OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health

OSH Hazards in Godzilla (2014)

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Image 1: Godzilla. Source: http://gph.is/22Z1REz

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Image 2: King of the monsters, Godzilla. Source: http://gph.is/2axllfu

Yikes! Let’s hope he doesn’t have a case of halitosis. I mean, what could be scarier? They say Godzilla is the King of the Monsters who possesses immense physical strength. His signature weapon is its “atomic breath” that he generates from inside of his body. Hmm, that explains the halitosis. This beast of the sea, defender of human society and modern hero that sets out to make things right with the world might seem horrendous and terrifying but who could resist that face!? 👀 Nevermind that, let’s get to the matter at hand!

Joe Brody, a supervisor at the Janjira Nuclear Plant in Japan is discussing an issue with a fellow colleague. The issue? Frequent and consistent patterns of tremors that do not seem to be related to a recent earthquake. On their way to work, Joe advises his wife Sandra to go directly to the site of the reactor at the nuclear plant, a decision he would regret for the rest of his life. Unexpected tremors breach the reactor leaving Sandra and a team of technicians trapped while the plant collapses. Fifteen years later, Ford, Joe’s son, returns home from a tour as a U.S. Navy ordnance disposal officer. After spending some time with his family, he is summoned to Japan after his father had been detained for trespassing in the quarantined zone of the former Janjira plant. Joe is convinced that there is a cover up and persuades his son to accompany him to their old home to retrieve important data. After being detained again, Joe along with his son Ford are carried to the Project Monarch facility where a MUTO escapes in search of nuclear radiation and its mate. The U.S. Navy steps in with hopes of tracking, luring, and destroying the MUTOS but  Dr. Seriwaza is convinced that Godzilla is there to restore a balance in nature and that the creatures should fight among themselves. The admiral, William Stenz, instead uses a large amount of military firepower to kill Godzilla and his rivals. After numerous attempts, countless fatalities, widespread destruction and havoc, Godzilla proved to be a true hero by defeating both MUTOS.

The OSH Titans have been assigned the duty of dissecting Godzilla, highlighting the various OSH hazards, and providing measures to reduce or eliminate these hazards. Some of the hazards identified are chemical, biological, physical, and psychological.

CHEMICAL HAZARDS

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Image 3: Soldiers discovering remains on submarine carrying radioactive material left by MUTO. Source: http://gph.is/MrUmnm

1) Radiation Hazard

How dangerous is radiation? According to Dr. Ananya Mandal, “Exposure to radiation is safe in small amounts and when it is strictly controlled during a medical exam such as an X-ray.” However, long term exposure as well as exposure to a large amount of radiation in a short time can cause damage to biological systems and can lead to electrical and fire hazards. In Godzilla, the two MUTOS feed on nuclear radiation converting it to electromagnetic pulses. Dielectric heating is one effect of exposure to electromagnetic fields that can cause severe burns about the body (Mandal, 2014).

Intense radiation can also cause electric shock in humans and damage to electrical devices. The movie shows the effect that the radiation had on the power grids in Japan and parts of the United States but failed to show the effect it had on humans. In addition, high intensity electromagnetic radiation can also create sparks if an induced voltage is higher than the surrounding medium’s breakdown voltage. Inflammable substances are then at risk of catching fire on contact with a spark, potentially causing an explosion to occur (Mandal, 2014).

Violation: According to the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago 2004 as amended 2006, it is the duty of an employer to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of every employee. In addition, the act states that an employer must provide and maintain safe systems of work which includes all materials used for work, all procedures required to execute their work, and the plant or facility. If we were to apply these principles to Godzilla it is clear that these guidelines were not met. 

Recommendations to reduce the radiation hazards:

  1. Destroy the organisms at an early stage of development.
  2. Alert the public and avoid deception. Areas should have been evacuated quicker which could have saved more lives.
  3. Lure the organisms to a deserted area and not to a highly populated region.
  4. “Fire” only when it is certain that there would be little to no loss of life. Reduce the risk as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).

2) Dust hazard

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Image 4: Ford wakes up covered in dust after the attack and fire explosion.
Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

 After the disastrous attack, Ford wakes up and his nostrils, eyes, and mouth passageways are covered in dust. Did you know that the longer you breathe in dust, there is an increased risk to your health? 

Recommendation: The soldiers should have been equipped with masks to prevent the inhalation of harmful dust particles and to protect their eyes and mouths from dust contamination. 

BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

Biological hazards are organic substances that pose a threat to human health and other living organisms. These threats can come in the form of bacteria, viruses, plants, birds, insects, and humans and can be considered to include biological vectors or transmitters of disease. Worldwide, it is estimated that around 320, 000 workers die each year from communicable diseases caused by work related exposures to biological hazards (Safe Work Australia, 2011). 

The miners were at risk of health complications due to:

1) Lack of protective clothing and equipment:

At the beginning of the movie, the miners that were working for the Universal Western Mining company were not provided with protective clothing and equipment. The workers had no gloves and breathing masks on while they were mining for Uranium Deposits. This is seen as a biological Hazard since the workers could have been infected from micro organisms and bacteria through inhalation, contact with the skin, and any cuts on their body if they received any. 

Lack of protective clothing and equipment is also seen in image 6 as Joe enters the plant.

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Image 5: Workers without protective equipment. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

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Image 6: Joe and his associate without protective gear. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

Violation: According to OSH act of Trinidad and Tobago, all persons entering an area in an industrial establishment where they are likely to be exposed to the risk of head, eye, ear, hand or foot injury, injury from air contaminant or any other bodily injury, shall be provided with suitable protective clothing or devices of an approved standard and adequate instructions in the use of such protective clothing or devices, and no person shall be permitted to be in any such area unless he is wearing such protective clothing or device.

Recommendation: Employers must provide suitable protective clothing and equipment to employees of an approved standard as well as proper training and instructions on the use of it. A few examples of protective equipment that the miners should have worn are safety goggles, steel-toed boots, safety helmets, high visibility vests, and earplugs. In addition, Joe and his associate should have been provided with safety gear before entering the plant.

2) Trespassing quarantine zone

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Image 7: Sign indicating quarantine zone. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

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Image 8: Joe and Lieutenant Ford entering the quarantine zone. Source: http://gph.is/1cMJPNL

Ford and Joe Brody decided to return to their old home to retrieve old disks that comprised of important information about the patterns of seismic activity in 1999. The entire area of which their home was once located is now a quarantine zone because of the accident of the reactors in the Janjira nuclear power plant. A quarantine zone is a state of isolation, used to separate and restrict the movement of persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease.

Recommendation: Joe and Lieutenant Ford should not have risked their lives by trespassing into the  quarantine zone as it could have posed a threat to their health. 

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

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Image 9: Joe’s wife and her team heading to level 5 of the Nuclear Reactor. Source: http://www.kickass.re/movies/godzilla-2014-720p-m40674.html

1) Knowing the dangers that seismic activity can cause to Nuclear Reactors, the chief engineer instructed a worker to assemble a team and proceed to level 5 to inspect if anything was wrong. Seismic activity is defined as the types, frequency, and size of earthquakes that happen over a period of time in a certain area. The Health and Safety of the five workers including Joe’s wife that went to level 5 were put at risk since the chief engineer knew that if a Nuclear Reactor erupted, it would cause the loss of life with or without wearing chemical protective suits.

Violation: The OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago 2004 as amended 2006 states that an Employer must provide information, instructions, training, and supervision to ensure the safety and Health of all employees.

Recommendation: What should the chief engineer have done? The Chief Engineer’s knowledge of the risks involved should not have sent the workers down to level 5 without gaining more information about the seismic activity.

2) Falling Hazards

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Image 10: MUTO causing destruction. Source: http://gph.is/2dPSWRp

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Image 11: Joe and the workers in danger from falling objects. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

Upon realizing that the tremors were due to electromagnetic pulses and was the cause of the last major disaster in Japan, the decision to evacuate the area was taken and using electrical forces, the first M.U.T.O (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) was eradicated, or so they thought. Despite their efforts, the male Muto broke free at the nuclear plant escaping from Project Monarch facilities in Japan resulting in a disarray of heavy machinery, metal, and other objects being violently thrown around leading to many injuries and the death of Joe.

Recommendation: The death of Joe as well as other fallen soldiers could have been prevented if authorities made the right decision on behalf of their team to evacuate the entire plant upon learning of the news. More lives could have been saved if the entire area was quarantined and a strategical approach was taken.

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Image 12: Bus driver on the bridge trying to escape. Source: http://gph.is/2dPVwGY

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Image 13: Children confused and frightened in the bus. Source: http://gph.is/2eRd9Jj

Recommendation– All persons and vehicles should have been evacuated and the bridge should have been blocked off before the attack to prevent persons from becoming injured.  

