Compliance and Safety

OSHA vs. Hollywood: Round 1 December 26, 2012

Workplace safety does not receive much mainstream exposure. The vast majority of the U.S population does not know what OSHA is or what it regulates. We’re intent on changing that.  In this post, we’ll analyze the $250 million dollar 90′s blockbuster Enemy of the State and NBC’s The Office for OSHA violations.

A special thanks goes out to contributing safety expert Anne Evans for her assistance in creating this post.

(1998) Enemy Of The State, Supply Room Scene. CLIP ENDS AT 03:20

This clip is from the late 90′s blockbuster ‘Enemy of the State’. What’s especially interesting about this clip is that the management had the audacity to place a ‘Safety First’ poster in the same room as a handful of critical OSHA violations. Sadly this type of gross negligence coupled with minimal effort to create the appearance of compliance (such as a ‘Safety First’ sign) is far too common in actual workplaces. In this case, Hollywood’s depiction of workplace safety is not so different than reality.

 

We can see that the hotel stocked their supply closet  with a tray of lighters a few feet away from several gallons of cleaning solution marked as ‘FLAMMABLE’ in large red letters.

This is a clear violation of 1910.106(d)(5)(iii) which states:

Storage shall be prohibited except that which is required for maintenance and operation of building and operation of equipment. Such storage shall be kept in closed metal containers stored in a storage cabinet or in safety cans or in an inside storage room not having a door that opens into that portion of the building used by the public.

While this discussion centers on OSHA regulation, NFPA 30 also has a lot to say about the use of storage rooms/cabinets, ignition source control (50 feet) and management of other hazards for flammable storage.  A fire could result in both OSHA and Fire Marshal inspections.

Interestingly enough, the hotel did seem to comply to regulation 1910.106(d)(7)(i)(a) that requires a fire extinguisher near the entrance of the room:

At least one portable fire extinguisher having a rating of not less than 12-B units shall be located outside of, but not more than 10 feet from, the door opening into any room used for storage.

They also complied with 1910.106(d)(7)(iii) which requires control of open flame and smoking.  They posted signs to comply:

Open flames and smoking shall not be permitted in flammable liquid storage areas.

At 3:17 there is a moment when storage is very briefly visible within 18” of the ceiling in the storage room.  In this instance, the storage of materials so closely crowding the sprinkler device could not arguably be far enough away from a sprinkler head in such a small room as to allow adequate vertical clearance in line with the Standard Interpretation of 1910.159(c)(10) and NFPA 30  3-2.3.2:

 Aisles shall be maintained to retard the transfer of fire from one pile to another and to permit convenient access for fire fighting, salvage, and removal of storage.

(2005-) The Office, Episode: “Boys and Girls”, warehouse scene. CLIP ENDS AT 00:24

In this clip, Michael seizes Daryl’s Forklift and makes a huge mess in the warehouse.

Michael was engaging in ‘horseplay’ which is specifically forbidden by 1910.178(n)(9):

Stunt driving and horseplay shall not be permitted.

As Michael had clearly not been trained to use the Forklift, his usage of the equipment violated 1960.10(a) which states:

Each employee shall comply with the standards, rules, regulations and orders issued by his/her agency in accordance with section 19 of the Act, Executive Order 12196, and this part which are applicable to his/her own actions and conduct.

Michael was clearly not competent to operate the forklift safely. Seeing as he is a branch manager and exhibits similar reckless and unsafe behavior on a regular basis, we can assume that management is not making a reasonable attempt to ensure that forklift operators are competent and trained which violates 1910.178(l)(1)(i):

The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in this paragraph (l).

Michael was able to seize the Forklift while it was running with the forks elevated. This indicates that the forklift was left unattended which violates 1910.178(m)(5)(i) through (m)(5)(iii) (paraphrased):

When a forklift is left unattended, load engaging means shall be fully lowered, controls shall be neutralized, power shall be shut off, and brakes set.  If the forklift is only dismounted (operator within 25’ and within line-of-sight) the truck need-not be shut-off.

Do you know of a movie or T.V show that has OSHA violations? Let me know in the comments below and it might be featured in an upcoming post!

A Detailed Look Into OSHA under U.S Presidents
OSHA's "Recession Tax"
Share on Tumblr

  • Stephen

    In response to the very last regulation stated:

    “Michael was able to seize the Forklift while it was running with the forks elevated. This indicates that the forklift was left unattended which violates 1910.178(m)(5)(i) through (m)(5)(iii) (paraphrased):”

    I don’t think its safe to assume that the forklift was unattended just because Michael was able to hop on. OSHA’s definition of an unattended forklift is when the operator is more than 25 ft away OR does not have line of sight with the forklift. It’s very possible that Michael jumped on the lift while Daryl was close by, but given that Michael has seniority over Daryl, Daryl really can’t compel Michael to get off the machine.

    This begs an interesting question though. What responsibility, if any, does Daryl have to remove Michael from the forklift? After all, Michael is putting lives at risk with this dangerous behavior.

  • Stephen

    In response to the very last regulation stated:

    “Michael was able to seize the Forklift while it was running with the forks elevated. This indicates that the forklift was left unattended which violates 1910.178(m)(5)(i) through (m)(5)(iii) (paraphrased):”

    I don’t think its safe to assume that the forklift was unattended just because Michael was able to hop on. OSHA’s definition of an unattended forklift is when the operator is more than 25 ft away OR does not have line of sight with the forklift. It’s very possible that Michael jumped on the lift while Daryl was close by, but given that Michael has seniority over Daryl, Daryl really can’t compel Michael to get off the machine.

    This begs an interesting question though. What responsibility, if any, does Daryl have to remove Michael from the forklift? After all, Michael is putting lives at risk with this dangerous behavior.

  • Matthew Pelletier

    That’s an interesting question. Maybe one of the safety experts out there can chime in?

  • Bruce

    The TV show Dirtiest Jobs always had me scratching my head. I saw so many OSHA violations I always wondered if OSHA did not “visit” a lot of the facilites Mr. Rowe worked at after the shows aired. Pobably one of my scariest was when he worked at a shingle making mill. Having worked in the lumber industry as a safety specialist, I know there were more OSHA issues in that one plant than I have seen in a very long time.

  • Matthew Pelletier

    Thanks for the tip Bruce! I’ve added this to my list, we might feature it in an upcoming post.

  • MunrosSafetyApparel

    It would be interesting to see if these clips, though for entertainment purposes, could be used in safety training videos. Unlike the other industrial instructional videos, these have mass market appeal and could be used to better engage employees during training.