How Risky is Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones Assessing The Risk

To celebrate the impending return of the fantastic Game of Thrones to our TV screens at the end of June (speculative date – IMDB believe the first episode will air on the 25th June), Callidus Health & Safety discuss health & safety in Westeros. In particular, the risks at Castle Black and the Night’s Watch.

A brief overview for those unfamiliar with the hit HBO show – Game of Thrones is set in a fictional world with the storyline primarily focussed on a number of warring families in the land of the seven kingdoms, Westeros.

To the far North of Westeros lies ‘The Wall’, built millennia ago to keep out a long forgotten enemy.

The Wall is 300 miles long, over 700 feet tall and constructed largely out of solid ice. It is defended by the Sworn Brothers of the Night’s Watch, who man three castles along the foot of the wall, as well as battlements above. Their headquarters is called Castle Black.


Game of Thrones Risk #1 – The Cold

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, working in consistently cold environments can potentially be life threatening.

The human body must maintain a steady core temperature of +37°C to preserve normal body functioning as well as provide energy for activity.

We can lose heat in the following ways:

  • Radiation – Loss of heat to the environment due to the temperature gradient. I.e. the difference the temperature of the air and the temperature of the body
  • Conduction – Loss of heat through direct contact with a cooler object
  • Convection – Loss of heat from the body to the surrounding air as the air moves across the surface of the body
  • Evaporation – Loss of heat due to the conversion of water from a liquid to a gas, for example perspiration

To maintain their body temperature while working in and around Castle Black, the brothers of the Night’s Watch will need to ensure they wrap up warm and try to minimise the amount of skin exposed to the cold when working outdoors.

To reduce the chances of hypothermia, physical activity and sufficient food intake is a must. The physical demands of a working castle would certainly help keep the Brothers warm, and frequent hearty meals would help keep energy levels high.


Game of Thrones Risk #2 – Working at Height

The Wall is over 700 feet tall and clearly presents a significant risk to the men assigned to duties up at the top, along with the Builders whose job it is to maintain its structural stability.

The HSE offers the following advice for working at height:

  • Work as much as possible from the ground(!)
  • Ensure workers can get safely to and from where they work at height
  • Ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job, maintained and checked regularly
  • Take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces
  • Provide protection from falling objects
  • Consider emergency evacuation and rescue procedures

Fans of the show will recognise a lot of this advice is actually implemented by the Night’s Watch. A gated lift is used to ferry Brothers to and from the top of the Wall and there is plenty of edge protection along the top, besides from the gaps on the northern edge from where rocks and projectiles can be launched against would-be attackers!

Harnesses can be seen in some scenes lowering archers over the edge, we can assume they use the same equipment when completing regular maintenance.


Game of Thrones Risk #3 – ‘Working with Blades’

The Night’s Watch is an army tasked with defending the realm against anything north of the Wall. As such, each day any Sworn Brother might have need of a blade, whether to help prepare the evening meal or, more likely, to remove the head of an attacker.

The British Meat Processors Association has developed health and safety guidance notes in collaboration with the Health and Safety Executive. On the safe use of knives, the BMPA states that, “Most injuries can be prevented if operators wear the right protective clothing, in particular protective aprons and gloves.”

It’s also highlighted that sufficient training should be given to all new employees including a thorough grounding in the dangers associated with misuse of knives.

The first step in risk management is to first try and remove the risk completely. However, as desertion from the Night’s Watch is punishable by death, we’d recommend becoming the best swordsperson you can be. Plenty of training, well-maintained armour, and even a shield, would all aid in minimising the risk of cuts, scrapes or anything more serious.


Summary – Game of Thrones Assessing The Risk

Westeros is a risky place at the best of times and Castle Black might be the worst.

It’s not just the bitter cold, the hard labour and the Wall itself that the Brothers of the Night’s Watch have to contend with. The Wildlings North of the Wall are after blood, and there’s always in-fighting to avoid too.

Oh, and there’s the potential to be brought back from the dead to join the army of the Night’s Watch ancient enemy, the “White Walkers” whose only weakness we know of is ‘Dragonglass’ – more commonly known as obsidian.

So whilst we’d advise any potential Brothers of the Night’s Watch to wrap up warm, eat well and never miss a sword practice… I think we’ll just stick to the sofa and our usual Monday night ritual of Game of Thrones and pizza.

Courtesy of Mark Burselm - Callidus Health and Safety

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