed, while design flaws either contributed somewhat to the disaster or led to failure containing its effects, the reason of it was gross mishandling of the test by the operators, who violated every relevant regulation possible. The (above mentioned) fact that 12 other reactors of the same type have been running decades longer without incident shows the design is at least workable.
Worth mentioning is the containment project to keep the slagged reactors at Chernobyl from leaking. Due to time constraints, you kinda have to rush when you're dealing with a ton of radioactive fuel, a large concrete bunker was built around the reactor and the fuel that had spread in the explosion was shoveled in by workers in HazMat suits, followed by the bunkers 'door' being closed. Due to poor construction it is now unsafe to be near the outside of the bunker and the Russian govt is creating plans to build a SECOND containment around the current one.
The Ukrainian government, being stuck with the whole thing after the collapse of USSR, is asking Europe for funds to build a more permanent dome. Let's face it, if the first dome fails, then it will be everybody's problem.
Narrowly averted at an air-cooled reactor Windscale. When the graphite core of the reactor caught fire, a colossal release of airborne radiation was prevented only by hastily added filters that Sir John Cockcroft had insisted be installed, which the government deemed unnecessary.
Modern view is that at no point the graphite itself was on fire (which would be extremely bad news), what was burning were the aluminum fuel cans. Luckily, the temperature wasn't high enough to pyrolyse the water that was finally used to put the fire out, or the entire reactor might've blown up.
If you read Fast Food Nation you'll find out just how much crap the meat and fast food industry get away with.
If we're going to mention that, we'll have to mention The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Written in 1906 and showed what the meatpacking industry got away with. Yikes.
China: where electronic equipment waste goes to die, be dismantled, and burned, exposing workers to loads of horrible toxic materials, and then made into children's toys and shipped back to the US.
China deserves special mention with the products which luckily are not allowed in Europe and North America due to safety reasons. Among them are lead in colours, and battery cells without any kind of fail-safe.
Union Carbide's Chemical Plant in Bhopal. The plant design was modified to suit the Indian economic situation, the personnel were mostly untrained and those who were kept getting sacked. Also built next to a major population center with no contingency plan. But this example really fits the trope because the accident was caused by rusty pipes and lack of a chemical scrubber. So when something went wrong, it became the worst industrial catastrophe the world has ever seen.
Even if this were true, it would still count. No major chemical plant should ever be designed so that a single low-level employee can set off a catastrophe with a single act of sabotage.
There were numerous problems relating to changes in the type of chemicals being used (the design was fine for the chemicals originally processed in it, but NOT fine for the much more dangerous chemicals being processed at the time of the incident), the management of Union Carbide of India (which had been directed by Union Carbide International to correct safety defects discovered by a safety audit done on behalf of Union Carbide International, and then proceeded not to), and the governments in India with relevant jurisdictions (which actually certified the plan as safe after the safety upgrades were ordered by Union Carbide International and not done by Union Carbide of India, which could only have led International to wrongly conclude that the ordered work had, in fact, been done). As the incident was precipitated by the injection of water into a vessel containing chemicals that reacted poorly to water, who is actually at fault is hard to determine.
OSHA's records claim that, in the last three years, the BP oil company ran up to 760 willful safety violations in their US installations alone.
To put that in perspective, another company racked up a grand total of 12, and most companies on record had willful violations in the single digits.
Clean-up workers for the BP oil spill were not allowed to wear respirators, as BP feared that would create a bad image. PR hasn't been their strong side lately.
Of course, their subcontractor, TransOcean, isn't much better. In 2010, the year of the spill, they had more than 100 major incidents, yet still called it their safest year yet.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill. All the oil companies were ignoring regulations without fear of repercussions. Several glaring problems were present including the fact that the crew of the Valdez was not provided its mandatory 6 hours of rest after a 12 hour stint, the radar on the ship had been broken for more than a year and deemed too expensive to repair and operate, and the oil industry promised but never installed iceberg monitoring equipment. Honestly, this was a disaster waiting to happen.
And the Captain was a man with a known drinking problem and had known to have been drunk on the job before—and indeed, the night of the accident he was sleeping off five double vodka tonics (which, as Justice Souter noted in the Supreme Court's opinion in one of the inevitable lawsuits, is "enough that a non-alcoholic would have passed out") and was probably still drunk (although not at the helm) at the time of the accident. Not someone a sane person would put in charge of an oil tanker.
In all fairness, the guy was off-watch at the time. Not the man you'd want to handle the situation (hangover really doesn't help during the disasters), true, but at least he wasn't directly responsible.
The Texas City Refinery Explosion was practically a textbook case of no OSHA compliance, at least judging by the number of OSHA violations present (coincidentally, or not, it was and still is owned by BP). What happened was that a system used for increasing the octane rating for gasoline overflowed, causing massive amounts of vapors to cover the area (this could only end well), because an overflow alarm was disabled. When they realized something was wrong, they opened a discharge valve, which overheated the heated stuff they released, which sent a large gas bubble, back into the tower that had overflowed, which caused a spewing of liquids and more vapors. The final straw was when a contractor tried to start his new truck several times (explosive fumes and internal combustion engines are always a good mix, yeah?), which, when the hydrocarbon level got low enough for ignition, created a spark that caused the fumes to ignite in a ball of fire, killing 17 people. Several things that could have been done to prevent, or at least reduce the scope of the disaster were not done, including replacing the atmospheric blowdown system with one that would safely burn off the gasses. OSHA cited BP $21 million, for 300 violations after the incident.
