Follow TV Tropes


No OSHA Compliance / Literature

Go To

  • 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."
  • Some parts of the eponymous factory in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are pretty dangerous. Part of the problem is that Willy Wonka is an incredibly eccentric person and is obsessed with attractive aesthetics ("I insist upon my rooms being beautiful!") over safety issues, and it's also possible that he doesn't care that much about the latter given his near-indifference to the accidents his guests get themselves into.
  • Advertisement:
  • Discworld: The climactic confrontation in Feet of Clay takes place in a screamingly dangerous candle factory, in a medievalesque parody of the factory scene from The Terminator. Justified in that Ankh-Morpork laughs in the face of any kind of health or safety regulation.
  • Domina: Played with. When Adam lures the Composer into Zero Forge, he finally defeats her (for the moment) by knocking her into a giant vat of liquid nitrogen. Zero Forge has a bunch of them just lying around. However, they have dozens of failsafes and safeties to keep people from just falling in; Adam has to manually disable a few things before MC is able to hack in and open the lid on one of the vats.
  • In Eden Green, the main characters visit an alternate world from which horrifying needle monsters are invading, and explore a mountain once occupied by an alien civilization. The tunnels sometimes run along the outside of the mountains, with no handrails; the title character even points out how dangerous this is.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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.
  • Harry Potter:
    • 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. Plus it's right next to a monster-infested forest filled with dangerous creatures that include xenophobic centaurs, giant spiders, and possibly werewolves. 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.
    • Advertisement:
    • The Ministry of Magic possesses a vast storeroom of magical artifacts, many of which are apparently quite dangerous, that are just haphazardly stacked on flimsy shelves. They also have a veiled archway which is apparently a direct portal to the afterlife. Said archway is simply left sitting on a dais without so much as a single railing around it to prevent someone from accidentally stumbling through it.
    • The wizarding world in general seems to be pretty lax about very weird accidents and rather dangerous beings and artifacts. Somewhat justified in that magic has a mind of its own and you're not going to be able to plan for all the ways it will go wrong, but nobody seems to consider taking even the simplest actions to reduce the possibility. Magic might be able to heal a great number of injuries, but it can't bring people back from the dead.
  • The issue is averted in Swedish dieselpunk 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.
  • 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 were very few non-hazardous industrial jobs, since there are few if any motives to keep low-level employees safe and healthy; the wisdom that comes with being with a company for a long time didn't count for much. As soon as one worker got sick or injured, there were hundreds if not thousands of desperate immigrants lined up at the factory gates to take his place.
  • 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 Lord of the Rings: In The Fellowship Of The Ring, the Fellowship has to cross the bridge of Khazad-dûm in Moria, which is right above a huge chasm with no rails or walls, wide enough for just one person. It's justified since the route was just the "back door" and the bridge is a defensive measure against orc or goblin attack. The attacking army would be forced to go single file at a snail's pace to avoid tripping, while the dwarves could pelt them with arrows from a safe position. The main entrance has a massive, magically reinforced gate instead.
  • The Master Key: Rob crossed his entire bedroom floor with live wires. How is he still alive?!
  • Pile-Up from Parellity, a city built by bandits and marauders.
  • Lampshaded, just like everything else in the book, in Redshirts, when an emergency door is closed by shooting the lock panel, much to the incredulity of one of the characters, who retorts that the space station "one big code violation."
  • The third book of Septimus Heap features a narrow, wobbling bridge without handrails.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • In the Star Wars Rebels prequel novel, A New Dawn, this becomes a notable problem in the Gorse system. Thorilide production and mining weren't exactly safe jobs to begin with (especially the part about baradium-bisulfate being transported between Gorse and its moon, Cynda), but they at least had safety procedures. However, once Count Denetrius Vidian came to the system and started prioritizing efficiency over safety, things got worse (and given the Empire's track record with this trope in both canon and Legends, it's not all that surprising). For instance, in the mostly-abandoned Moonglow mining facility on Gorse, the Count suggests that living beings work around exposed acid pools without safety rails (and note that this is on a planet where earthquakes are frequent) — when Moonglow's comparatively sane boss works around the facility's otherwise blatant lack of safety regulations by having droids work around the vats. There are even protests for better worker safety on Gorse. Ironically, Vidian used to be a safety inspector when he was Lemuel Tharsa, but became disillusioned with the job after being in too many non-OSHA compliant facilities and exposed to many dangerous chemicals that ate away his most of his body. In the two-chapter epilogue, most of the miners leave the Gorse system and Vidian's rival, Baron Lero Danthe, decides to just have heat-shielded droids mine the thorilide on Gorse's uninhabitable sunny side.
    • The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher (a retelling of The Empire Strikes Back in the style of William Shakespeare) has a scene in which two Mooks discuss this. Apparently, the Empire's building codes require the existence of large, railing-free pits next to pedestrian areas in the middle of all major buildings. They decide it's intended as a giant boast: the Empire has no OSHA compliance because they laugh in the face of death.
  • Star Wars Legends: Death Star the novel by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry. Bureaucratic incompetence and slave labor combine to create a really unsafe Death Star. Are you going to make your evil master's starbase safe?
    • The architect 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.
  • While it's not the site of a fight scene, the eponymous 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. (Of course, in real life, all this would accomplish would be killing the yard teacher, but the Rule of Funny rules at Wayside.)

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: