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Safety and the movies… Disney’s The Little Mermaid

By Lauren Smith

Photo: Disney Animation Studios

The Little Mermaid has always been my favourite Disney film. I remember getting it on VHS for my fourth birthday. It’s practically worn out now—I just fell in love with all the songs, the sidekicks and the overall magic of the film. And, of course, Ariel. Who wouldn’t love a red-headed mermaid princess who discovers her own destiny through song?

Although Ariel’s incessant charm comes from her take-charge, rebellious attitude, this film is rife with examples of unsafe situations. So, in true Safety and the Movies fashion, let’s discuss a few lessons we can learn from this Disney classic…

1. Venturing into unsafe territory…

Ariel-Shark

Photo: Disney Animation Studios

This movie is full of Ariel swimming off to places she shouldn’t: sunken ship, the surface, Ursula’s cave. And what’s present every time? Danger. Five minutes into the film Ariel explores a sunken ship. Flounder is nervous about the whole situation, and rightly so, because they get attacked by a shark.

There’s a valuable lesson here that we can apply to workplace safety: Flounder was right to trust his gut—if something looks unsafe, it probably is.

2. Ask an expert for expert advice…

Photo: Disney Animation Studios

Photo: Disney Animation Studios

When Ariel adds a newly found human artifact to her collection, she visits Scuttle to learn about its purpose. Although Scuttle spends most of his days on the shore, I wouldn’t classify him as an expert on human culture. Case in point: he tells Ariel a fork is called a dinglehopper and then demonstrates its function by using it to brush his feathers.

When it comes to equipment and machinery at work, if you’re unsure how to properly (and safely) use something, ask someone who knows. The repercussions of not using something properly could be more than some questionable looks.

3. Fall protection is always in fashion…

Photo: Disney Animation Studios

Photo: Disney Animation Studios

I would describe Ariel’s first attempts at walking on her new legs as… unstable. And with all those rocks and other objects around, there are so many potential tripping hazards that fall protection should’ve been utilized.

Although there isn’t any fall protection for falling in love, fall protection (or at least assistance from a coworker) is a must at work whenever doing something where your balance is in question or the risk of a fall is present.

4. Never give up your voice…

ariel voice

Photo: Disney Animation Studios

Ariel sacrifices her voice for a pair of legs. Big mistake.

Your voice is crucial, especially when it comes to workplace safety. Never be afraid to speak up or ask questions if something doesn’t look safe or you’re unsure how to do something safely.

Your voice can be your best protection against potential injury.

What other safety issues did you spot in The Little Mermaid? Comment below to let us know!

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