Thought Leadership

Films with an occupational safety and health theme

May 10, 2010
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Modern Times (1936)

Modern Times is Chaplin’s last 'silent' film: Charlie turns against modern society, the machine age and progress.

Chaplin is frantically trying to keep up with a production line, tightening bolts. Then he is selected for an experiment with an automatic feeding machine but various mishaps lead his boss to believe that he has gone mad, and Charlie is locked away. When he gets out, he is mistaken for a communist while waving a red flag, sent to jail, foils a jailbreak, and is let out again to face many more escapades.

The Perfect Storm (2000)

In October 1991, the Andrea Gail left Gloucester, Massachusetts and headed for the fishing grounds of the North Atlantic. Two weeks later, an event took place that had never occurred in recorded history.

Billy Tyne is the highly competitive captain of the sword-fishing-boat Andrea Gail. His crew is hardly back in port when he tells them he's going out again, even though it's October and the weather can turn ugly. Five join him but they catch little. They sail east with Tyne ignoring storm warnings behind him. Finally, the fish bite but the ice machine fails. Should they head home through the storm of the century, or wait it out and lose their catch?

The Navigators (2001)

The Navigators, directed by Ken Loach, is the powerful story of the effects of privatisation and the repercussions for the safety of the rail system.

As they to listen to their boss explain the new company’s mission statement and watch a slick corporate video, privatisation seems no more than a diversion from their daily routine. However, the new reality soon becomes clear. The solidarity of the men begins to crumble; men used to working together find themselves belonging to different, competing companies. Corners are cut in the interest of lowering costs, leading to a series of misadventures. Rob Dawber, the writer of The Navigators died on 20th February 2001. The cause of his death was mesothelioma, a cancer contracted while working with asbestos on the railways.

Smoking Room (2002)

The Spanish branch of an American company introduces a smoking ban in its offices.

Whoever wants to smoke during working time must go up to the roof or out into the street, even when the weather is windy and cold. Ramirez, one of the office employees, decides to campaign against what he sees as an injustice. He tries to create a Smoking Room from an empty office. Everyone agrees to support him until the time to take action when his colleagues come up with a series of excuses. At the end, all his workmates are against Ramirez, and he finds himself the victim of their hatred.

Real Women Have Curves (2002)

This is the story of Ana, a first generation Mexican-American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman.

Ana lives in the Latino community of East Los Angeles. Freshly graduated from high school, her traditional, old-world parents feel that now is the time for her to help provide for the family, not the time for a scholarship to Columbia University. Torn between her ambitions and her cultural heritage she agrees to work with her mother at her sister's downtown LA sewing factory. Over the summer she learns to admire the hardworking team of women who teach her solidarity and teamwork.

La Suerte Dormida (2003)

The Spanish scriptwriter González-Sinde Angels changes direction with La Suerte Dormida. This is the story of a woman who escapes the pain caused by the traumatic death of a member of her family in a traffic accident by taking refuge in a ‘perfect bubble’ of routine work and a simple life. That is, until she is pressed to obtain justice in the case of a boy who has died in a mine through lack of safety measures. The Machinist (2003)

An industrial worker who hasn't slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity.

The Machinist is the story of Trevor Reznik, a lathe-operator who is dying of insomnia. In a machine shop, occupational hazards are bad enough under normal circumstances; yet for Trevor the risks are compounded by fatigue. Trevor has lost the ability to sleep. This is no ordinary insomnia...
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