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No OSHA Compliance in Real Life.

  • 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.
  • The United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has published a number of videos describing, in detail, the various ways that industrial processes involving hazardous or flammable substances can go very, very wrong.
  • In the United States, railroads and other rail transit systems are explicitly not covered by OSHA with regulation instead falling to other State and Federal agencies. This means that all sorts of operating practices that would be prohibited in a normal workplace, like riding on the outside of a moving 100 ton freight car, are still par for the course on railroads.
    • The original design of New York City IND division subway cars involved the conductor riding between the cars to open and close the doors at stations. This sort of operating practice was still common up through the late 1960s when the R-1/9 cars were started to be replaced and would need to be carried out at each station even in the rain, snow and ice.
    • Notably US railroads follow rules that are very different from those followed by most in Asia and virtually all in Europe. Whether that is a good or a bad thing (and whether some rules are actually good for safety) is Serious Business among rail enthusiast circles.
  • By all accounts, the Hanford Nuclear Research Facility is a mass of random radioactive chemical dumps, some of which are uncatalogued. 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. Because the facility was founded in the 1940s, it long predates any best practices for nuclear waste. Recently they found the second-oldest known (artificial) plutonium in a glass jar buried in a safe. In a normal waste dump. Oral accounts mention 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. Groundwater contamination is the current focus, lest contamination reach the Columbia River before the cleanup can stop it. The cleanup contractors are making some headway, just not enough. The populations of Benton, Franklin, Columbia and Walla Walla counties are bracing for the worst.
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  • The Fairchild Semiconductor Superfund site, and the whole semiconductor industry, is infamous for this as large volumes of toxic gas (sulphuric acid, among other things) and electrical power are required for production. The EPA and OSHA initiated a massive crackdown that cleaned up US plants, but some companies operate plants in countries with less stringent regulation that are surrounded by dead grass.
  • In theatre, people doing stupid or dangerous things for expediency's sake, such as climbing a tree 30 feet in the air or wandering around on catwalks without harnesses, are referred to as "making the OSHA whale cry", or in severe cases "killing the OSHA whale".
  • Visual Kei in Japan has huge issues with performer safety. Here's just a few of them:
    • Many performers and artists are self-trained, train as roadies or similar apprentices, and/or by mimicking their favorite artist — as opposed to having professional training in playing their instrument for example, with focus on proper technique so as not to injure themselves. This generally works out okay for guitarists and bassists (since there really aren't many ways to injure your body playing a guitar or bass that are preventable via technique) but for singers, improper technique can destroy your voice or large ranges of it, and for drummers, sufficiently improper technique = broken or damaged neck and/or major damage to one's arms and wrists. It doesn't help that injurious technique doesn't preclude people from being the very best at what they do — cue drummers mimicking Yoshiki and singers mimicking Kyo, and getting the same injuries both have.
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    • Alcohol, tobacco, and other substances are very common in Visual Kei, especially in the original Japanese scenes. This leads to everything from drunken accidents to a very high rate of alcoholism and an even higher one of smoking, overdoses on substances, police activity related to substances or drinking too much, and similar.
    • Vehicle travel, especially for small bands or bands just starting out, but even sometimes for bigger ones, often consists of sticking the least drunk/least sleepy/most wired up on speed/actually licensed driver bandman or roadie behind the wheel as opposed to hiring outside, guaranteed-sober drivers. The results are often fatal, with vehicle crashes being a large reason for band deaths.
    • The use of pyro is often not very well-monitored/safe — even some of the biggest bands with the most professional crews have had pyro accidents or close calls. The same goes for water/water effects near electrified equipment or that could cause fall hazards.
    • Stage makeup and hair dye/hairspray/hair gel and the like can be toxic or have effects on skin or hair that is long-lasting and damaging. Many of the more elaborate types of clothing are also highly flammable — not something good to be combined with pyro.
  • Flawed design and operator error were the major causes of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
    • While Soviet safety regulations would have made OSHA wince, even by local standards the reactor had some serious design flaws because the lead engineer building the plant had no previous training in nuclear science, he just built dams. Even with these design flaws and the Chernobyl accident as a precedent for catastrophic failure, there are still at least 12 reactors of the same design still operating in Russia and Lithuania. They're pretty safe as long as they're only used in exactly the way intended, but best laid plans and all...
      • Because it was so large, the reactor had been constructed with only partial containment to reduce costs. This was 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 of the limited containment, the radioactive contaminants escaped into the atmosphere after the steam explosion burst the primary pressure vessel.
      • The reactor also had been running continuously for over a year, and had built up large amounts of dangerous fission by-products. The day of the disaster was its scheduled maintenance shutdown, which was considered a good time to run a test for some possible upgrades. The shutdown was delayed because another Ukrainian power plant went offline and Chernobyl's output was needed to compensate. The test should have in turn been postponed to the next day so it could be handled by the day shift technicians who'd been specifically briefed for it, instead of simply being handed to the unprepared night shift.
