By Andrew Byrd
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a pretty famous piece of pop culture. It mixes the charming tale of a down-on-his-luck child winning the chance of a lifetime and the ensuing graphic, possibly lethal incidents said child proceeds to witness. The fact Willy Wonka tortures the families he takes on a tour of his factory has been documented extensively over the years – he’s like if the Jigsaw puppet were a snazzy dresser. What I’m more concerned about is the numerous flagrant safety, health, and employee welfare violations Wonka is perfectly fine with allowing in his candy-coated nightmare realm. I can’t help but view the movie through the eyes of a jaded factory inspector.
Before you accuse me of judging this fictional candy man’s operation from an ivory tower, you should know I hold an OSHA certification in workplace safety as well as a few other certifications in handling hazardous materials. Oh yeah, baby. I am all sorts of legitimate up in here. Now that my very real credentials are out of the way, here are the various workplace violations that exist in a made-up chocolate factory.
The Factory Entrance is Problematic
The first thing the tour group encounters in Willy Wonka’s sugary funhouse is a very unique set of coat hangers.
Either those things are the world’s gaudiest application of robotics, or Wonka has employees whose sole job is to stand behind a wall, hands outstretched, waiting to shock hapless visitors. And remember: no outsider has been in this factory for years. That means the coat racks have been wasting their lives waiting for tourists that never show up. Those aren’t golden gloves they’re wearing, either. It’s paint. Likely the same kind of paint that nearly killed the original Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. Eccentric chocolatier or not, that’s blatant employee endangerment, Willy.
Before guests enter the inner sanctum of Mr. Wonka’s Funtime Workshop, they must sign a contract.
What in the name of Tom Walker is that? A contract that eventually turns into smeared lines of ink, then blank paper? Piss off, you purple-clad snozberry. There’s no way that thing would hold up in court. (I know it’s technically not a safety hazard, but I can’t let such an abuse of the law slide.)
Next is the passageway into the central nervous system of Wee Willy Wonka’s pride and joy.
There’s only one door in that tiny room. If a fire breaks out, everyone in there is going to wind up flambéed. On top of that, Wonka couldn’t care less about calming his (rightfully) panicking guests, but instead goofs off while they nearly crush each other. That, my friends, is what professionals in the safety biz refer to as “a big no-no.” This is strike three, and we haven’t even seen the actual factory yet.
The Chocolate Room is OSHA’s Worst Nightmare
Aside from haphazardly whipping his cane at the tourists for a few bars of melody, Willy Wonka does nothing to keep them all from running wild in what he refers to as “the nerve center” of his whole operation. I’m no manufacturing expert, but allowing a group of strangers to treat my factory like a Nickelodeon Super Toy Run seems like it would cause more problems than it’s worth.
Annnnd sure enough, someone’s ruined the pure chocolate river.
Bare hands and everything. See, this is the kind of health violation that could be easily avoided if there were, I dunno, a fence or something? I guess you’ll just have to empty it all and start over, Wonka. No harm, no f-
D-did that kid just die? Is he dead? Sweet holy Christmas, a child just drowned in chocolate and Wonka is standing there grinning like a lunatic while the Oompa Loompas sing about what a fat piece of garbage the boy was.
“Ha-haaa! Screw you, fat boy!”
I’m not sure exactly which regulation (all of) this breaks, but at the very least it’s an unstable business practice. This isn’t the 1920s – morally sound business owners don’t go around allowing children to perish in their factories anymore. Not only that, but the candy man also informs the boy’s mother that her son might be boiled alive. The nonchalant manner in which he handles all of this makes me wonder how many times Wonka has witnessed someone drowning and/or being turned into fudge. I’d wager at least one Oompa Loompa a month bites the Smarties dust that way.
By the way, Wonka – Loompaland? Give me a break. These folks are clearly sweatshop laborers who you force to wear body paint, wigs, and white overalls. Look, I’m not here to judge anyone’s kink, but forced labor mixed with a total lack of safety barriers is a recipe for catastrophe.
No Insurance Company is Going to Cover that Boat Ride
Imagine you’re Gregory Insurance. Now imagine a customer said to you, “Hello, Mr. Insurance. Please include this whimsical boat ride in my coverage plan. It has no seat belts and appears to put everyone’s life in danger for no reason. It also projects, just, the creepiest scenes imaginable on its tunnel walls. By the way, during the ride I behave like a drug-addled maniac and shout heinous poems at my terrified passengers. How much will my premium increase?”
