Written by Liam Thomas and Alex Gotsis


This is a text adventure. We begin by attempting to visit every room of the text adventure, noting that many rooms contain things the narrator describes as “unsafe” or “unhealthy”, or which outright kill the player. First, we should access everything in every place. One possible sequence of commands is:

take cigarettes / n / take ladder / e / e / open cabinet / take flashlight / turn on flashlight / w / w / n / e / take rusty key / s / unlock shack with rusty key / open shack / enter shack / take car key / out / e / s / drop ladder / climb ladder / enter basket / press panel / out / n / e / s / take ladder / n / w / s / enter basket / press panel / out / drop ladder / take device / press device / enter basket / press panel / out / n / e / n / unlock van with car key / open van / take lighter

Here are some interesting ways to die:

  • Trying to smoke in the pipeworks
  • Jumping while on the scaffolding around the tower
  • Staying too long in the tunnels
  • Entering the compressed air chamber in the tunnels
  • Trying to climb onto the boat to get the red herring
  • Kicking a steel girder
  • Sitting down while in the basket while it’s in the air

The next key realization is that this is a puzzle about OSHA violations - besides the unsafe work environment, the words “occupation”, “safety”, “health”, and “administration” appear throughout the text. Each room in the text adventure is full of OSHA violations corresponding to a particular subsection of the OSHA 1926 CFR for construction safety standards.

Tunnel: Subpart S (Underground Construction, Caissons, Cofferdams, and Compressed Air)

  • 1926.800(b)(1): The holes in the ground near the tunnel qualify as a lack of means of safe access and egress.
  • 1926.800(g)(4): There are no provided hand-portable lamps or flashlights - you had to bring your own.
  • 1926.800(k)(1)(i): The lack of ventilation eventually kills the player.
  • 1926.803(e)(2) and 1926.803(e)(3): The pressure in the compressed air chamber rises far more quickly than allowed in the regulation.
  • 1926.803(e)(5): The player is subjected to 60 psi of pressure, greater than the 50 psi allowed by regulations.

Warehouse: Subpart H (Materials Handling, Storage, Use, and Disposal)

  • 1926.250(a)(1): Things in the warehouse are definitely not racked for safe stacking.
  • 1926.250(b)(6): The brick stack is untapered and taller than 7 feet.
  • 1926.250(b)(8)(i): The lumber has not had nails removed before stacking and storage.
  • 1926.252(b): Barriers surrounding the garbage pile are too short.
  • 1926.252(c): Dropped garbage and lumber has not been cleared from the work area.

Garage: Subpart O (Motor Vehicles, Mechanized Equipment, and Marine Operations)

  • 1926.601(b)(2)(i): The van’s tail lights are broken.
  • 1926.601(b)(5): The van has a cracked windshield.
  • 1926.601(b)(9): The van lacks seatbelts.
  • 1926.605(c)(1): The boat’s deck lacks a rope or handrail.

Courtyard: Subpart R (Steel Erection)

  • 1926.755(a)(1): Columns are only anchored by 3 bolts.
  • 1926.759(a): Items held aloft are not properly secured, and can Donkey-Kong style roll onto and crush the player.

Center: Subpart T (Demolition)

  • 1926.850(c): The gas is still running (which can cause you to blow yourself up).
  • 1926.850(f): Broken glass has not been cleaned up.
  • 1926.850(i): A floor opening not being used as a material drop is not properly covered.
  • 1926.855(a): The hole in the floor does not cut along the entirety of its supporting arch.

Pipeworks: Subpart F (Fire Protection and Prevention)

  • 1926.151(c)(3): Weeds and grass cover the floor.
  • 1926.152(b)(1): More than 25 gallons of flammable liquid is being stored outside of an approved cabinet.
  • 1926.152(b)(2)(iii): The warning label on the cabinet has been scratched off.
  • 1926.152(g)(9): The no-smoking sign is now illegible.

Entrance: Subpart A (General)

  • 1926.3: The player, a safety inspector, has been denied entry to the site earlier in the day (hence the covert entrance)

Pit: Subpart L (Scaffolds)

  • 1926.453(b)(2)(iv): The player can sit in the basket of the boom lift.
  • 1926.453(b)(2)(ix): The boom lift lacks a lower control panel.

Tower: Subpart L (Scaffolds)

  • 1926.451(a)(1): The scaffold is not able to support the weight of a single person jumping.
  • 1926.451(b)(2): The walkway is less than 18 inches wide.
  • 1926.451(c)(1): The scaffold is more than 4 times tall as it is wide, but is not braced to prevent tipping.
  • 1926.451(e)(1): The scaffold lacks a ladder or other method of access.

Reading the subpart letters in reading (West-East/North-South) order gives SHORTFALL, the answer to the puzzle.

Author's Notes

Did you know that in 2019, OSHA reported that 5,333 workers died on the job? You can work to make your workplace safer by making sure that it is OSHA compliant. The most common violations reported relate to fall protection, hazard communication, and respiratory protection - do your part to reduce workplace fatality and injury!