      • The graphite-tipped control rods and their insertion system were designed in such a way as to temporarily displace some coolant when inserted, resulting in a dramatic increase in the reaction rate for the first few seconds of activation instead of the desired reduction. This was intended to reduce latency during operation, but meant that insertion was much more unpredictable than the operators realized.
    • The other major cause was the under-trained technicians operating the reactor in unintended ways and ignoring warnings from the plant's computer systems. A 1993 re-assessment focused less on operator error than the initial 1986 report, as it turned out that the Soviet authorities had overstated how many test parameters were actually prohibited by regulations when the test was designed. However, the technicians were unambiguously guilty of initiating the test while the reactor was still in the wrong configuration, and of making unauthorized changes to the test procedure.
    • The initial containment of the slagged reactor at Chernobyl was also seriously flawed. A large concrete sarcophagus was built around the plant and the fuel rods ejected in the explosion were shoveled back in by workers in HazMat suits before it was sealed. Due to time constraints (you kinda have to rush when you're dealing with a ton of radioactive fuel) and the Soviet government's attempts to suppress knowledge of the disaster, the construction was not sound and the perimeter of the sarcophagus is no longer safe. (The sarcophagus was also built literally on top of the existing reactor building, whose structural integrity has been declining since the disaster.) The Ukrainian government, stuck with the cleanup after the collapse of the USSR, is asking Russia and the European Union for funds to build a second containment sarcophagus around the first. Let's face it, if the first sarcophagus 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 (2001) you'll find out just how much crap the meat and fast food industry got away with.
  • China: where electronic equipment waste goes to die, be dismantled, and burned, exposing workers to loads of horrible toxic materials, and then be made into children's toys shipped back to the US. China still permits certain products that are strictly illegal in Europe and North America, such as lead pigments and battery cells without any kind of fail-safe.
  • Union Carbide's chemical plant in Bhopal, India, site of the worst industrial disaster in history. The initial accident was caused by rusty pipes and lack of a chemical scrubber, allowing water to enter a vessel containing chemicals that are safe only when dry. The effects of the accident were compounded because the plant was processing chemicals far more volatile than it had been designed to handle, UC International had ordered safety measures that UC India had not implemented, but Indian government inspectors signed off on the plant anyway, management kept firing the most experienced workers and most of their replacements were hired without proper training, and the plant was built next to a major population center without an emergency evacuation plan. Union Carbide's parent company Dow Chemical claims to this day that the leak was caused by a disgruntled worker's act of sabotage. The CEO of Union Carbide, Warren Anderson, fled back to the US to avoid prosecution or vigilante reprisals. Even if the sabotage theory were true, this trope would still apply as no major chemical plant should ever be designed so that a single low-level employee can cause catastrophic damage.
  • OSHA's records claim that, in the last three years, the BP oil company had 760 willful safety violations in their US facilities alone. They are currently listed as an egregious violator by OSHAnote , and they are likely still in business only because of their immense financial resources.
    • To put that in perspective, another company racked up a grand total of 12, and most companies had willful violation records in the single digits.
    • Clean-up workers for the BP oil spill were not allowed to wear respirators, as BP felt that it would look bad in photographs. Their grasp of PR is a bit shaky.
    • Their subcontractor TransOcean had more than 100 major incidents in 2010, yet still called it their safest year yet. note 
  • The Allied Colloids fire in Bradford, U.K on the 21st of July 1992 wasn't as near as damaging as other instances of no OSHA compliance, but what happened - well, it's a doozy. First a chemical, AZDNnote , was stored too close to a steam heating line. So the barrels crack and there is a spill. Bad enough? We've only just started. So they thought they had the spill under control, when there is a hissing noise. Some of the AZDN had spilled onto some SPS note (sorry for the Acronyms). The SPS set on fire, then flashed over. The fire was basically a raging inferno that wrecked the warehouse that it was in. It took the local fire brigade - plus others from the surrounding area - the whole of the afternoon to put out the fire, and the wrecked warehouse had to have a presence from the local fire brigade for the next 18 days to put out any residual fires. Although no-one died, the pollution was widespread and pervasive, contaminating the Spen river that flowed into the Aire and Calder rivers. What made it no OSHA compliance? The AZDN shouldn't have been within 50 yards of any SPS in the first place. AZDN is not an oxidising chemical. SPS is and never the twain shall meet. The documentation was so wrong it was specifically mentioned in the Health and Safety report. As was the fact that the warehouse was in breach of the regulations for fire safety anyway. And that they waited for 50 minutes trying to tackle the fire themselves before calling the fire brigade. It's a wonder that this isn't a far more horrific entry in the canon of no OSHA compliance. Oh, by the way - Allied Colloids is situated in the middle of a bit of Bradford's leafy suburbia! Sweet dreams, everyone.
