“Imagination at work” but not safety

GE Capital placed a full-page pictorial advertisement in The Age newspaper on 4 March 2010 (page 5 of the business section).  The ad, partly reproduced below, promotes the company’s financial services with the corporate slogan of “imagination at work”.  Sadly safety at work wasn’t included in the ad.

SafetyAtWorkBlog readers are asked to list the workplace hazards in this picture.  Below is a quick list of some obvious hazards:

  • Not everyone is wearing a hard hat.  Okay this is not often a requirement in a warehouse, however having a hard hat and not wearing it is pointless.
  • There is no separation between pedestrians and an active forklift.
  • The pedestrians may be difficult for the forklift driver to see.  It has become standard practice for pedestrians to wear high-visibility clothing or vests when sharing an area with vehicles.
  • Some pedestrians have safety shoes.  At least one does not.
  • There are no warning signs for either the pedestrians or forklift driver.
  • There is no painted pedestrian walkway or other indications of a pedestrians-only thoroughfare.

Not all of these are breaches of OHS law but all are breaches of OHS guidelines, codes and industry practice.

The full-page ad pitches GE Capital as your business’ financial friend, a possible partner that can help you

“take hold of great opportunities as they happen”.

The company says that

“We look at your total business, not just the balance sheet, to provide financial solutions that will help drive your performance, today and tomorrow.”

The ad implies that GE Capital does not understand occupational health and safety issues in warehouses.  Should this be expected from a financial institution? Probably not.  Should this awareness be expected of an advertising agency who produced the ad? Probably not.  However the advertising agency should have had the ad given the once over by a safety professional or, better yet, have consulted with a safety professional in the design of the ad.  GE Capital would have been given sign-off over the ad and should be some of the embarrassment over the safety faux pas.

Several times I have been involved in “proofing” ads and training videos for safety compliance.  One involved script editing for a training video on OHS in schools.  Sadly the filming was already done and so there were many safety oversights in the imagery, such as PPE not being worn correctly, or worn at all.  The other incident was advising on the type of PPE that would have been worn by a DIY-er putting a shed together using a steel manufacturer’s product.  Advice was given in that case prior to shooting.

The overall concern with the GE Capital ad from the safety perspective is that it probably reflects the reality but it is a reality that OHS authorities are spending many thousands of dollars to remedy, and when a full page ad from a multi-national corporation in a major daily newspaper, workplace safety takes a step backwards.

GE Capital was approached for its comments on the hazards in the ad.

Kevin Jones

UPDATE: 5 March 2010

A spokesperson for GE Capital emailed the following to SafetyAtWorkBlog:

“GE certainly takes occupational health and safety very seriously. On this occasion with this advertising image we missed the mark. As a result we’re amending it for future use.

With this image we were trying to represent the breadth of the 130 industries with whom our corporate finance advisers deal.  Normally in our Capital business we use advertising images showing more benign ‘social’ or ‘family’ environments – rather than industrial work-places like warehouses.  In this instance our normal sign-off processes were not enough and we have noted this for future reference.”

reservoir, victoria, australia

3 thoughts on ““Imagination at work” but not safety”

  1. Interesting article. I do due diligence consulting work from an OHS perspective for a \’Big 4\’ before they decide to purchase / finance an asset. Very forward thinking. Sadly the GE team hasn\’t thought this far ahead yet.

  2. That tells you where safety rates in the business psyche. Apart from lip service, documentation and window dressing it is not taken very seriously by the great unwashed. The figures don\’t lie

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