Safety posters about the reality of safety

Recently a colleague was asking why there was no reality in many of the workplace safety posters.  Many countries are continuing with confronting campaigns or workplace injuries and fatalities but it is easy to suffer from graphic “fatigue” and a new approach is required.  Part of this cycle has resulted in WorkSafe Victoria’s successful Homecomings campaign but even that campaign has a diminished impact, over time.

So I had a go at a couple of posters that I thought reflect the reality of workplace injuries and fatalities but also pack a punch.  These posters were produced separately to any safety campaign and solely in response to my colleague’s comment.

I would welcome constructive criticism on these posters and their relevance to workplace safety.

I have also Mummy equivalents available and should add that these images have come from a photo library.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

18 thoughts on “Safety posters about the reality of safety”

  1. If they spent the money on direct inspection of workplaces with compliance notices issued, I think that just might help Mummy and Daddy get home safely.

    The fluff and stuff campaigns along with fabulous self congratulatory awards programs have not done a lot to diminish volume and severity of injuries and worse, deaths in the work place. You can massage and interpret the stats as much as you like, the bottom line is a failure in duty of care by the regulators and a large swathe of employers given the outcome as shown in numbers and severity of injuries subject to workers compensation claim. The areas of prevention and compensation cannot be separated.

    1. Hi Tony,
      Whilst I agree that employers need to be on their toes with provision of safe workplaces, I don’t believe direct inspection of workplaces will prevent people committing unsafe acts – either deliberately or due to lack of recognition of the associated risks.
      If we can get every worker considering the adverse effects of their actions BEFORE they act we may get more workers stopping and thinking BEFORE acting unsafely.
      If we can get them to think about the place they’re working in, the plant & substances they are working with, the processes they are to follow and their respective competency and capability to to the task, I believe we’d see a dramatic reduction in injuries.
      This approach then results in workplaces being inspected every time they are used rather just when an ‘inspector’ attends from a regulatory perspective.

      1. Les, I support the prevention as workplace safety is the principle responsibility of those at the workplace, and not the regulator however there is some interesting research from the US that supports the significant impact on safety performance that regulatory inspections can generate. You’ll see an article on this research early next week in the SafetyAtWorkBlog.

  2. 1. These messages are about “safe people” – the lowest control in the hierarchy. Safe work, safe systems – how do you advertise / promote that?

    2. Reality adverts run the risk of deeply wounding grieving families who see them.

    1. Hi Grant,
      Every injury that ever happened was due to a person perfroming an unsafe act. Yes, it may have been in conjunction with an unsafe workplace, unsafe plant or unsafe process but in the end it the person’s willingness to perfrom the act that was the catalyst fo the injury.
      Hence we need to be enouraging workers to think about the potential risks associated with their act BEFORE they act. “Is the machine/substance/process safe? If not STOP and get it corrected BEFORE it hurts you”.

  3. The first one looks like shs is acting (badly), so it has no impact. The second one, that boy is really crying (notice the spit line from his lip) and that has more impact.

    On another note, what did they do to the kid to make him cry?

  4. Hi Kevin,
    I think your efforts are very effective. Though I wonder if the ‘stay safe… ‘ statements could be emphasised. Those statements didn’t register initially as I was seeing the faces of the children in relation to the ‘when’s daddy… ‘ statements. My initial reaction was that these images could relate to ‘split’ families.
    Whilst we, as safety professionals, need workplaces to focus on preventing fatal and maiming type injuries, we also need to see that the vast majority of injuries are in the medical treatment (MTI) and lost time (LTI) spectra.
    For example – I currently work in the disability sector where challenging/assualtive behaviour and manual handling are the primary risks. I doubt I will see a workplace fatality, except maybe in relation to an MVA, and hence the graphic content that others are recommending will not be relevant to the workers in my industry.
    But these MTIs ad LTIs also have the effect of stressing family members, though not to the same degree overall.
    A young child may not recognise the difference between ‘daddy’s in hospital’ and ‘daddy’s been killed at work’. The fact is, for them, daddy/mummy’s not here.
    To this end, your posters provide a very efective generic perspective that can be used for wide broadcast applications to encourage EVERYONE in ALL industries to think about how they are working and to aim at ‘coming home’ on time.

  5. I would think it difficult to find anyone who would not find these posters emotive. Thank you Kevin for providing another medium to sell an important message to our workforce.

  6. Kevin perhaps as well people realise those chidren are actors and this is staged its more confronting and real to see the graphic results of real injuries ,I know what its like to get blood on your hands from real injuries.
    People see simulated horror fims and become blaise, more confronting would be to view someone talking about the affects on their life who is showing their scars or stumps I know this sounds callous and I dont like it ,but to reach some of these individuals who cant relate you have to be brutal

  7. purpose conceived images do have the most impact, however a well planned series of messages that covers many mediums is always helpful. we all need to be aware that even when we are not in our own workplace, we are in someones workplace and that safety is always important.

  8. When Keith Brown was the CEO of WorkCover SA, he ran real advertising based on real events.
    The one that even now sends shivers down my spine is black and white the picure is of the backwheel of a tractor in the middle of a paddock, there are footprints in the mud and a mud and blood splattered pink toy rabbit.
    The advert was confronting to say the least but it alerted farmers to the need for safety for their children after the death of a 3yrold girl on a rural property.

    Then there was another very confronting advert where there was a pair of feet with a morgue tag around a big toe.

    Safety adverts have to be hard hitting and relevant otherwise the effort is wasted.

      1. Yes Kevin there is emotional impact with your efforts.
        as a parent and grandparent I know all too well the stress my own workplace injury brings into the lives of my family.

        As a community advocate for injured workers I see all to often the confusion and the fear in the lives of the children who have no way of understanding what is going on in the lives of their Mum or Dad, they just know that things are wrong.

        I take time to sit with the children to explain in words that they can understand what has happened and that even though things aren’t right at the moment everything will return to good again.
        It is much harder when there has been a workplace death because the children are very stressed because they have no understanding that a workplace can be unsafe.

        Children need to be spoken with in their own words and with a person who will go down to their height.

        Whether or not others look at the images of children in fear and understand the message that has been created, I can not say.
        All I can say is that there is baseline fear for the children in the images that adults should react to and understand.

  9. I dont believe that people will always relate to sad families ,graphic pictures of maiming and disfigurement of applicable industries sited at those industries would have an impact or induction and yearly interview footage with these survivors showing their real workplace injuries will stay in peoples minds if they can see they could be at the same risk

    1. I agree that images from one’s own workplace have the most resonance. There are several companies out there who produce tailored induction videos and images but they don’t “travel” to other industries or workplaces well, so a generic image can be a little more useful.

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