  • The 2005 Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal Fire was more of a Failsafe Failure as far as the explosion itself is concerned (a gauge malfunctioned and allowed a tank to overflow), but the decision to build several housing developments in close proximity to a tank farm full of explosive chemicals was a wetware oversight.
  • The Exxon Valdez oil spill was a disaster waiting to happen. At the time, all the oil companies were ignoring regulations with impunity. Several glaring problems were present, including the fact that the vessel's crew had not been given their mandatory rest period after the last shift, the radar on the ship had been broken for more than a year and deemed too expensive to repair, and iceberg monitoring equipment had been promised but never installed.
    • Although he was off-watch at the time of the accident, the ship's captain had a known alcohol problem and a history of drinking on the job — and indeed, the night of the spill he was sleeping off five double vodka tonics. While he was NOT the one directly responsible for the accident, the fact that he was still in charge of an oil tanker says a lot about the company's approach to safety.
  • The Texas City Refinery Explosion was a textbook case judging by the 300 OSHA violations cited ex post facto (and the $21 million fine). Coincidentally, or not, it was and still is owned by BP. A system used for increasing the octane rating for gasoline overflowed, causing vapors to cover the area, because an overflow alarm was disabled. When the workers realized something was wrong, they opened a discharge valve, which overheated the material released, which sent a large gas bubble back into the tower that had overflowed, which caused further liquid and vapor spills. The final straw was when a contractor left his pickup truck idling nearby, causing the diesel engine to race as the hydrocarbon vapors entered the intake until it finally backfired, causing the gases and vapors to ignite in a ball of fire that killed 17 people. Several measures that could have prevented, or at least reduced the scope of, the disaster were not taken, including replacing the ventilation system with one that would safely burn off the gases and using a mobile home parked right next to the unit as a control room when standards called for double-walled cinderblock buildings a hundred feet away.
    • Decades before, in 1947, Texas City had an even larger explosion. It started like this: A Liberty ship moored to a pier was loading sacks of ammonium nitrate intended as fertiliser. It wasn't even fully loaded yet, and it had 2,500 tons aboard piled up in huge stacks of sacks — no compartmentation, no distribution of the mass into separate bodies. Nobody at the scene understood the explosive nature of ammonium nitrate (despite a history of ammonium nitrate explosions). Ammonium nitrate, in humid air, can begin to self-ignite, which this load began to do. So the captain followed a time-honoured procedure: he had the holds sealed and pumped full of live steam to extinguish the fire. Not only did he not know the explosive nature of what he was carrying, he didn't know (even though chemists could have told him it was old news) that the resulting combination of heat, pressure, and moisture would make the nitrate even more unstable. So … *boom*. Oh, it gets worse. Texas City was a massive conglomeration of just about every possible industrial product that could burn or explode, with safety precautions and procedures being about as rigorous as cooked noodles. The pier that the Grandcamp was moored to? Only a couple of hundred feet from the fence line of a petroleum refinery, and a few hundred yards from a tank farm. Oh, and the warehouse from which it was being loaded? Conveniently right next to the dock, with who only knows how much nitrate standing there in sacks. On the other side? A paint factory loaded with all kinds of volatile solvents. Next pier? Another freighter chock full of ammonium nitrate… The explosion was so large it hurled the Grandcamp's two-ton anchor nearly two miles. It's now regarded as the seventh-largest non-nuclear explosion in history, and also led to the first ever class-action lawsuit in the US.
  • One of the reasons oil rigs and coal mines are dangerous is because it is hard to perform an unannounced inspection. The inspector has to take a helicopter or a boat out to an oil rig, and coal mines usually have only one usable entrance. This gives the operators of the site enough forewarning to cover up any egregious violations that may be going on, only to let them resume after the inspector leaves.
  • Many of the factories in China where subcontractors make electronics, particularly Foxconn (a major supplier of Apple for iPads and iPhones). There was an explosion in one of Foxconn's factories caused by its lack of simple ventilation.
  • The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 helped to create this trope. The owners of the factory had locked the doors to prevent the women inside from taking unauthorized breaks and stealing clothing, which led to a massive loss of life when a fire broke out inside. Many of the women chose to leap to their deaths from upper-floor windows rather than burn 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 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.
    • The saddest thing there is the absolute futility of this whole industry. Nowadays there is so much sulfur produced as a byproduct of the oil industrynote  that the market isn't just saturated, but flooded with pure elemental sulfur,note  so the prices are extremely low, and the business actually teeters on the verge of bankruptcy.
  • 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 5.0 Richter earthquake, levelling the facility and most of the surrounding town. Most of the remains recovered were burned well beyond recognition.