3) Tsunami

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Image 14: Tsunami approaching at full speed. Source: http://gph.is/2ecErbi

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Image 15: People running for their lives as the tsunami approaches the streets of Honolulu, Hawaii. Source: http://gph.is/2eUgFlu

Godzilla entered Honolulu at full speed and fully submerged. His full mass is displaced in the water and driving it forward at an enormous speed (Lee, 2014). This causes mass hysteria on the beaches as people become aware that a tsunami is coming. Hundreds of people run for their lives, but the tsunami approaches and  the streets are quickly flooded. This caused a great loss of lives, destruction to buildings and objects, as well as a large power outage. We were on the edge of our seats for this scene as I am sure many of you would be as well! 

Recommendation: All persons should have been evacuated away from the beach and alerted to move to higher ground or inland and away from water immediately.   

Disaster preparedness, don’t risk it! Tsunami Awareness & Safety guide

4) Endangerment of civilians. 

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Image 16: Young boy attempting to open the door of the train as he is separated from his parents. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

Recommendation: The parents should have held the child’s hand which would have prevented the child from entering the train by himself and thereby ensuring his safety.

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Image 17: MUTO’s leg smashes on the ground which causes a major power outage. Source: http://gph.is/2eALde2

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Image 18: Muto destroying train and incurring injury to passengers. Source: http://gph.is/2eUdSZW

While boarding a train from Hawaii, Ford as well as other passengers are trapped in an electrical outage caused by the M.U.T.O. This resulted in the train coming to an abrupt stop on the tracks which caused passengers to be stranded since there were no means of escape. Moments later the train was powered again and moving. During this time, the harmful creature that was seen attacking the city, approached and destroyed the train track. Glass from the windows of the train became shattered and gunfire posed danger to the remaining passengers on the train.

Recommendation:  This havoc could have been prevented if passengers were banned from using any means of electrical transport until the situation was under control. The authorities should have never allowed individuals to board the train knowing the danger involved. Instead of keeping the situation quieted, the public should have been alerted of the possible dangers of utilizing the train track which may have resulted in less injuries and death.

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS

Optimism faded, as the realization of what happened to Hawaii begins to settle in and disappointment, resentment, anger and frustration became evident (McMahon 2011). Confronted with the scenes of destruction and the deaths of loved ones, many survivors may have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious psychological disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing life-threatening events as shown in Godzilla (ChildFund, 2013).

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Image 19: Firefighters and police officers seen assisting injured persons on the scene. Source: http://gph.is/2dMpIYD

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Image 20: A family reuniting after the traumatic event. Source: http://gph.is/2dPQ4Eh

Recommendations: Therapy or counselling would have helped those persons that experienced trauma from the disastrous events and make sense of their experiences and feelings, develop plans to stay safe, learn healthy coping mechanisms, and connect with other resources and support. For further information on psychological hazards, refer to our previous post. Raising awareness to psychological hazards

To conclude it can be observed how serious each hazard (chemical, biological, physical, and psychological) has been to the characters mentioned and the public in the movie. These hazards show how important it is to have safe practices in and around the workplace. Each hazard mentioned can be related to our private and public lives and we should therefore take proactive measures in safeguarding our surroundings for ourselves and others. In addition, one should not fail to encourage health and safety wherever they go and with whomever they meet. We as humans have a duty to treat our work environment with caution and respect for others as our work practices can affect the public in hazardous ways. It is important to understand your country’s OSH act, especially as an employee, so you know your rights and the power you have to stand against unsafe health and safety practices.

We would love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Godzilla 2014 Trailer

References

Lee, Franklin. “Why Didn’t Godzilla Create a Huge Tsunami When He Entered San Francisco, Similar to the One That Hit Honolulu?” Quora. July 30, 2014. Accessed October 22, 2016.

https://www.quora.com/Why-didnt-Godzilla-create-a-huge-Tsunami-when-he-entered-San-Francisco-similar-to-the-one-that-hit-Honolulu

Mandal, Ananya, MD. “Radiation Hazards.” News-medical.net. October 30, 2014. Accessed October 19, 2016. http://www.news-medical.net/health/Radiation-Hazards.aspx

McMahon, Kathy. “The Psychology of Disaster.” Peak Oil Blues. March 16, 2011. Accessed October 21, 2016.

