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, safety switches in awkward places far from the machinery they control (assuming that there are any safety switches or that they're even functional), 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.
In short, if the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or the local counterpart in non-American/European settings) ever saw the place, it would be condemned in seconds. Sometimes, the story will Hand Wave this by referring to the factory as "abandoned." However, it will never be explained why it hasn't been demolished yet, why it still receives electricity, or why all the machinery is present and operable as if it's itching to be the setting of a climactic showdown.
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 Usually all the crushing, spiking, and burning machinery will be left to run unattended; but if this is not the case, they will all be activated by a single exposed switch placed on a bare stretch of wall.
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 Karate Kid (1984), 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. 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.
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 and Railing Kill are subtropes.
Rule 87 of the Evil Overlord List gives advice on how to avoid this and if you're plotting to rule the world, you should heed its advice.
This has nothing to do with the lack of approval without accompanying a certain Wildling to go beyond The Wall. Then again, their world is not a safe place either. It also has nothing to do with Oshawott's Pokémon Speak.
- 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?"
- The Para-mails in Cross Ange are a very much invoked example. The Norma who are tasked with piloting them are discriminated against and therefore considered expendable by the society subjecting them to their lot.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- Evangeline's "resort":
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!
- Worse than that. While it's technically a private residence for people who have no need to fear falling... it's a private residence in a pocket dimension, in the form of an often sunlight-flooded tower surrounded by open water, deliberately designed to house a vampire in comfort. This isn't "somebody forgot about safety standards", it's out-and-out Malevolent Architecture.
- 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...
- Technically, one of the students is aware of all of this. That's because she is the vampire.
- Library Island, the school's library and Japan's largest repository of dangerous magical books and a few monstrous creatures. You need grappling hooks, rappelling clips and spikes, a minimum of three people, and hopefully some sort of hovering device and an eleven-foot pole... And that's before you get to even the most basic of magical books!
- Evangeline's "resort":
- In 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 battleship 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.)
- Yu-Gi-Oh!; Let's see, where to start...
- To begin with, Duelist Kingdom. The island (which is somewhere in the South Pacific, in the middle of nowhere) is barely adequate for a dueling tournament. No facilities to provide for food or hygienic needs (as mentioned in one episode) and the stations have flame thrower devices that the special Eliminators can access. It's a wildfire waiting to happen. The castle is a little better, although the roof and balconies (where Yugi faces Kaiba) have no guardrails or anything else that could prevent an accidental death from a fall. (Or someone trying to do it on purpose). And speaking of whom...
- Dueling atop a flying zeppelin may be dramatic, but again, no safety precautions whatsoever. Jonouchi nearly falls to his doom right before the duel with Rashid. Not to mention Kaiba is way too mule headed and concerned with gaining the God Cards to order it to land, even if three contestants are unconscious and possibly dying. Alcatraz is just as bad; it's a tower built on a demolition site, designed to resemble a shining tower rising out of a ruin to symbolize Kaiba's triumph. Dramatic again, but not exactly safe.
- The Old Momentum Reactor in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, 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; it's 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 in which people's souls are on the line.
- While Pokémon's anime tends to skip the Gym puzzles, it still has some clear examples — Koga (all kinds of ninja traps), Blaine (a dormant volcano, and later a lava pit), and Clemont (whose stand-in robot literally threw unworthy or losing challengers out of the very high Prism Tower) standing out. The last one was acknowledged and ultimately fixed.
- Spoofed in Himouto! Umaru-chan: Alex and Umaru play a Dating Sim set in a former mining town where stuff randomly blows up because apparently there are old sticks of dynamite just lying around everywhere. And nobody questions this.
- Trigun has multiple examples, but the biggest one is the sand steamer, a massive land ship. If the vehicle is pushed to unsafe speeds, the brake controls fail and the boiler overloads. There's no way to shut down or vent the boiler from the control room. The room with the emergency reset switch is behind a door that's shut with heavy bolts that are so stiff it takes multiple people pushing on the wrench to unscrew them, and there's at least eight. The room itself has no ventilation and becomes so hot that protective suits must be worn. It's filled with a maze of steam pipes so dense that an adult human can't fit through them. The pipes are so hot that they instantly cause second or third degree burns through heavy-duty protective garments if touched. Brilliant Dynamite Neons' plan to crack the steamer open to get at the contents of the safe seems frankly redundant, the whole ship is in danger of doing that all on its own.
- The roofs for the school buildings in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War lack proper fencing. This is especially conspicuous after the light novel revealed that the principal personally knew somebody back when he was a student who died after falling off of one of those very roofs.
- 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 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 '50s, and at the time, nuclear safety really was almost this crude. To be fair, the scientist responsible for this monumental stupidity realized just how much of an idiot he had been even as he was explaining it to the soon-to-be-deceased John Osterman.