  • A Puerto Rican town had an underground gas explosion in 1996. Why? Enron, the company which supplied the natural gas, did not use the sulfur-based chemical which gives natural gas its characteristic "smell" as a cost-cutting measurenote . A worker down below was testing a ventilation switch, but didn't know there was natural gas in the area because he couldn't smell it. (It's in a book called A Conspiracy of Fools, which is the complete history of Enron from inception to downfall.)
  • Production "facilities" for illegal objects or substances rarely have the 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 about quality control, and the primary ingredients are probably already dangerous enough, so who cares what other substances you throw into the product?
    • Illicit methamphetamine ("meth") labs are infamous for this in southern Appalachia, to the point that some locals joke that most house fires are caused by addicts blowing up their house trying to cook their own meth.
    • It doesn't help that most drug labs, especially meth labs, are staffed by people who have no training in chemistry or hazardous materials handling.
  • 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 and early 20th century construction projects were not well known for their safety standards, but skyscrapers took the cake. Men, using hand tools, connecting 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 1880s) has publicity shots of workers, completely without safety equipment, leaning off girders hundreds of feet up, waving at the camera.
    • 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 was unprotected.
  • In 1921, a silo storing about 50,000 tons of mixture of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate (that thing people use to make explosives out of) exploded at a BASF fertilizer plant in Oppau, Germany, leveling the entire town. How did this happen? Compared to ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate is strongly hygroscopic, so the mixture of ammonium sulfate and nitrate clogged together under the pressure of its own weight, turning it into a plaster-like substance in the 20 m high silo. The workers needed to use pickaxes to get it out, a problematic situation because they could not enter the silo and risk being buried in collapsing fertilizer. To ease their work, small charges of dynamite were used to loosen the mixture. This apparently suicidal procedure was in fact common practice. It was well known that ammonium nitrate was explosive – it had been used extensively as such during World War I – but tests conducted in 1919 had seemed to indicate that mixtures of ammonium sulfate and nitrate containing less than 60% nitrate were unlikely to explode. On such grounds, the material handled by the plant, nominally a 50/50 mixture, was considered stable enough to be stored in 50,000-tonne lots - more than ten times the amount involved in the disaster. Indeed, nothing extraordinary happened during an estimated 20,000 firings, until the fateful explosion on September 21. The workers had been using small sticks of dynamite to clean the holding tanks (the chemical absorbs water to form a single rock-hard mass). It was a miracle that the plant managed to survive for 10 years. As everyone involved died in the explosion, the causes are not clear. However, it is known from work more recent than the above-mentioned 1919 tests that the "less than 60% nitrate = safe" criterion is inaccurate; in mixtures containing 50% nitrate, any explosion of the mixture is confined to a small volume around the initiating charge, but increasing the proportion of nitrate to 55-60% significantly enhances the explosive properties and creates a mixture whose detonation is sufficiently powerful to initiate detonation in a surrounding mixture of a lower nitrate concentration which would normally be considered minimally explosive. Changes in humidity and density also significantly affect the explosive properties. A few months before the incident, the manufacturing process had been changed in such a way as to lower the humidity level of the mixture from 3-4% to 2%, and also to lower the apparent density. Both these factors rendered it more likely to explode. There is also evidence that the lot of mixture in question was not of uniform composition and may have contained pockets of up to several dozen tonnes of mixture enriched in ammonium nitrate. The explanation is therefore proposed that one of the charges was by chance placed in such a pocket, which exploded with sufficient violence to set off some of the surrounding lower-nitrate mixture.
  • 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 legal limit of ammonium nitrate on site. No wonder it went up like a giant box of Roman candles.
  • The Russian Mayak radiochemical plant is probably even more unstable than the Hanford site. Because the Soviet Union was far behind the US in nuclear science in the 1940s, the plant was built with the main goal of producing enough plutonium, and held little regard for workplace or environmental safety, dumping radioactive wastes into nearby bodies of water. Little was known at the time about the properties of nuclear materials, leading to a series of nuclear accidents that culminated in 1957 with the so-called "Kyshtym disaster", an explosion of stored nuclear waste which released a huge cloud of radioactive particles.
    • Even prior to the Kyshtym disaster, about 2/3rds of the population in villages immediately near the Mayak cite had chronic radiation sickness. Doctors called it "the special disease". Specifically, Soviet authorities forbade doctors from diagnosing anyone with any type of radiation poisoning, because of their "nothing to see here, radiation is perfectly safe" PR campaigns. The doctors knew what was wrong, but they weren't allowed to tell anyone, and they were pretty much only allowed to use placebo treatments, instead of treatments that could've actually helped. "Special disease" was a code that was a sort of "open secret" among the doctors.
    • Starting in 1951, waste from Mayak was dumped in a nearby lake, Lake Karachay. The plan had been to sieve the waste back out and dump it into vats at Mayak - but it was too radioactive to do that safely. The radioactivity decreases with time, and for a while the waste was contained to the lake. But starting in the 1960s, the lake began to dry out. Result: Wind-blown radioactive dust. So in the 1980s the lake bottom was covered by dumping a large assemblage of concrete blocks into it - with the workers staying inside the trucks. As of 1990, there were still a few spots so radioactive that an unshielded human would get a lethal dose of radiation in an hour.
