WorkSafe tries new twist on OHS ads

On 2 January 2011, WorkSafe Victoria launched a new advertisement that presents a new twist on their “homecoming” campaign.  It focuses on the “door knock” – a process many police dread where they must inform the family of the death of a relative.

The ad is a fresh and new dimension on the long-running OHS awareness campaign and is welcome.  The timing of the new ad – in the early weeks of January when many businesses remain closed, is odd but if the ad is placed in prime time viewing, the impact may be more significant than otherwise.

It is useful to re-read Yossi Berger’s perspective on WorkSafe’s advertising campaigns in the light of the new ad.

In a media release, WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health & Safety, Ian Forsyth, says:

“We’ve had to take a tougher line because while death and injury rates are dropping, it’s not happening fast enough.  It traumatises families, the community and business.”

The community has always wanted OHS regulators to be able to decrease injury and death quickly but this is rarely possible, a fact acknowledged by the Australian OHS regulators in 2002 when the ten-year National OHS Strategy was announced.  The implication of a deadline in the quote above may be an acknowledgement that improvements in safety management and regulation need to be quicker.

Forsyth provides some statistics for Victoria’s performance in 2010:

“Twenty-three Victorians died as a result of workplace safety incidents in 2010, dozens more received life threatening injuries and more than 29,000 suffered the full range of serious, but entirely preventable injuries.”

Berger argues that advertising does not directly save lives and that better results may be gained by allocating the advertising budget to increase inspections and enforcement.

It could be argued that awareness-raising will never stop because there are new generations and new citizens who need to learn the lessons that their parents or their communities fail to deliver.  The award-winning “Homecomings” ad campaign has been running for many years and it has won many awards but to what extent can it be granted the credit in injury and fatality reduction?  Public health and safety advertising has always contained an element of the “dark arts” in that the cause and effect is often hard to identify but with such a long campaign surely WorkSafe should be able to quantify the contribution its “Homecomings” campaign has made to injury rates.

Kevin Jones

10 thoughts on “WorkSafe tries new twist on OHS ads”

  1. As a former Paramedic who now works in OHS as an advisor, I am pleased to see WorkSafe Vic taking the same approach as the TAC. I\’ve been to far too many workplace accidents that resulted in death or serious injury. 20 odd deaths in Victoria in the workplace last year – not good enough people!

    Zero injuries – zero deaths. It can be achived.

    Assess risk and spend the money employers.

  2. I should mention that the Safety At Work blog article gave a rather false impression of what actually happened.

  3. To Rosemary MacKenzie Ferguson…….I can\’t find your email address anywhere and unable to post details on public blog.

  4. Just yesterday I shared a story from the Fairfax newspapers written by the Queensland Police Commissioner, about the road toll. He describes the effect on emergency responders of attending a fatality, and of delivering \”the death message\”, both of which are very prescient for workplace death as well:

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/please-help-me-im-dying-20101214-18vpu.html

    QLD commissioner gives police perspective on the road toll: \” ‘Please help me I’m dying’… She was 16.\”

    \”Most police have their own stories of fatals and death messages. Some time ago we stopped referring to fatals as accidents.

    We now call them crashes. We don’t like calling them accidents because they are almost always avoidable.

    How are they avoidable? What we call the fatal four is a good start. Don’t speed; don’t drink or use drugs and drive; don’t drive tired or fatigued and wear seatbelts.

    They are the most important but there are other things also, including driving to the road and weather conditions which may be well below the speed limit; showing patience and courtesy to other road users; concentrating on your driving and having your vehicle in good shape mechanically.

    And you could really help us by not just doing all of this yourself but by helping to influence as many others as you can to do the same.\”

  5. It\’s even worse when the family has to inform the police and WH&S because the business chose to clean up and not report fatal injury. There is no excuse in 21st century Australia

  6. 23 families in Victoria have just had the worst Christmas they could ever have.
    An unknown number of families in Victoria have also had the worst Christmas due to suicide within the Victorian workers compensation system.

    There is so much that needs to be done to prevent injuries and loss of life.

    Again I will return to the issue of the word \”Welfare\” it needs to be returned to the OHS process.
    If \”welfare\” is looked after at work then everyone\’s \”welfare\” is also looked after.

    I congratulate Victoria on such a strong message, it is my hope that the number of deaths due to the workplace or to the workers compensation system is reduced to zero in 2011.
    That would be worth a massive celebration.

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