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Safety and the movies… The Muppets!

By Matt King

It’s time to play the music
It’s time to light the lights
It’s time to meet the muppets on the Muppet Show tonight

It’s time put on makeup
It’s time to dress up right
It’s time to raise the curtain on the Muppet Show tonight

It’s been said before that there’s no business like show business, and while that is probably partly true, it’s also not true when it comes to workplace safety. Any business needs to be safe, and so, for this edition of Safety and the movies, let’s go through The Muppets and learn a thing or two about safety.

According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, the Muppets were created by Jim Henson between 1954-55. They later went on to have their own show (whose musical intro the lyrics at the top of this post are from), as well as a bunch of movies, the most recent being the Jason Segel/Amy Adams-starring The Muppets. These movies are more than entertainment, they provide valuable safety lessons too. Wocka wocka!

1. Think before you do… or… Don’t do death-defying stunts like Gonzo.

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

In the early part of the film, as Kermit and friends are rounding up the gang, they stop by Gonzo, who now runs a plumbing business. While hesitant to join the gang at first, he later shows them all that he’s been waiting desperately all along, hoping that everyone would get back together and put on a show. To show this, he jumps off his work building. This should be obvious, but this is not a good idea. And if Gonzo were a human being, and if this weren’t a movie, this would not turn out well for him. Of course, what’s worse, in terms of workplace safety, is that he immediately destroys his building. No explanation really for the drastic measures, but nevertheless, that is crazy unsafe. Think about the repercussions of the things you do at work.

2. Be careful when you clean… or… Don’t set fire to mouldy food like the Swedish Chef.

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Spoiler alert: the gang gets back together for a show. Soon, they all go about cleaning the old theatre. As they move about, cleaning their workplace to the tunes of Starship’s “We Built this City”, the Swedish Chef naturally goes into the kitchen. He opens the fridge, only to find mounds of mouldy food. He has a good instinct, in that he wants to clean it up. However, he does so using a flame thrower. This is, again, super unsafe. Fire is dangerous, if you didn’t already know, and should only be used if you are licensed to do so.

3. Wear proper fall protection when climbing… or… Don’t be like Tex Richman.

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

The film’s main villain is a man by the name of Tex Richman, a wealthy oil tycoon who wants to get some oil that is underneath the Muppet Studio. Near the end, as, spoiler alert, the Muppets put on their show,Textries to climb an electrical tower and cut off the signal that is broadcasting the show to the world. But he climbs it, wrench in hand, without any personal protective equipment (PPE) or fall protection! He quickly pays for it and falls. Much like Gonzo, this doesn’t hurt him too bad, only ruffles his hair and gives him some scuff marks, but in real life, this would do a lot more damage and could even be fatal. Make sure you wear proper fall protection when climbing heights.

*******

There are more lessons to be learned in The Muppets, including ones related to musical safety. For now though, try and think of other movies – can you think of safety lessons you can learn from them? If so, let us know, either through Facebook, Twitter, or simply commenting on this blog.

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