Safety First, is a dig at the absurdity of some of the training and concepts behind occupational health and safety (OHS) and is showing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The comedy does not ridicule OHS as a concept but focuses on the idiotic, semi-informed trainers who talk about safety whilst also, often, talking shit. The humour is effective and occasionally generates discomfort for its proximity to reality.
Cole’s use of PowerPoint to explain his safety triangle reflects the lack of careful thought many trainers show. He has a good grasp of the training jargon that indicates engagement with an audience but also reveals the ineptitude of the trainer and the hollowness of the message.
His stories, or “case studies”, of injuries are not so different from the blathering anecdotes of many OHS trainers and once one realises the movie origins of the stories, the humour increases, particularly as the disabilities mount for George Clooney (not the Hollywood George Clooney). Cole covers major OHS issues such as emergency evacuations, First Aid – especially CPR, with audience participation, and hazard identification. The OHS profession is crying out for more humour and Safety First is a good start however the show could be longer and use some slapstick.
It could benefit from being reviewed and updated by a safety or training professional to broaden its appeal by including additional ridicule of human resources, safety leadership and wellness. At the moment Safety First is very funny but it could easily develop from parody to executive satire. For those looking for online humour about workplace safety try
- The fire drill from The Office, and
- Mark Thomas‘ discussion on industrial manslaughter laws
- but do not watch The Wright Way unless you want to know how NOT to write a sitcom about OHS.