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Safety in the Movies (Elysium – Spoiler Warning!)

By Angela Unsworth

I took a break from my Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer binge watching and decided to check out a movie the other night. I’m usually drawn towards themes of fantasy and sci-fi, but I was looking for something a little different. As I clicked on “genres”, then “action” in the Netflix search stream, the first movie that popped up was Elysium, a sci-fi thriller. I thanked my lucky stars (and Netflix’s research skills) that it was a lovely combination of sci-fi and action, and pressed play.

There I was, sitting back, relaxing and watching the movie when within the first 30 minutes or so I saw a few obvious work safety issues.  I took out my pen and paper and started making some notes to share with you.

  1. Working while injured

In this picture we see Matt Damon working with a broken arm. The job he is performing seems to be manageable to do with one arm.

If you have sustained an injury and can’t perform your normal work tasks, chat with your boss to find something else you might be able to do. Even if you can’t do your regular job, there may be other work you can do while you recover.

If you have any questions about what you’re capable of, sit down with your doctor and ask him/her.

2. Know your rights—don’t do what Matt Damon does next…

He sees that the door is stuck and while he knows it’s dangerous to get into the chamber, his boss (unethically and unsafely) tells him it’s either get into the chamber to fix the door, or lose his job.

Matt Damon wanted to keep his job and ended up trapped in a chamber that blasted him with radiation. I’m not sure what kind of work you might be doing, whether it’s working in retail, coffee shops, construction, or with chemicals, but there will be something that poses a danger to you. Ask for help, talk to your boss, know your rights and say no if it’s dangerous!

If you don’t know your rights, check out this site: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/about/publication/workers_rights.shtml

Specifically for this situation, there is a section that discusses your right to refuse unsafe work.

3. Wear the proper safety gear

Image credit: Google images

Image credit: Google images

As you see here, by wearing the proper gear, the character Kruger is taking no chances of sustaining any physical injuries. Make sure you wear the personal protective equipment (PPE) that is needed for the work you do to make sure you stay safe. It’s made to keep you safe.

4. If injured, seek medical help

Image credit: Google images

Image credit: Google images

In the movie, there were these fantastic healing medical pods. If you were a legal citizen living in Elysium and were sick or injured, you’d just pop yourself in one of these (found in every home…you’d have one of your very own) and bam! You’d be healed!

Unfortunately, we don’t have anything like this. Since we don’t have these miraculous healing tools, it’s important that the moment you get injured, you seek medical help. If you get hurt at work, talk to your boss, your doctor and WCB.

Elysium is set in a world where workers’ rights have been taken away. That’s not the case in Alberta. Know your rights. Work smart and work safe.

Have you watched any movies lately with glaringly obvious worker safety issues? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @HeadsUpAB.

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