For the last few weeks WorkSafe Victoria has been running new injury prevention advertisements based on a game show theme of playing the odds on injuring a worker. The curiosity of this campaign is that humour and a little bit of shame has been employed to communicate.
It is refreshing for an OHS regulator to use humour in the aim of improving workplace safety particularly as this attempt avoids the slapstick humour that has been tried in the past by several safety organisations. Workplace injuries are not a laughing matter but a gentle humour can be used to prick the conscience of those who have safety obligations.
Conversations with OHS peers on these ads has shown a perplexity over these ads. Those who have established a public face or a reputation in the safety field are unsure whether laughing or, at the least, being amused is appropriate. There is a fine line between mockery and amusement so hesitation is understandable.
More comfortable for familiar safety-related humour comes from Mark Thomas with his assault on industrial or corporate manslaughter on UK television earlier this decade. For those in Australia who are applauding the increased attention in OHS laws to corporate accountability and due diligence, all three parts of Thomas’ routine from Youtube are obligatory. The first part is below.
John Culvenor makes a valid point in his new blog, safedesign, that WorkSafe ads ignore the relevance of safe design principles in eliminating the hazards in the first place. Culvenor says that “being clever or amusing is only useful if the message is useful.” (Culvenor’s venture into the OHS blogosphere is a welcome addition)
Also, it seems overdue for WorkSafe Victoria or other Australian OHS regulator to provide a series of advertisements addressing the psychosocial issues of fatigue, stress and mental health. It is very surprising that all of the increased community awareness of workplace bullying has not resulted in one real advertising campaign in Australia.
In 2009 Sweden tried an anti-bullying advertisement but it is a messy combination of workplace and schoolyard bullying.
But it seems for every anti-bullying commercial, there is also one that uses workplace intimidation in a distasteful manner.
The videos above show just how challenging the promotion of safe management and safe behaviours is and the risks of using humour.