One of the reasons oil rigs and coal mines are dangerous is because it is hard to get a safety inspector out to them without the managers warning the crew. The inspector has to take a helicopter or a boat out to an oil rig, and coal mines usually have only one entrance.
Many of the factories in China where subcontractors make electronics, particularly Foxconn's (a major supplier of Apple for iPads and iPhones). There was an explosion in one of Foxconn's factories caused by its simple lack of ventilation.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 was one of the instigators of this trope. The owners of the factory had locked the doors to prevent the women inside from taking unauthorized breaks, which led to a massive loss of life when a fire broke out inside. The resulting backlash created many of the laws that OSHA would later enforce.
The Hamlet Chicken Processing Plant Fire in Hamlet, NC was an accident waiting to happen. Almost every door to the outside was locked to prevent theft, the fire alarms didn't sound through the entire building, there were no sprinkler systems and the plant had never had a safety inspection. Twenty-five people died and many more were injured because they had no way to escape the smoke and fire, making it North Carolina's worst ever industrial disaster. And lest you think this is yet another example of old-time industry gone wrong, it sadly happened in 1991.
Sulfur mining in Indonesia. The workers there go to the edges of volcanoes and break off chunks of sulfur to sell. They have no gas masks (and all those toxic gases eventually take a toll on their lungs), and they carry the sulfur blocks back to the weighing station on their backs.
San Juanico, near Mexico City. Emergency release valves being screwed tightly down (so they won't ever open) to curtail valve theft, plus an ineffective gas leak system, unmaintained LPG lines... one leak went undetected until the large plume exploded. Which then set off a series of explosions, one of them reading as a 0.5 Richter earthquake, levelling the facility and most of the surrounding town.
3.5, more likely. 0.5 Richter isn't 100 grams of TNT.
A lot of production "facilities" of illegal objects or substances rarely have safety of their employees or customers in mind. Since everyone would be arrested if they were found making the stuff, why follow any government regulations? The customers can't go to any agency to complain of the bad quality drugs they bought, and the primary ingredients are most likely deadly by themselves, who cares what other substances you throw into the product?
This is a common reaction for brazilian safety technicians or representatives when they review non-brazilian facilities. Brazilian work safety laws are very strict.
Late 19th century, early 20th century were not well known for their safety standards, but skyscraper construction had to take the cake. Men, using hand tools, connecting together giant metal beams together that they were standing ON, without safety harnesses, hundreds of feet in the air.
The Eiffel Tower, Paris (constructed in the 1870s) has publicity shots of workers, completely without safety equipment, leaning off girders hundreds of feet up, waving at the camera. Allegedly- astonishingly- there were no casualties of men working on the Tower.
Astonishingly, this trope was invoked circa 2005 by a photograph of a worker apparently asleep on a girder near the top of the 47-storey Beetham Tower, Manchester, while it was under construction. (He had a hard hat on, but otherwise as unprotected). It wasn't really this trope, though- he was under no obligation to walk onto that ledge and did so at his own risk.)
In 1921, a silo storing about 50000 tons to ammonium sulfate exploded at a BASF plant in Oppau, Germany, leveling the entire town. How did this happen? The workers have been using small sticks of dynamite to loosen chunks of ammonium sulfate (the chemical absrobs water, which turns the entire 50 000 tons of the stuff into one rock hard mass). It the miracle that the plant managed to survive for 10 years.
The West, Texas fertilizer plant that exploded in April 2013 was last inspected by OSHA in 1985. It was also storing 1,500 times the legally allowed amount of ammonium nitrate on site. No wonder it went up like a giant box of Roman candles when the thing blew.
Soviet "Mayak" radiochemical plant, built in the late 40s with great haste, is probably even more unsound than the US' Hanford site. Because Soviet Union seriously lagged behind in the nuclear technology at the time, the plant was built with the main goal of producing enough plutonium yesterday, and little regard for safety and/or environmental concern was given, similarly dumping radioactive wastes into the nearby rivers and lakes. Also, as little was then known on the nuclear materials properties, there was a great difficulty of assessing the safety of some of the adopted practices, leading to the number of nuclear accidents, culminating in the so-called "Kyshtym disaster" in the 1957, a nuclear waste storage tank explosion, which released an enormous amount of waste into the atmosphere.
Several "cars" throughout history, such as pickup trucks, the G-wiz, and the Reliant Robin dodged safety regulations made for cars by not technically being cars, such as pick-up trucks legally being trucks, the always crashing Reliant Robin technically being a motorcycle (because it has three wheels), and the death trap that is the G-wiz for being so slow and weak it counts as a "heavy quadbike".
A growing discontentment in Britain concerns health and safety regulations being taken beyond the bounds of the sensible and necessary, and being taken to a ludicrous extreme that has forgotten what Health and Safety is actually for. The suspicion is that not only is it bureaucracy for its own sake, it is there not so much to protect the worker as to protect managements against litigation, to satisfy insurance companies, or to make work for lawyers. A legitimate criticism is that when every conceivable procedure requires a risk assessment - even things as trivial as replacing a dud light bulb where surely common sense should apply - employees will simply switch off, go through the motions, and disregard everything, the important stuff as well as the silly. There is a distinct risk here of information overload.
this is a list of Health and Safety decisions that appear to take it too far and defy common sense.