  • Several "cars" throughout British history dodged safety regulations intended to apply to most passenger vehicles by not technically being cars. Pick-up trucks fall under the truck safety codes, the crash-prone Reliant Robin is technically a motorcycle because it has three wheels, and the G-wiz has very few safety features because its speed and weight classify it as a "heavy quadbike".
  • There's growing concern in Britain that health and safety regulations are being taken to ludicrous extremes, not so much to protect the worker as to protect management 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 — people will assume that all regulations are equally trivial and neglect the really important measures. This is a list of Health and Safety decisions that appear to go too far.
  • Many professional sports, but especially boxing and ice hockey. In no other field could employers get away with hiring people for jobs that virtually guarantee anyone who works in them regular, often serious injuries. Many fans use this trope to justify the astronomical salaries of professional athletes.
    • American Football started revealing in The New '10s just how many players, former and active, suffered from concussions and brain damage as a result of years of playing. While there have been steps taken to try and reduce the number of injuries, it's still viewed as something that "comes with the job."
    • It probably does not get much more egregious than the following example from the sports world: A player got a concussion in a high profile match and was visibly dizzy and in no state to know where he was, let alone play soccer at any level. The match was broadcast on television and the commentator on German TV actually praised the player for "soldiering on". Apparently neither the commentator, nor the trainer, nor anybody on the medical staff were aware that playing with a concussion or worse yet getting hit again can result in brain damage up to and including death. The player got the concussion in minute 17 and did not get replaced until minute 31. You think this happened in some exhibition game in the Dork Age of soccer decades ago in some minor league in Lampukhistan? Wrong. It happened in the World Cup. In 2014. In the final. No concussion awareness does not begin to describe this reckless endangerment of not only the life of the player himself, but millions in front of the screens who might emulate his stupid example.
      • This is not limited to soccer, as NFL players, coaches and even announcers/commentators will regularly a praise a player who gets injured and returns to the game for his "toughness", even in cases of concussion or limbs that need rest. This creates a culture that pressures players to ignore injuries and criticizes those who refuse to play as weak. (The NFL actually mandates that players take a waiting period after concussions and not return until they meet a standardized set of criteria, because anything less than an absolute requirement wasn't cutting it.) Needless to say, this runs the very real risk of career-ending injuries and a lifetime of medical problems.
    • During a Major League Baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, Orioles manager Earl Weaver requested that the umpires have the grounds crew remove a tarpaulin covering a bullpen pitching mound on the basis that it was a hazard to his left fielder in case he had to make a play. Third base umpire Marty Springstead refused the order and later declared a forfeit after Weaver pulled his team off the field.
    • Professional wrestling is plenty bad as well. When your job is to get punched in the head, falling from heights, and getting hit with a chair, it can cause severe long-term damage. After he murdered his wife and son, doctors examined the brain of Chris Benoit. Repeated blows to the head and neck (often from his flying headbutt and German suplex finishers) had left his brain as damaged as that of an 85 year old man with severe Alzheimer's disease. Like in football and boxing, it's numerous small blows that cause the long-term damage.
    • The biggest factor in the death of Owen Hart. When the regular, safe stunt harness took too long to unhook for his Fall-On-His-Face entrance in rehearsal, he was given a different harness, with no backup line. Even worse, the release clip designed for sail boats and only required five pounds of pressure to release. His widow Martha demonstrates this on Dark Side of the Ring by locking it and releasing it with her thumb.
  • The short-lived Group B class of rally cars had serious safety issues due to the laissez-faire approach on safety, vehicle performance, as well as poor crowd control by event organizers, leading to multiple fatalities in the 1986 World Rally Championship. The cars have become so infamous for this that they are sometimes called Killer B's.
    • At first there weren't any problems, but by 1986, cars on the class had gotten way too powerful for rally courses which was already foreshadowed by the almost fatal crash by Ari Vatanen in Argentina. For reference in 1981, the winning rally cars produced approximately 250hp, but by 1986 some cars were reported to produce well over 500hp. Additionally many of the cars used flammable materials in order to cut down on excess weight, essentially turning them into 500hp Pintos.
    • Rally de Portugal even in the past had serious issues with crowd control or the lack thereof. Throughout 70's and 80's, many spectators were known to stand around on the roadway even when cars were driving past them and near-collisions were frequently reported. Ultimately, in the 1986 WRC this led to predictable results after Ford rally driver Joaquim Santos lost control of his car on a corner. 3 people were killed and over 30 were injured. All the top teams pulled out of the rally in the aftermath.