http://www.peakoilblues.org/blog/2011/03/16/the-psychology-of-disaster/

“National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance: Exposure to Biological Hazards and the Provision of Controls against Biological Hazards in Australian Workplaces.” Safe Work Australia. March 2011. Accessed October 24, 2016. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/571/NHEWS_BiologicalMaterials.pdf

“Posttraumatic Stress / Trauma.” GoodTherapy. Accessed October 21, 2016.

http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/ptsd

“Seismic Activity Dictionary Definition | Seismic Activity …” Accessed October 20, 2016. http://www.yourdictionary.com/seismic-activity

“Synopsis for Haeundae.” IMDb. Accessed October 21, 2016. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1153040/synopsis

“The Devastating Effects of Natural Disasters.” ChildFund. Accessed October 18, 2016.

https://www.childfund.org/the-devastating-impact-of-natural-disasters/?no_redirect=true

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3 thoughts on “OSH Hazards in Godzilla (2014)

  1. It was interesting to see a movie being used to illustrate occupational health and safety, our initial reaction was negative. Very few things in a movie are factual and much is dramatized, how could this be used to show real life hazards in the workplace?
    On further thought this makes sense, the dramatization of a movie may help to highlight OSH hazards more so than generic signs and videos. Especially to someone with little or no previous knowledge in this field. Almost any movie would have excellent examples of hazards. This particular selection illustrates possibly every potential hazard one may experience in a large industrial setting.

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  2. First of all, I would like to commend you all on a blog well done! Definitely something I (Celine) would construct and be proud of. Secondly, I noticed that you all categorised the hazards and chose pictures which related to these, however, you did not take into account the other hazards which may be present in that particular picture. With that being said, I’d just like to add a few hazards to your existing ones, just for information purposes.

    1. Image 4, was categorised as a dust hazard, however, I would like to point out that after the attack and explosion, there are what seem to be broken branches and debris lying around haphazardly. This immediately stands out as a trip/fall hazard. There is so much broken objects and debris around that what you may be stepping on may not even be the ground and cause you to trip and fall onto more broken debris and causing fractures, injuries and even impalement. It is very likely and may become very severe, 3 x 2 rating respectively which would add up to 6/9 on the scale of risk. One recommendation to mitigate this risk might be to move fallen and broken debris before walking as well as initiating a clean up crew to rid of it as soon as possible.

    2. In image 5, it was illustrated as a biological hazard due to the lack of protective equipment while cleaning. However, from the picture it can also be classified as an ergonomic hazard. The workers’ jobs are to be constantly shovelling, digging and carrying heavy loads across their backs without any proper training or equipment with which to work with, neither do they have back straps to prevent injury or machinery to help lift heavy loads. These activities on a daily basis can seriously damage their body, as well as their posture, their stance and cause long lasting physical pain from the intense labour job they are performing. Recommendations to alleviate this may be to allow workers to work in shifts so that it decreases the risk of developing a problem quickly, as well as provide the workers with protective gear as back straps, hard hats and harnesses which may help then lift heavy loads easily, along with training with regards to proper use of work equipment.

    3. Image 15, is a GIF showing people running from a Tsunami. Clearly this is a crush hazard. This is a critical hazard, being 3 in likelihood and 3 in severity as all the people are running, creaming and scrambling to get away. This can cause many fatalities especially to young kids, disables persons and the elderly who may not be as fast or as strong to push though a crowd or to get up if fallen. One recommendation would be, as it is Hawaii, ensure that Tsunami bulletins are arranged in such a way that it can be easily heard by all if there is an emergency, as well as there should be an emergency evacuation route to an airport or shelter house.

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  3. I think it was pretty cool to use a movie to point out health and safety issues. It is quite detailled and one can see that a lot of effort was put into this, finding appropriate GIFs and images to correspond with the risk identified. It really did catch my attention and it was quite interesting to see how you assessed risks from such a fictional film. I appreciated the recommendations made, particularly in relation to the psychosocial hazards in dealing with trauma and stress. Although this is related to a fictional film, I can see how it can be modified to fit into a real life situation. Many people today suffer from trauma and stress and are unaware of resolutions so as to mitigate these issues and your points about counselling and therapy can genuinely aid these risks. There are also some theories behind motivation and stress management and prevention that could have been explored in order to back up the recommendation however, great effort afterall!

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