The five most dangerous (fictional) workplaces

Threats include curses, lasers, ghosts, and incompetent bosses

The five most dangerous (fictional) workplaces
Top fictional workplaces that will make safety officers cringe…

Something a bit more lighthearted for April 1 – and for the upcoming long weekend!

Since beginning my role as editor of COS, I can’t help but view everything through a health and safety lens. I look out for fire extinguishers in my apartment building, peek at construction sites to check if everyone is wearing their hard hat, and when I’m watching some movies or TV shows I now find myself commenting on how dangerous some of these places seem!

And so I figured that it would be fun to make a list of the most dangerous (fictional) workplaces. You may agree or disagree (let me know), this is entirely subjective of course.

Like many people in quarantine, I binge watched The Office (I also binged Tiger King, which is a whole separate health and safety nightmare). It was actually the inspiration for this list because, quite frankly, Dunder Mifflin seems like a horrifying place to work – that’s why it’s the first entry on this list.

1.) Dunder Mifflin (The Office). As a setting, one of the things that makes Dunder Mifflin so frightening is that it’s almost *too* real. Though the next few entries may feature more obvious threats (lasers, ghosts), these aren’t necessarily a common occurrence.

Dunder Mifflin is an obvious HR nightmare, there are whole episodes devoted to Michael Scott engaging in some form of workplace discrimination or harassment, but it also seems pretty unsafe too – both in the office proper and in the warehouse (for those of you who haven’t seen the show, they are a paper supply company).

There is actually an entire episode devoted to health and safety, appropriately titled “Safety Training” (season 3, episode 20) that will make any safety pro seriously cringe.

2.) The Ghostbusters office (Ghostbusters). The New York firehouse the Ghostbusters open their offices in is absolutely iconic (it was my dream to work there as a kid), but also pretty darn dangerous. In the first movie, EAP inspector Walter Peck shuts down the ghosts’ containment unit, leading them to all escape. Sure, this wasn’t Peck’s brightest idea, but surely the Ghostbusters should have had a backup plan to keep the evil spirits at bay?!

Plus, they’re all playing around with a bunch of chemical substances (and other, unknown, spectral matter) and I’m pretty sure they aren’t wearing the right PPE…Though I guess we can cut them some slack as WHMIS was only put into place in 1988 (four years after the first film’s release).

3.) The Death Star (Star Wars). There are a number of science-fiction settings that could have made this list because space is, quite frankly, a dangerous place. Anyone who has ever seen an episode of Doctor Who or Star Trek or movies like Gravity and Interstellar will know this. But the difference with the Death Star specifically, is that there seems to be no real effort to keep employees safe.

Sure, Stormtroopers are wearing some form of PPE (though it doesn’t seem like the most comfortable gear), but they have to work on a weapon of mass destruction that has a massive inbuilt flaw and no proper escape plan apparently. Not to mention that Darth Vader is a pretty abusive boss!

4.) The Springfield Nuclear Power Plant (The Simpsons). Nuclear plants are already not the safest places to work due to the inherent dangerousness of nuclear. But when you factor in that Homer Simpson is the safety inspector at the plant…things start to get a bit iffy! Thank goodness that The Simpsons is a cartoon because if this were real life, Springfield would be a nuclear wasteland by this point.

5.) Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry Potter). Just like with sci-fi movies, it seems as if fantasy also isn’t exactly the most safety conscious genre. Most places in the magical world of Harry Potter seem pretty dangerous to me (though oh so fun), but none more so than Hogwarts itself.

Teachers in fiction (and, sadly, in real life) often get the short end of the stick. Those who teach Defense Against the Dark Arts get the shortest end of the stick. Not only is the subject matter dangerous, but the job also itself is cursed! It’s a mystery to me as to why anyone would want the job – maybe Hogwarts offers applicants a competitive wage and decent health insurance?