Risk assessment of the movie Skyscraper staring Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson


Chemical Hazards 

A Chemical Hazard is one of the major types of occupational hazard and is caused by exposure to chemicals in your working environment. Exposure to chemicals in the workplace can cause acute or long-term detrimental health effects (United States Department of Labour). In recent time we have seen an increase in the use of chemicals due to economic developments in a multitude of sectors such as industries, agriculture, and transport. As a result, individuals are more inclined to encounter chemical elements. Chemicals are known to have immediate, acute effects, accompanied by chronic effects, which can result through long-term exposure.

Hazardous chemicals are substances, mixtures, and materials that can be classified according to their health and physicochemical risks and dangers (World Health Organization). Health hazards can include but are not limited to skin irritants, carcinogens or respiratory sensitizers that have an adverse effect on a worker’s health because of direct contact with or exposure to the chemical, usually through inhalation, skin contact or ingestion. Low-level exposure to various chemicals can also result in several adverse health outcomes, such as damage to the nervous and immune systems, impairment of reproductive function and development, cancer and organ-specific damage. Physicochemical hazards generally result from a substance’s physical and chemical properties, as is the case with flammable, corrosive, oxidizing or explosive substances.

The chemical element of this scenes identifies a group of men emptying a white powder form substance on the floor from barrels which was later identified as sodium cyanide a white crystalline or granular powder according to Centre’s for Disease Control and Prevention “Sodium cyanide releases hydrogen cyanide gas, a highly toxic chemical asphyxiant that interferes with the body’s ability to use oxygen. Exposure to sodium cyanide can be rapidly fatal. It has whole-body (systemic) effects, particularly affecting those organ systems most sensitive to low oxygen levels: the central nervous system (brain), the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), and the pulmonary system (lungs)” (Centre’s for Disease Control and Prevention). The group of individuals seemed to have the proper PPE equipment for handling the controlled item, but later in the video clip, we identify on completion of pouring the chemical onto the floor these unconscious individuals removing their protective gear before disembarking the room. By removing their protective gear, they were exposed to this chemical elevating the risk of them being severely affected (only in the movies right).

in this video clip, we see an individual most likely the leader of these “very wise scientists” who seemed to be Russian due to the jargon in his speech. At this point in the movie, this Russian evolutionist proceeds to give an award-winning speech before igniting an emergency flare and placing it near a fire alarm triggering the apparent fail-safe fire prevention measures causing the water sprinklers to emerge and go into effect. The water released from the sprinklers then makes contact with the sodium cyanide and a chemical explosion is enacted. We also identified that when the explosion took place the fire was burning in a greenish blue color, the most common cause of a green flame is the presence of chemicals inside the fire.

Physical Hazards

Present in this movie, Skyscraper, is an immense number of hazards that can cause physical harm to the human body. We describe these hazards as Physical Hazards. From very early on in the movie and continuing throughout, we see the inhalation of smoke fumes being a major respiratory hazard to those involved in the respective scenes where this was present. Smoke inhalation occurs when you breathe in harmful smoke particles and gases. Inhaling harmful smoke can inflame your lungs and airway, causing them to swell and block oxygen. This can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome and respiratory failure. Smoke inhalation commonly happens when you get trapped in a contained area, such as a kitchen or home, near a fire. (www.healthline.com)


In the above picture, we can see that this man is in a room that appears to be an electrical room and there’s smoke behind him. He is not well protected with a face mask or gloves and this can therefore be very detrimental to his health, should anything explode by any chance.


The above picture shows a mother and her two children in an enclosed building that’s on fire, where they seem to be trapped. The mother seemed to have tried to protect her kids from inhaling too much of the smoke fumes and dust by wrapping their nose and mouth with cloth but didn’t seem to protect herself as well in that regard. She, therefore, is at a higher risk of respiratory illnesses that can come about from inhaling the dust and smoke.



In the above pictures, we can see respiratory hazards present yet again. The persons in the scene are heavily surrounded by fire and smoke fumes. They are therefore at risk from contracting respiratory illnesses as well as getting physically burned from being so near to the fire. Having watched the movie, it is also known that the little boy already has asthma and as such, this type of environment is horrible for his and very detrimental to his health.


We also see Slip and Fall Hazards present in the movie as in the picture above. Here we see the star, Dwayne Johnson, climbing down a wall from a high storey with no harness or anything to protect him in case he should fall and he actually did fall. Also, important to note, is that this character had a prosthetic leg which automatically had put him at a higher risk of danger especially since he was not protected by a harness or anything of the sort.

In the above photos, we see more slip and fall hazards present where the main character is seen climbing and hanging with his prosthetic leg and without a harness. He is also extremely high up which poses major threat to life should he slip and fall. He is also exposed to smoke fumes from the nearby fire which can also cause respiratory illnesses.


