Safety goes to Hollywood: What Cary Grant can teach us about threat assessments

shutterstock_297899564He’s one of the most popular and celebrated actors of all time, he was an idol to millions and has an quickly recognisable voice. Nevertheless, what you could not know about Hollywood legend Cary Grant is that he can teach us a lot about danger assessments!

That is right, there’s a direct link between the man christened Archibald Leach and your legal duty to carry out &#8216suitable and enough&#8217 wellness and security danger assessments. A lot more precisely, one particular scene offers the link&#8230

“That&#8217s funny, that plane&#8217s dustin&#8217 crops where there ain&#8217t no crops&#8230”

One particular of the most memorable scenes from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller North by Northwest characteristics Cary Grant running across a crop field chased by a little plane fitted with a machine gun. It is a wonderful and iconic piece of cinema, but what can it teach us about threat assessments?

Let’s quickly give the scene a bit of context Grant’s character – advertising executive Roger Thornhill &#8211 has been mistaken for an international super spy and is becoming pursued across America by enemy agents. In a bid to cease the pursuers, Thornhill arranges to meet the true spy on a remote road close to Chicago.shutterstock_78985789

So just before we’ve even started the scene we’ve got a significant error from Thornhill. Regardless of having the meeting arranged by Eve Marie Saint’s femme fatale Eve Kendall, he travels alone to the meeting point. Lone working needs a complete audit at the best of instances (and meeting a educated assassin in the middle of nowhere undoubtedly isn’t the greatest of occasions!). Thornhill need to have at least drafted up an action program to assess the risks. That way he may possibly have avoided some of his subsequent issues&#8230

Appropriate and enough

To his credit, Thornhill cleverly spots a prospective hazard in the type of a crop-duster, which is dusting a field that doesn’t include crops. This alerts him to a prospective danger (i.e. that the plane is fitted with machine guns) and ultimately saves his life. Hazard spotting is the first step towards finishing &#8216suitable and enough&#8217 threat assessments. Had he had more time, then Thornhill could have assessed the region and identified more potential hazards.

Thornhill becomes aware of the crop-duster due to the loud noise it is creating. It some techniques this was an error by the enemy. Had they carried out a noise assessment of their strategy, they would have found that the plane emitted excessive noise levels, which had been not only detrimental to the mission but also possible hazardous to the pilot. A noise assessment would estimate the individual every day noise exposure of personnel and determine measures required to get rid of or minimize threat, handle exposure and shield personnel. Had this occurred then the complete episode would have played out really differently.

Dusting off

The subsequent portion of the scene sees the plane chase our hero across the field whilst firing a hail of bullets. Fairly rightly, Thornhill sprints away from the plane to escape the bullets.   However, had the plane merely been dusting crops, then Grant would still have been equally wise to have run away. Exposure to dust clouds, such as these developed by crop spraying in the sixties, is a extreme health threat as clouds can contain numerous hazardous chemical compounds which can lead to significant well being concerns. As portion of a risk assessment, assessors will report on exposure levels, legal compliance and suggested control measures.

Certainly, a dust cloud played an important part in the ultimate fate of Thornhill. Having evaded the plane, he hides in a cornfield. Even so, the crop duster decides to utilise its main function and unleashes a enormous dust cloud over the region. Exposed to the chemicals and pesticides, Thornhill is forced to flee back to the road. At which point a huge petrol tanker arrives and virtually runs more than our hero, ahead of the plane loses sight due to the dust cloud and crashes into the tanker causing a massive fire.

Blaze of glory?

Properly firstly, kudos to the driver, who carried out a excellent emergency stop soon after seeing a frantic Cary Grant running in front of his car. Offered the driver’s higher talent levels, it appears most likely that his employers will have carried out a workplace transport assessment, which will have ensured that the appropriate particular person was performing the part, as properly as assessing other issues such as the automobile and the visitors routes.


The other big issue (ignoring the presumed death of the evil pilot) is the huge fire brought on by the crash. The very good news for the driver was that he had a suitable indicates of escape and could clear the location, as properly as ensuring that Thornhill was also clear from the fire. Obtaining a suitable indicates of escape is a important element of a fire danger assessment. In addition, assessors would also look at sources of ignition, warning systems, risk to personnel and several much more.

Roll the credits

Who’d have guessed that 1 of the most renowned scenes from film history could teach us so a lot about risk assessments? Hazards, noise, dust, transport and fire are all covered in just five minutes of cinema. So, even if you do not take place to have Cary Grant operating for you, there’s no excuse not to execute your legal duty and carry out &#8216suitable and sufficient&#8217 well being and security danger assessments. And who knows, if you do a good adequate job, you may well uncover your self with a star on RoSPA’s quite own walk of fame&#8230

For much more thoughts, essential well being and safety guides, information and guidance, please sign up to SafetyMatters, RoSPA’s free fortnightly newsletter, and get our collection of totally free original e-books!

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