Your initial reaction is going to be the sort of confusion that usually only comes after repeating your own name until it loses all meaning. Your next response would most likely be “No. Right? I’m definitely supposed to say no to this.” Let the people walk while you spend money on launching stuff into space like a decent eccentric rich guy, Wonka. Jeez.
The Lack of Employee Safety Equipment is Troubling
Let’s take a look at the chocolate factory’s Inventing Room:
That’s a whole lot of moving mechanical parts, mixing chemicals, and boiling liquids, and a complete absence of personal protective equipment (PPE for short. Knowledge!). Not even a pair of safety glasses. That ladder is roughly 2 ½ times taller than the Oompa Loompa standing on it. At a minimum, he should at least be wearing a helmet. For shame, you diabetes-peddling huckster.
Wonkaland is also home to the world’s first weaponized bubble machine:
That’s ol’ Grandpa Joe, fighting for his life as Willy Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink (patent pending) brings him ever-closer to a giant unguarded metal fan. Don’t give me any of that “If they hadn’t stolen a sip of the drink, this wouldn’t have happened” gobstop, either. This bubble room is a product testing chamber if I’ve ever seen one. Much like the chocolate river (R.I.P. Augustus), I’d bet my golden ticket that this thing has made a few Oompa Loompas doompety dead.
Sure, the Demon Farmer of Sweet Treats provides PPE to his guests and employees in the WonkaVision™ room. I applaud him for that.
The problem is, there are no protective measures against the major danger in that room: getting split into a million particles and reassembled ten times smaller than your natural size. While the process doesn’t seem to cause any physical harm, the procedure to reverse it sounds like a life-threatening ordeal. Wonka tells the Oompa Loompa in charge of stretching Mike Teavee back to normal that he “won’t hold [the Oompa Loompa] responsible” for any mishaps. That poor kid probably ended up with a broken spine, all because a crazy chocolatier doesn’t believe in toggle switch guards.
Similar to the earlier Augustus Gloop debacle, there’s a good chance Veruca Salt ends up dying a horrific death in a furnace. Yes, she is a spoiled brat. Yes, she undoes what was probably several hours’ worth of Loompa labor.
Does that mean she deserved a fiery death at the hands of misanthropic sugar lobbyist? Absolutely not. If I’m inspecting a factory and find out there’s a machine that can 1) decide a human is rotten to the core and 2) send that human straight into a flaming garbage pit, I’m shutting that place down and calling my homeboy Upton Sinclair. Install a grate with a golden-egg-sized hole in it, Willy. It’s not that difficult.
Your Wallpaper is Disgusting and You’re a Gross, Gross Man, Willy Wonka
One of the highlights of the tour is Wonka’s lickable wallpaper.
You know, like you see on HGTV.
Even ignoring the filthy meaning behind snozberry-flavored…anything, this wall is a flagrant health hazard. There’s no telling how many Oompa Loompas have licked that thing since the paper was put up. You ever start in on a lollipop, leave it out in the open for a few years, then let someone else lick it? Of course you haven’t! Because that’s disgusting. And Lurkers are the highest class of individuals. By allowing these unsuspecting visitors to put their tongues on that wallpaper, Wonka is exposing them to who knows how many diseases and illnesses. Gross.
The Wonkavator™ is a Madman’s Wet Dream
As Wonka describes it, his glass elevator “can go sideways, and slantways, and longways, and backways, and squareways, and frontways…”
I’ll counter that fanciful sentence with one of my own: what in the everloving fart muffin? The engineer who was in charge of building the Wonkavator looked at the blueprints once, started screaming in a long-forgotten language, and jumped into the nearest candy death trap. Understanding the mechanics of making a contraption like that work would require witchcraft at best, and at worst a PhD in the confectionery arts. The chances of the Wonkavator™ malfunctioning in terrifying ways are extremely good.
Not only that, but the thing has a button for the sole purpose of crashing through the factory’s glass ceiling.
That button can only be used once. No test run exists. Either the elevator is destroyed on impact, slicing its passengers to pieces, or it rockets through the plate glass roof unscathed and shoots into the sky. Both outcomes are major safety concerns that call for intervention.
I think the best option is to shut the whole Wonka operation down until his factory of horrors can be refurbished into something less disaster-prone. Sorry everyone, the crazy man’s candy workshop is closed for the time being.
Go buy a Hershey’s bar or something.
Andrew will give you the grandest of grand tours on Twitter.