We see another Fall Hazard present here where this mother is holding her son on her back and walking across a very thin, unstable length of board which her husband is trying to hold steady on the other end with all his might. She has no support whatsoever whilst she’s doing this and therefore, her life as well as her son’s life is hugely at risk for falling and causing death. Under them is fire and a very long distance to the ground.


In the above photo, we see that the main character is walking through a dark room with not enough light. Present here is a light hazard. There can be the possibility of bouncing into things or coming into contact with sharp objects which can be very detrimental to life. A torchlight may have helped mitigate risks in this situation.


Present in this photo above seems to be an Electrical Hazard. The character is cutting an electrical wire with his bare hands exposed and is not protected whatsoever by gloves or anything of the sort. He is therefore at risk for electrical shock.

All of the aforementioned physical hazards should be taken into consideration when undergoing any activity with those risks involved. Where respiratory hazards such as smoke fumes are present, oxygen masks should always be worn in order to protect your internal, respiratory organs and safeguard yourself from respiratory illnesses which may be detrimental to life. If ever a situation is presented where there can be the occurrence of falling from heights, one should always venture into it with a harness which will prevent possible damage from the fall. When going into a room or area with insufficient lighting, one should always have a torchlight present or a bright light so that they can see there way through without bouncing into or coming into contact with any harmful or sharp objects. Finally, if ever exposed to electrical wires, where there’s the possibility of getting shocked, one should always protect themselves with gloves.

Psychological Hazards

A psychological hazard is any threat that affects the mental well-being or mental health of a worker by overwhelming individual coping mechanisms and impacting the worker’s ability to work in a healthy and safe manner. Some examples of the effects of this hazard are; stress from conflict or job overload, boredom, uncertainty, lack of control, fear of bullying, customer aggression, intimidation, workplace violence.

For the purpose of the course, we looked at OSH (Operational Safety and Health) issues in a movie. Some of the psychological hazards were as follows:

Psycho Hazard 1

In this scene, the family is crouched and huddled on the floor because they are fearful for their lives. The husband and father have them in a hostage situation which has brought on high levels of stress, fear, and anxiety. This can be considered a violence hazard and results in lingering effects which would eventually require counseling or some form of rehabilitation.

Psycho Hazard 2

In this scene, Johnson was a victim of an explosion and was badly injured, amidst all the physical lacerations we can assume he was thinking he would die. We would imagine that this feeling is the pinnacle of worry for any human being, therefore, causing immense stress.

Psycho Hazard 3

The above scene shows Johnson standing in the skyscraper 220 floors high when Zhao Long activates a simulation to show the outside of the building from that high up. Johnson immediately holds his chest which symbolizes a fear of heights. Often enough people may display acrophobia or paranoia with being high up in buildings which can sometimes only be controlled by meditation, deep breathing or yoga.

Psycho Hazard 4

The above scene depicts another aspect of psychological hazards, Johnson is being attacked by his longtime friend and co-worker for personal gain. This constitutes as bullying, intimidation, threatening behavior and eventual physical violence.

While this scene did not take place in the workplace, workplace violence can be defined as an act or threat of physical harm against another person at the work site. Abusers might physically assault their victims or use verbal abuse to intimidate them.

Some factors that put workers at risk include:

  • Working alone at night or in isolated areas
  • Persons that attend to cash or carry large sums of money are usually targets
  • Delivery drivers and customer service personnel are routinely victims

Other examples of workplace violence are discrimination, sexual and other forms of harassment, verbal abuse, written abuse, malicious damage to property.

The impact of violence is dependent on how much harm came to the victim coupled with their experiences and personality.

Ergonomic Hazards

The energy and breath-taking near misses by Johnson in many of the scenes as he highhandedly saves his family from the burning 96th floor of the Pearl building was epic.  All this, amidst the attacks of cold-blooded killers trying to get at Zahoo for an essential piece of software, could easily catch one’s attention. This auctioned packed movie had a substantial amount of ergonomics issues and best practices entrenched in its design and implement systems, though considered sophisticated technologically, the issues must be highlighted as can be considered high risk and hazardous.

 Ergonomics is here-under defined to have a clear understanding of the phenomena, it is defined by the US Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration: “Ergonomics can be defined simply as the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.” (OSHA, 2000)

The movie, though not realistic achieves keeping the audience on the edge of their seats with near-death drama. In doing so however many ergonomics issues can be realized throughout the movie. One of which was Johnson’s superhuman mission to climb an adjacent construction crane which he swung on and jumped over into the Pearl suspending over 96 floors to get to his family. Though heroic, with focus on the ergonomics of this action, posed a potential high-risk safety hazard that potentially could have ended in the death of the character Johnson. In a real-life setting proper fall prevention equipment example climbing harnesses or use of a crane bucket should be utilized for as safer options to mitigate risk. According to the US Department of Labor OSHA 2000, “ OSHA requires that fall protection is provided at elevations four feet in the general industry workplaces……..six feet in the construction industry” (OSHA, 2000).