    • The last nail in the coffin for Group B cars came in Tour de Corse when Lancia driver and the championship favorite, Henri Toivonen, and his co-driver, Sergio Cresto, died in a fatal crash. Another Lancia driver, Attilio Bettega, had already died in a crash on the same course a year earlier, but at the time it was blamed on the harsh conditions rather than the car. Toivonen and many other rally drivers had already expressed concerns about the safety of Group B cars on a difficult course like Tour de Corse. Additionally, Toivonen insisted on driving despite being in poor health due to a fever and was taking medicine at the time of the rally, and, according to fellow driver Malcolm Wilson, had been suffering from blackouts due to a neck injury. Toivonen crashed his car on a tight left corner and the car exploded just seconds after the crash. Due to the flammable materials, only the space frame of the car survived after emergency teams put out the fire and soon after the 1986 championship, Group B cars were permanently banned from WRC.
  • This was the actual reason Van Halen had the famous "no brown M&Ms" clause in their contracts with performing venues; if they found brown M&Ms in their candy bowl, they could order an inspection of the venue's work, up to and including taking off with the money and not performing (which they never actually did do, but the threat was there). This was a spotcheck against slipshod work by venues, testing whether they had read the entirety of the contract. This is understandable knowing that a typical Van Halen show could include pyrotechnics and possibly a flying harness, and was guaranteed to include much in the way of high-end electronics that could be damaged or kill if not properly grounded, or set up in adverse conditions. As per the band, they had found that, without fail, every single venue that had not followed the "no brown M&Ms" clause had also dropped the ball on something far more important.
  • The Boston Molasses Disaster was blamed on "anarchist" terrorists, but in reality was caused by a poorly constructed, overfilled tank plus rapidly rising temperatures. The investigation found that the walls of the molasses tank were only half as thick as they should have been for a tank that size, and the tank had never undergone even the most basic of tests (they hadn't even filled it with water to check for leaks, and when it did leak their solution was...brown paint so it wouldn't show) before being used.
  • The Sampoong Department Store Collapse was caused by the guy hired to build the place, Lee Joon, making multiple changes to the plans that involved things like removing support columns, using only half the reinforcing bars needed for flat slab construction, and basically doing things that made the building unable to support its own weight. Lee Joon did not listen to, and in fact fired, anyone who complained about what he was doing. Lee and the management staff also received multiple warning signs on the day of the collapse that the structure was unstable, but Lee repeatedly refused to shut it down because he didn't want to lose the day's revenue — but left the building himself.
  • Military combat engineers, in most armies, are expected to make very careful records of where they put landmines and little surprises designed to make life tricky for attackers. This is sound practice, as when the war is over or the front line moves on, you need to clean up afterwards, to prevent collateral damage and to retrieve and deactivate the munitions. In the Falklands Islands, British military engineers charged with clean-up after the war were less than happy that their Argentinian counterparts, in defiance of good practice, had set up minefields in a haphazard, random way, and had not kept any sort of record as to where, or as to how many mines they'd used and of what type. To this day, sheep still go "bang" in parts of East Falkland.
    • While what the Argentinians did was bad, it's nothing compared to some idiots back in World War I who invented glass mines (which cannot be detected by metal detectors), buried them somewhere, and then conveniently forgot where they put them. Over a century later some regions on the former Western Front are still inaccessible due to that, and The Laws and Customs of War were actually amended to specifically outlaw any type of mine that cannot be detected (i.e. those made from glass plastic or the likes). Let's hope nobody is ever stupid enough to break this rule.
  • The crash of American Airlines Flight 191 was caused by American Airlines not following the recommended method of replacing the wing mounted engines on DC-10s — namely, instead of removing first the engine and then the mounting pylon with a specialized jack, they've removed them as a unit using a simple forklift. Hand controlled forklift, and if there's a surer way to eventually crack an engine mounting, nobody has found it yet. The investigation revealed American Airlines was not alone in engaging in that practice. Continental Airlines, whose entire long-range fleet consisted of DC-10s, used an identical procedure.
    • However, the concept was sound: United Airlines also removed the engine and the pylon as a unit, but they used an overhead hoist that made the correct positioning of the parts much easier, and, indeed, no United DC-10 showed any damage to pylons, while for American and Continental the damage was endemical. It's a mystery why this much safer and easier procedure wasn't adopted by all airlines, especially as using a forklift was a chore, and was universally hated by the maintenance workers.
  • The Chittagong Ship Breaking Yard. Using powerful tools to dismantle large ships is always hazardous, but the risk for these workers is particularly high because they don't have protective clothing or any other safety equipment.
