WARNING: minor spoilers for Season 1 of Fallout below!

War never changes, and neither does the need for these health and safety hit pieces. Five minutes in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout should make it clear that health and safety is, at best, a loose consideration. Yet amidst all the bullet wounds and tetanus, there are a few incidents that stand out more than most.

Here at SAMS, we’re here to set the jazzy pre-War record straight, and give those wastelanders a darn good talking to. If they really want to build a better tomorrow, they need to start with health and safety – and address the flagrant hazards in Fallout’s first season.

Suited and booted

One of the earliest and grisliest scenes in the show is the moment when a Brotherhood Initiate is promoted to Squire, and set to venture out into the wasteland. This triumphant moment is cut short when they take their boot off, and several toes come off with it. The boot appears to have been booby-trapped, scuppering their shot at glory.

The failure to check and maintain proper PPE is a bad enough oversight, but the safety culture in the Brotherhood may be even more concerning. The fact that employees are creating hazards rather than reporting them speaks to a lack of safety awareness training, and the clear absence of a Safety Management System. If people don’t feel safe at work, morale suffers – something flying armour can only mask for so long.

Hazard rating: 6/10

A floored plan

A memorable moment of suspense comes when our heroes enter an old research facility in search of medical supplies. At the end of a suspiciously lit corridor, they find themselves locked in a small room, where the floor suddenly gives way. The fall apparently knocks them both out cold, and they wake up in an isolated treatment area.

This is a classic case of oversights in a health and safety risk assessment. While lights and a warning noise were implemented to highlight the possibility of falls – as well as signage for workers below – the locking of access doors prevented any escape from the fragile work surface. The falls that result are entirely predictable, and caused injury despite the quick intervention of medical personnel. We’d advise slimming down the lessons on Shady Sands, and brushing up on working at height.

Hazard rating: 7/10

Double digits

What can seem like a simple breach of safety can often lead to life-changing consequences. Such was the case in a tit-for-tat workplace conflict between Fallout’s hero (Lucy) and its enigmatic antihero (The Ghoul). Poor hand tool safety and conflict resolution leads to the removal of one of The Ghoul’s fingers, who then repeats the same act on our protagonist.

While both fingers were successfully reattached, this kind of retribution for a safety incident is never acceptable. Aside from the high risk of infection, employees should never be penalised for an injury that could have been prevented by better information. This kind of safety culture prevents people from speaking out about hazards in case they are penalised for doing so – leading to the kind of fear and mistrust that caused this incident.

Hazard rating: 5/10

Lucky escapes

For a large and sparsely populated world, Fallout dices with confined spaces on a surprisingly frequent basis. As well as crawling and creeping through tight gaps, there are two incidents of confined spaces which could have been disastrous if not for lucky interventions: a man trapped in his power armour after a power supply failure, and a dog getting stuck in a small container.

The lack of a manual release for the armour in case of a power failure is an unforgivable oversight, and should have necessitated strict monitoring. The dog meanwhile fell victim to another common misconception, namely that it’s ok to come back and ‘check on’ the person (or animal) in the confined space later. Doing so does not constitute appropriate risk management – even if you make sure there’s a hole for air.

Hazard rating: 7/10

Heading for disaster

The many factions in the Fallout universe all end up competing for one unlikely item: a decapitated head. The sought-after skull apparently contains an unknown artefact, embedded just below the skin. The head’s travels take it through several pairs of slightly mutilated hands and the stomach of a gulper before it reaches its ultimate destination.

The increasing putrefaction of the head poses an obvious risk of infection and illness, as well as attracting dangerous wildlife. Yet in the entire series, the characters never wash their hands, and appear to take one shower between them. By rights, any Vault Dwellers who makes it to the surface should end up like the aliens in War of the Worlds, and keel over from a hundred new diseases.

Hazard rating: 6/10

One foot in the grave

The Brotherhood’s T-60 power armour has obvious potential for serious injury, both to its occupant and anyone who happens to be near it. The nuclear-powered pneumatic suit is capable of some serious feats of strength, and appears to weigh as much as a Vault door. In light of this, the battle between a full set of power armour and the foot of a Brotherhood Initiate ends about as well as you’d expect.

This is a clear contravention of the guidelines for working around hazardous machinery and equipment. Hazard lights and an aural warning should have been included to increase the awareness of the victim, while proper training should also have enabled a safer interaction with the suit. The only saving grace is that there was an emergency shutdown facility when the crushing injury happened – preventing the armour from claiming a life, and not just a limb.

Hazard rating: 7/10

Crawl out through the Fallout

Trapping injuries may not sound serious, but they can be among the worst and most common workplace accidents. The doors in Fallout’s Vaults are a prime example of this danger. Despite a door being used at one point to slice an invading raider in half, two of the Vault Dwellers later crawl under a door that is jammed one-third open, seemingly oblivious to the risk of it suddenly closing.

A lockout, tag out (LOTO) process and powering down of systems should be enforced before attempting to traverse a door like this, but we’re placing most of the blame on Vault-Tec. You may be America’s biggest (and possibly only surviving) company, but there’s no excuse for not using sensors to prevent your doors from closing while obstructed. The absence of this technology in a world of robots and fusion speaks to the desperate state of health and safety compliance.

Hazard rating: 8/10


Banner image credit: Bethesda Softworks