- The origin of The Joker in Batman involved falling into a vat of some unspecified acid at Ace Chemicals, 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 in trouble with OSHA. Some versions of Two-Face's origin also involve this trope.
- In the Superman/Supergirl story Krypton No More, Superman looks into the case of a plastic fabric which makes vinyl chloride -a known carcinogen- when a worker tells him of the non-existent safety standards:
Milton: Like I tell ya, Mr. Kent the company knows that this vinyl chloride we work with may cause cancer It knows that some of the guys are dying 'cause they work with the stuff yet they don't do nuthin' ! No safety standards No special benefits Nuthin!
- In Kryptonite Nevermore, Professor Bolden was going to test a potentially dangerous Kryptonite engine... and his only apparent security measure was Superman -the same guy who is killed by kryptonite radiation- paying attention to his experiment and saving them.
- One of the earliest Superman comics had him dealing with a mine owner who couldn't be bothered to properly maintain the safety equipment in his mines until Superman tricked him into spending some time in said mine and then orchestrated a cave-in so the owner could experience just what life was like in a decidedly unsafe mine (This issue predated the existence of OSHA by nearly 40 years, but the point still stands.
- In Supergirl Vol 2 issue #1, Kara bursts through a factory's wall to save two workers. A bucket's guide-chain snapped and poured a shower of molten steel on them. Fortunately, she shielded them.
- In the Superman/Supergirl story Krypton No More, Superman looks into the case of a plastic fabric which makes vinyl chloride -a known carcinogen- when a worker tells him of the non-existent safety standards:
- Goosebumps: Download and Die! ends with the protagonists throwing Slappy into their school's telescopic gym bleachers, which start to crush him. When Slappy points out that "these rickety pieces of junk always have safety measures", a characters counters with, "Not if they were made in the 90s."
- 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?"
- As this Fan Fic Rant reminds,
Labcoats, gloves, goggles; these things aren't just there to look good / 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 to the Star Trek warp drives. This was mostly a concern of speed, as Hyperdrives are far faster, but one Imperial Captain stated, "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.
- Averted in Sophistication and Betrayal, where the protagonist's safety headgear actually saves his life in a construction accident.
- Mocked and lampshaded at two points in Star Wars Paranormalities.
Zolph: "By the Force! I'm really beginning to feel bad for the poor souls who worked here."
- 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.
- In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Blaine had his Gym inside the Cinnabar Island volcano, as shown above in the anime entry. However, many trainers complained about almost losing a Pokémon in the hot lava, so the Pokémon League forced him to relocate to a safe traditional building.
- In Under the Bridge, some of the moving machinery parts inside the attack submarine Albacore are left completely open. The character originally known as The Gray Mouse who has designed and built Albacore reconsiders this when a young sailor gets his ankle caught in a drive chain and injured. Then again, this incident really kicks off her Character Development and eventual HeelFace Turn from Big Bad into a Byronic Hero.
- In A Young Woman's Political Record, Germanian submarines are insanely faster than their Albion equivalents and can stay submerged for far longer thanks to swapping out their original engines for reactors based on hydrogen peroxide. Those reactors also make the subs tremendously prone to exploding, to the point the fact that the one shown at a presentation for Albish observers didn't explode was treated as a small miracle. Also, Dr. Schugel and his entire line of research can produce absurdly advanced technology... which has to go through a lengthy period of refitting and additional testing so the safety features Schugel himself never contemplated can be properly implemented.
- 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 human users. Autochthon's inhabited interior isn't any safer.
- Paranoia tabletop role-playing game: Life in the dystopian Alpha 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.
- Robo Rally revolves around robots who race for their lives in a factory full of lasers, crushers, Conveyor Belt o' Doom, and so on...
- 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.
- Warhammer 40,000: Some of the artwork 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.
- Played with in the Adeptus Mechanicus: it's implied that much of the rituals are actually timing methods for the various machines. They often coincide with exactly how long it takes a machine to boot up, for example. This is done in such a way that while the Techpriest might not understand what he is doing, the thought of an angry machine spirit is fear enough that he will never stray from protocol. Given that an angry machine spirit usually reacts by malfunctioning, it's unknown if the precursors to the Ad Mechs actually implemented the ritualization knowing his people will devolve into religious fanatics, or if it's just a massive misunderstanding in the first place.
- Ork technology, on the other hand, runs this completely straight. Their technology is slipshod and crudely cobbled together, their extremely tough physiques' ability to quickly recover from crushed fingers, severe burns or electrocution gives them little incentive to prevent such things from occurring, and their Meks routinely decorate their creations with spinning metal parts, arcing electricity, hissing steam vents and the like solely because they think they look better that way.