  • Somewhat inverted with the dangerous but somehow nonfatal paternoster, or "cyclic elevator", an elevator invented in the late 1800s in England. The paternoster is named after the first two words of the Lord's Prayer in Latin (Our Father) in reference to rosary beads, which the paternoster's string of cars resembles. The paternoster consists of a string of cars that are attached to a chain that circulates around two elevator shafts, one going up and the other going down. The elevator cars do not flip over at the top or bottom - they instead stay upright and cycle over to the shaft going the other direction. The paternoster's main claims to infamy are its lack of doors and the fact that it never stops. Yet despite its frightening setup, the paternoster elevator has killed just five people from 1970 to the present day. However, frightened governments have banned the construction of new paternosters, and many building managers have phased out existing ones. Today only around 40 paternosters are left, with none in the US.
    • One of them is in Parliament House of Finland, Helsinki, and used by representatives and civil servants. It is aptly dubbed as Lord Lift. This nickname has become as a neologism in Finnish language to describe the career development of able politicians and civil servants.
  • The Challenger Disaster is a result of this. NASA knew about the flawed rocket booster ahead of time, but it had never caused anything to go wrong prior to the one infamous time it did. It was found that management simply disregarded what the engineers said, and the rest is history.
    • After promising to reform the management culture that was heavily implicated in the Challenger explosion, it was found out later that NASA had not made any fundamental changes regarding the safety culture. This was discovered due to the Columbia disaster and subsequent investigation. Not only was NASA aware of a problem with the foam shedding that could puncture a heat tile, they knew from camera evidence that a piece of foam had potentially impacted a heat tile on that very flight. Management overruled personnel requests for imaging of the shuttle to see if there even was a problem and neglected to inform the crew prior to re-entry. The rationale being that there was nothing they could do about it, which was criticized as an emergency patch via spacewalk was considered viable as was hurrying the next shuttle mission for a rescue (which was pushing it as far as crew resources were concerned).
  • The RMS Titanic was actually a subversion of this, despite what Common Knowledge might tell you. Safety (along with luxury) was a selling point of the Olympic class of liners, so the Titanic was tricked out with every safety measure the builders could think of, and while it's true that she did not have enough lifeboats for all her passengers, she was carrying four more than the law required (maritime regulations called for 16 lifeboats in ships over 10,000 tonnes, and the Titanic had those plus four collapsibles. Problem was, the Titanic happened to be over 50,000 tonnes, so it still wasn't enough). The prevailing concept of lifeboats at the time was that they would be used to shuttle people to rescue ships, as it was assumed such a large ship would sink slowly, so having enough lifeboats for all the passengers to fit into them simultaneously didn't seem necessary. The real problem in the Titanic disaster was the regulations themselves: aside from the well-known problem with the lifeboats, no lifeboat drills were required (and the Titanic never had any), round-the-clock wireless operation was not required (Titanic, being a giant passenger ship, had two operators for round-the-clock duty, but neither the Californian or the Carpathia did- the Carpathia was very lucky to catch the Titanic's distress signal), the meaning of fired rockets was not clearly 'immediate and severe distress', wireless operators were employees of Marconi Wireless and instructed to prioritize passenger messages over weather reports (The Titanic received and basically ignored several iceberg warnings), and iceberg warnings were treated as advisories instead of major hazards. That along with the fact that iceberg-sideswipe damage was not among the foreseen dangers Titanic could withstand was what really turned the Titanic's maiden voyage into a tragedy. Frankly, with the state of maritime safety, some massive disaster was pretty much inevitable, and the Titanic drew the metaphorical short straw.
  • The historical tall ships (sailing merchantmen, clippers and windjammers) fit this trope perfectly. Maritime is and has always been dangerous, and life on sailing ships was constant balancing between life and death - often literally. Square rig is the most efficient running rig there is, and reefing a square sail requires the seamen climbing up in the mast and up to the yards to do it. Likewise, setting the headsails required the seamen to climb on the bowsprit, which carried an apt nickname widowmaker. Eric Newby describes the life on Finnish windjammer Moshulu on his book Last Grain Race. He told the first thing the master did for new apprentice seamen was to tell them to climb on the Moshulu's main mast, which extends 54 m off the sea surface. For most apprentices, this was too much already when the ship was moored on harbour. The master then insisted they had to be ready to do that in the middle of ocean in foul weather... Moshulu herself is still extant and is today a high class restaurant in Philadelphia, US.
  • The infamous Grenfell Tower in London. An old 1960s tower block was given an expensive makeover, with exterior cladding panels that not only improved its visual appearance but protected the original concrete walls from the effects of the weather and hugely improved the building's thermal insulation... but came with the slight drawback of being dangerously flammable. A flame-retardant version was available from the same manufacturer, but cost slightly more money, and since a proposal to make the latter material mandatory was caught up in committee the building's owners went with the cheaper option. This was only the most egregious example of a long history of playing fast and loose with safety regulations on the company's part, and in July of 2017 it all came to a head: What should have been a minor electrical fire turned into a total disaster when it spread to the cladding panels and very quickly spread from a single point of ignition to a raging blaze. 72 people were killed, and it took nearly two days to finally bring the fire under control.