Image result for pics from movie skyscraper

 Johnson additionally carried a falling severed bridge suspended hundreds of feet above ground to allow the safe crossing of his family by his barehanded move by pulling on cables for his wife and son to cross on a narrow plank, almost a “shut eye” moment. Again, design can be failed by ergonomics issues that appear to be at work when an open bridge is suspended hundreds of meters, though revolutionary, raises safety concerns of risk involved in its usage worst case being death.

Additionally, pulling on the cables with such bodily force and not enforcing the proper pulling techniques as stated by the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, 2017 which states that improper pulling and pushing is the cause of many injuries as they are the most common action at workplaces causing overexertion injuries, injured fingers, hands and lower legs (Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, 2017).

Image result for pics from movie skyscraper

Another ergonomically based concern was the use of duct tape around the hands and feet of Johnson to aid in suspending approximately a hundred floors by sticking to the external glass of the building to get to the turbines like in the Spider-man movies. He defies the rule of gravity as duct tape is impossible to hold the weight of a man in such conditions. Playing along with its ability to happen in the real world, a better solution will be the use of fall prevention equipment to reduce the risk in this extreme situation.

As the movie progressed, Johnson on reaching the turbines, having suspended like spider-man with a thin rope attached to his waist, has to time a huge revolving turbine to jump in and get to the control box of the Penthouse. This in itself was unbelievable based on the fast speed at which it revolved, but again with his brave and diehard character, he succeeded by evading the high risk of death.

Not without posing the question of the high risk involved in one (1) designing a system by placing a control box in the middle of spinning turbines and two (2) Actually jumping through these possible bodies crushing turbines. Alternatively, the building design should have had the control box placed in a secure area with no risk of death to access it.

Image result for pics from movie skyscraper turbines

Not all the ergonomics put forward in the movie had negative connotations, however.  The positives must be highlighted and best practices observed in these action-packed scenes. The building has state of the art modern amenities with serene Eco waterfall system for a relaxing effect, additionally, the original building design with anti-fire measures to limit spread and minimize the effects of possible fires was exemplary in reducing the effects of a fire hazard proactively. I was also impressed with the well-designed work space of the engineers working in the building before they were all killed, proper seating and work-space design was observed.  Finally, the elevators, although highly technologically advanced, was designed with a manual override system which allowed for the safe exit of Johnson’s wife and son from the burning building which ultimately saved tow lives.

Biological Hazards

Within the movie Skyscraper, a few biological hazards presented were acknowledged. A biological hazard is one that is known to cause health conditions or that are harmful to human health. In general there are three entry points for microorganisms to  gain access to our body, they are: respiratory system, transmissions through contact with bodily fluids or contact with contaminated objects. They also can produce harmful effects to human health such as infections and allergies. It is important that these harmful effects are not restricted to the three listed.

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In this scene the villains are seen coming through the hole that they created to begin their attack.This is the first example of a biological hazard. This type of hazard would be exposure to mold and fungi within that particular space. These microorganisms can enter a building directly or by their spores being carried in the air. The presence of mold does not always mean health problems will occur but mold creates “mycotoxins” which if inhaled can lead to allergic and respiratory problems. The risk rating here would be identified as a low. The controls put in place would be to equip these villains with appropriate breathing mask as to prevent minimal inhalation of such bacteria.



At this point in time the main character has suffered a stab wound to the chest and has to take a rest. He then proceeds to clean and dress this wound with things available to him at this time which were: alcohol, tape and some cloth ripped from his shirt. This puncture can more than likely develop into an infection if not treated properly The risk rating applied to this hazard would be a high because he would not be capable of treating such an injury as soon as possible.



Where do we seek protection

THE UWI Guild of Students has called an emergency meeting in response to an alarming report by a student that a man attempted to rape, rob and assault a female year two student in the university’s female locker room bathroom on Tuesday afternoon.
“This unfortunate act preceded by at least six reported robberies where students were held at gunpoint at various locations around the campus over the last four years” said the Guild

“There is the need for more functional security cameras, well lit areas, greater consistency in the protocols and operations of security officers and more frequent patrols” the Guild said.

An invitation has been issued for students to attend a town hall meeting from 1p.m. Thursday.

As a result of students frustration they formed a human barricade and blocked the University southern entrance making it impassable, the police were called in to quell the peaceful protest as the students voiced their frustration. Videos below illustrate the gathering

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