- In BattleTech, the Clans have this reputation. Since they're a caste-based society, the warriors (the top caste) have utter disdain for the safety of technicians and laborers. When one technician defected to the Inner Sphere, he was utterly shocked by both the amount of safety equipment that techs were given to do their jobs and by the fact that when there was an accident, medics were immediately rushed out to save the victim's life. Heck, the Clans were like this from their very earliest days, according to Historical: Operation Klondike. One interlude in that book is a message from a plant manager venting about the human consequences of the warriors' demand for more and more military material in the buildup to the retaking of the Pentagon Worlds:
Every team on every shift has been working overtime FOR TWO YEARS. OF COURSE there's going to be accidents and quality control problems. WE JUST LOST THIRTEEN MEN because of an accident that COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED! I TOLD THEM six months ago that we needed to shut down the lines one shift every week for maintenance. And what did they do? They threatened me and my family if I didn't keep the lines running at full speed. I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner. And now that it did happen? They don't give a good goddamn that thirteen men are dead and twenty-three more are going to be in the hospital for months. They don't even realize that half a shift is GONE, or that it'll take MONTHS to get the plant operational again. We still have to make quota. They only care about their precious goddamn equipment. The HELL with the rest of us.
- Action Park was infamous for having poorly-designed and tested rides... which, obviously, led to many injuries and some deaths. It's a wonder it managed to stay open for almost two full decades.
- In Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios, Gru's inner-factory is filled with giant blades, rotating screws, toxic goo, and fire everywhere.
- The priceless Fairy Castle dollhouse assembled by Hollywood actress Colleen Moore is an invoked example: the professional architect who designed it wanted its layout to be whimsical, not functional. This includes this freestanding staircase in the Great Hall◊ that only winged fairies could ever be expected to risk traversing, given its lack of railings.
- Hadriex: From time to time he gets a good jab in when he encounters these sorts of areas, but this scene takes the cake.
- A Let's Play of The Legend of Zelda Parallel Worlds had some fairly funny discussion of this trope. Including a short parody of Stairway to Heaven.
- Brought up in Cracked's 6 Sci-Fi Movie Conventions (That Need to Die) article. Sure, electronics spewing sparks when the ship's hit is dramatic, but why does the ship have such dangerous electronics in the first place?
- 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.
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.
- 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:
- 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 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" even when he was "still blind", mind you), 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.
- The Rifftrax for The Avengers mentions this trope by name by pointing out how lousy Loki's makeshift headquarters is.
"Darn supervillains and their disregard for OSHA!"
- This typically tends to bug the Yogscast when they play Minecraft together:
- Ridgedog's efforts to build a working nuclear reactor with a third of the needed materials work... but it isn't wise to stand right next to.
- In Moonquest, featuring Lewis Brindley, Simon Lane and Duncan Jones, the trio managed to (deep breath) use a pool of lava as a light source on the moon and nearly burn to death (the episode in which this happened was even named "Health and Safety Nightmare"), fall into the smelter a few times which resulted in at least one death, put electric fences right next to the front door and get themselves killed again (also supercharging creepers, which did damage to the base) and finally put down a working rocket with fuel loaded in their factory which subsequently destroys it and the surrounding area.
- Played with in Sjin's Farm, in which Sjin and Lewis Brindley have a giant chasm next to their plot of land, which is covered in barley and thus obscured from view. During the time when it is left as is, Sjin falls in at least twice, losing their horse at one point when he forgets to rescue it. They eventually cover it up with dirt, solving the problemnote .
- In Cornerstone, numerous problems arise from the island being in the middle of the air. Town members keep falling off the edge, though gliders mean that these falls are mostly a minor inconvenience. The exit to the "Mile High Club" room (that Hat Films built) is a drop straight down onto land, meaning that the oblivious Sips falls to his death. Furthermore, expanding the island proves troublesome when Hat Films forget to lay torches down, causing mobs to spawn and rush the players.
- Radham Academy in Twig has a very simple policy in case of escaped experiments in the Bowels: Seal off the area with giant stone blocks, send in Gorger, wait a few days, then cleanse it with fire and chemical weapons before letting Gorger out. Some scientists not getting out in time is considered regrettable but a necessary sacrifice. This reportedly happens every few weeks or so.
- DSBT InsaniT: Several of the exhibits in 'Untamed and Uncut' do not have the proper fencing to keep the guests and the animals separated. For example, the Windear exhibit is only blocked off by bars.
- In Film Theory, MatPat not only concludes that Willy Wonka's factory from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was an unsafe, unsanitary death trap that would face serious OSHA penalties, but theorizes Willy Wonka knew this, and given that the movie takes place about the same time OSHA was first implemented, the whole Golden Ticket contest was likely a scheme he could use to pawn off his factory onto some unsuspecting rube, where the poor sucker would be on the hook for potentially millions of dollars a day until all the issues are fixed when the laws would come into effect.
- The Honest Trailers for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory includes a song to the tune Pure Imagination sung by Michael Bolton titled, The 'This Factory is a Lawsuit Waiting to Happen' Song. (It is quoted fully on the Quotes page.)