  • While not as extreme as some of the other examples above, the video game industry frequently gets away with very unsafe work practices. As discussed in the Jimquisition episode, Look After Your Workers Or Get Out Of Games, since video game developers don't have their own unions in United States and some other countries, gaming industry can get away with hazardous work practices that no other industry would tolerate. More than in any other industry, video game developers are expected to work extra hours for no compensation at the cost of their own health and personal lives. Job security is also often atrocious and many workplaces don't provide any kind of healthcare plan and companies are known to lay off part of their workforce as soon as a product is finished and shipped and replace them with a rookie workforce. QA testers have it even worse, as they are expected to work with extremely low wages, sickness leaves are forbidden and any kind of sign of tiredness or slowing down is enough justification for terminating a contract.
  • Many US conservatives (to differing degrees) feel that industry is hamstrung by industrial regulations and that the market is better suited to addressing issues of worker safety on-site than the government (such that, if a worker feels their employer does not sufficiently safeguard their health and well being in the work place, they should just get another job- this is the difference between "negative liberty" in a laissez-faire context and "positive rights" gained by workers under a more progressive model of democracy). Not all conservatives agree about the ideal extent of deregulation. But most non-conservatives consider the pre-regulatory history of industry when they articulate why they think this is a bad idea.
  • A tragic example of this trope is what resulted in the massive amount of deaths and injuries in the July 2019 Kyoto Animation arson. What made the fire as deadly as it was were: only the main entrance was open (the ground floor backdoor leading to their basketball court/parking space was apparently locked) and was deliberately blocked off by the culprit, the other exit was on the third floor, and its door was constructed in a way that made it difficult to open especially during an emergency (this is also where most of the bodies were found), there were no emergency ladders, and most importantly, no sprinklers. The building passed the city's fire safety test, however, meaning that it was designed with accidental fires in mind.
  • The Maine-based roofing company Purvis Home Improvement and its owner, Shawn D. Purvis, managed to net the single highest set of fines from OSHA in 2019 after two separate OSHA inspections at jobsites in Portland and Old Orchard Beach resulted in Purvis being hit with over $1.7 million in fines after he was assessed violation-by-violationnote , followed by another $300,000 in fines that November after an inspection at a jobsite in Springvale. Lack of fall protection and insufficient ladders were such a constant issue that each instance of them that Purvis was cited for was a repeat (as he had had run-ins with OSHA dating back to 2006), and the November 2019 inspection also turned up scaffolding erected next to energized power lines. Purvis, despite a 2019 manslaughter charge for a fatal fall from a ladder on one of his worksites in December of 2018 (that also resulted in a $2.5 million wrongful death lawsuit from the worker's widow), has remained utterly unwilling to accept responsibility for the charges, and has maintained that he provides the necessary equipment for his workers, but, as independent contractors, he can't make them wear fall protection and isn't able to stay at a given jobsite all day.
  • As shown in this video, the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky was a disaster waiting to happen. Not only did the building lack basic fire safety equipment such as sprinkler or alarm systems, but the entire structure had been cobbled together in such a way that the interior became a maze of rooms and corridors; the fire exits were practically unreachable, and there weren’t enough of them. The wiring in the club was described as "an electrician's nightmare", and overcrowding was often such an issue that in many cases the wait staff couldn't even reach patrons to serve drinks. Worst of all, while the building itself was made of non-combustible materials, the interior was made of wood, and lushly decorated with thick curtains and carpets. All in all, a major disaster was inevitable. The subsequent fire claimed the lives of 165 people, and ranks as the third worst nightclub fire in U.S. history.
  • Pine Hill Middle School, located in the remote town of Pinehill, New Mexico, has a TON of very egregious safety violations, (as of 2014) including but not limited to:
    • No functional fire alarm or suppression systems to speak of in ANY of the school buildings.
    • Locked exterior doors that could delay emergency evacuation.
    • Hard-to-open fire extinguisher cabinets.
    • Nonfunctional showers.
    • A fire station 700 feet away from the school with a fire truck that refuses to start, yet-to-be-unpacked firefighting gear & equipment just sitting around inside, & NO volunteer firefighters even assigned to the station!
    • Toilet stalls without doors.
  • The massive explosion that rocked Beirut, Lebanon in August 2020 was caused by this trope. The tons of ammonium nitrate that caused the explosion had been placed in a warehouse after the authorities confiscated it six years earlier when the ship carrying had no way to dock when the company it was transporting it for went bankrupt. Authorities begged judges to let them get rid of the nitrate before something bad happened, but all of their letters to the judges responsible for the case went unanswered. Making matters worse was that fireworks were stored in there, thus when a fire broke out, the two materials essentially turned the fire into a massive explosion equal to the Tiajin Explosion and the Texas Explosion of 1947.


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