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Safety in the movies TV show – the one with Friends

By Melissa Babcock

If you love movies, this is the most wonderful time of the year. Awards season is in full swing, with the Oscars coming up on Feb. 22. Which means now is the time to head to the theatre, get caught up on all of the year’s biggest films, plan your Oscar-viewing party and get your bets in for the office Oscar pool.

This used to be me. While I still love films and the occasional trip to the movie theatre (and will most certainly be following along on Twitter during Oscar night), I admit I rarely watch movies anymore unless they’re on Netflix. And to be honest, my first love has always been television. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because when I was a kid, I could tape my favourite TV shows when they aired and then watch them over and over. My shelves at home are filled not so much with DVDs of movies, but of my favourite TV shows.

So for this installment of Safety in the Movies, I’m switching it up a bit and focusing instead on one of the most popular TV shows of all times (and one of my personal favourites) – Friends! If you’re a child of the 90’s like me, you may have planned your Thursday nights around keeping up with the lives of Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross, dreaming of someday living in a huge New York City apartment (with seemingly no money), with your best friends living across the hall and lamenting over how your hair was too thick and curly to be cut into “The Rachel”. Or maybe that was just me.



Anyway! Now that the entire series of Friends has been released on Netflix I have of course been binge-watching and along with strong feelings of nostalgia, I couldn’t help but notice several safety lessons to be learned from my favourite group of friends.


Instructions are given for a reason

Interesting sidebar – Matt LeBlanc dislocated his shoulder during filming of the third season and his injury was written into the show. As seen during episode three, The One with the Jam, Joey is off-camera when Chandler hears him take a hard fall, only to admonish him for jumping up and down on his bed.

Workers are encouraged to ask questions and speak up at the workplace if they are told to do something that seems ill-advised or unsafe and this still holds true. But sometimes, some instructions should always be followed. If a worker doesn’t listen when their supervisor says to always wear a hard hat on the job site, the results could be disastrous. In Joey’s case, his injury healed and he was eventually fine, but he could have avoided being hurt altogether had he heeded his parents’ words.

Follow directions

Ross may have had a PhD but his startling lack of common sense provided some of the show’s funniest moments. Never was this more evident than in the third episode of season 10, The One with Ross’s Tan. Ross decides to give spray-tanning a try but doesn’t follow the salon employee’s very specific directions. The results, while not life-threatening, were certainly embarrassing (but hilarious).

Fortunately, a badly-applied spray tan will fade with time with no actual harm done. But a workplace injury that comes about because instructions are disregarded can have implications that are much longer-lasting, not to mention life-changing.

Fall protection is important, even for small jobs

During episode 17 of the very first season, it was well into the new year and Monica had been nagging Rachel about taking the Christmas lights down from their balcony. Rachel finally does so, but in bad weather and without any type of safety gear. The result? She gets distracted by Monica and takes what could have been a catastrophic fall.

Since Friends was a sitcom and not a medical drama (though George Clooney and Noah Wyle from ER did end up playing Rachel’s doctors in the following episode), Rachel suffered only an injured ankle and was fine within a few days. But I hope she never again ventured onto the ledge of a balcony without some kind of PPE to prevent another, far more serious fall.


Like most television comedies, the six Friends rarely endured a problem that couldn’t be solved and wrapped up within 30 minutes. The same cannot be said for a lot of workplace injuries, which can seriously impact the rest of your life. So keep your heads up, work smart and work safe. Because much like our friends, workplace safety will always be there for you.


What is your all-time favourite TV show? What can it teach us about safety? Let us know by leaving a comment of tweeting @HeadsUpAB and maybe we’ll feature it in an upcoming blog!


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