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Safety and the movies: Shaun of the Dead

By Melissa Babcock

I love British humour (so dry, so sarcastic) and Simon Pegg, known primarily to North American audiences as Montgomery Scott of Star Trek fame, is one of my favourite actors. So it’s no surprise Shaun of the Dead is one of my favourite movies. You wouldn’t expect a film about a zombie apocalypse to be hysterically funny and also romantic and sweet, but Simon Pegg and writer/director Edgar Wright pull it off. You also wouldn’t expect this kind of film to offer any lessons about safety that can be applied to the workplace, but it manages to do that too. Basically, this movie has it all. (Note: this is not a paid endorsement, just gushing from a big fan. Also, this blog post contains spoilers.)


Be aware of your surroundings

A worker should always be alert and on the lookout for potential hazards. This is advice Shaun would have benefitted from early in the film. After a night spent drowning his sorrows and mourning his recent breakup, Shaun wakes up and stumbles his way to the local shop for a drink and a snack. He’s distracted, still half asleep, completely oblivious to what’s happening around him and is very lucky to make it home with all his limbs intact. Had Shaun noticed the smashed vehicles, the obvious signs of carnage and of course, the many zombies stumbling around, he and flatmate Ed might have been better prepared and less surprised when they were attacked later in their backyard by two undead.


Have a plan (and the proper equipment)

When starting a new job or a new project, it’s important to plan the work ahead as a way to stay on track and ensure everything gets done when it’s supposed to. This is especially true when working in groups. In order for a team to work together effectively, they need to be on the same page. Shaun seems to understand this and after doing away with their backyard intruders, he and Ed work together to figure out a plan of action so they can safely wait out the zombie crisis. Sure, they have different priorities (Shaun wants to ensure his mother and his ex-girlfriend are safe, Ed wants to be able to smoke), but they work together to find a solution agreeable to them both. They also ensure they’re properly equipped to get the job done: when it comes to fighting zombies, a shovel and a cricket bat are as good PPE as any!


Don’t be afraid to speak up

Towards the end of the film, things get serious and sad when Shaun’s mum reveals she was bitten during an earlier encounter with a zombie, but didn’t tell anyone as she didn’t want to “be a bother”. This is exactly why a lot of young workers don’t say anything if they have questions about safety, or why they might try to hide or downplay an injury instead of reporting it. But keeping quiet is never the answer. In the case of Shaun’s mother, speaking up wouldn’t have helped her much as there is no undoing a zombie bite, though she and Shaun might have had time for a proper goodbye. But when it comes to maintaining a safe workplace, asking questions and reporting injuries is a must.


So in conclusion…

It turns out surviving a zombie apocalypse isn’t all that different from staying safe on the job. Just keep your head up, be prepared, equip yourself appropriately and above all, work safe and work smart.


What’s your favourite zombie flick? Have any suggestions for a future installment of Safety and the movies? Leave a comment or tweet @HeadsUpAB.


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