Government OHS policies are, more often than not, based on statistics. The most common statistic is workers’ compensation claims as they are trackable and involve money. Another is fatality data.
Many countries have an obligation on employers to notify the proper authorities if a serious injury has occurred. We know that in some countries injuries and deaths are under-reported. In the legal, and illegal, coal mines in China, sometimes workplace deaths are actively disguised, ignored or denied.
Just this week, a Vietnam news service reported on the lack of injury reporting identified by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs’ Labour Safety Department, in Vietnam.
The report says that “only 7,000 companies reported work-related accidents” for 2008 and that this equates to only 10 per cent of the reportable accidents. Using the mathematical calculation skills of SafetyAtWorkBlog (an Arts graduate) that means that over 60,000 workplace injuries are not being reported.
Earlier this year a more explanatory article appeared which estimated 500 deaths each year form workplace incidents.
Perhaps there is some hope that if the government is aware of the lack of reporting, it can accommodate this in its national programme on labour protection, safety and hygiene that aims for a reduction of at least 5% in work incidents by 2010.
SafetyAtWorkBlog has received some terrific comments on the various marketing strategies for addressing the safety of young people at work and in their private (public) lives.
A colleague of mine in Western Australia remains sceptical of the type of imagery employed but below are two other comments:
” thanks for your posting on the alcohol campaign, you are quite correct – these are the kinds of advertisements that connect with the younger set – they have grown up in a world of gore (video games, movies, TV shows that show more and more). Older people don’t understand this – just a generation gap thing.”
“I think it is an excellent way to reach our youth. If it only saves one teenager from a life of over-drinking or saves one innocent life on a highway, it has met the purpose.”
As with many safety campaigns, the measurements of success are often difficult to find. OHS regulators point to declining fatality and injury figures but these, sometimes, don’t stand up to scrutiny. With awareness campaigns of this type, performance indicators are crucial, and should be reported publicly.
Branding strategies are okay but their aims are limited and raising one’s awareness of something does not, in itself, change behaviour. Awareness needs an extra spur for action to occur. That is why I look forward to the next stages of these campaigns. Let’s hope they build on their good work rather than tweaking a failing strategy.
SafetyAtWorkBlog has mentioned several campaigns recently focusing on promoting safety to young people through graphic ads in Australia and Canada, and enticing websites. The Queensland Government launched a promotional campaign to the same demographics this week but this one focuses on excessive, or binge, drinking. This is timely leading into the Christmas season and Summer in the Southern Hemisphere and it should be successful in its first stage of cinema advertising and social marketing. The campaign has a similar advertising structure to the graphic OHS ads but depicting a young person undertaking an activity and suddenly switching to an unexpected consequence. A spokesperson for the Every Dr1nk Counts campaign in Queensland’s Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing told SafetyAtWorkBlog that the videos are initially shown only in cinemas on targeted movie sessions as the viewer is unable to avoid the 45 second images as easily as they can a television ad. Also, cinema ads will be seen by the target audience in a group of their peers which will encourage discussion on the issues raised. The ads are confronting but are well made and subversive in getting one’s attention. Treasurer and Liquor Licensing minister Andrew Fraser said that
“This advertisement highlights the fatal consequences of excessive drinking in the hope that young adults will take notice and make more responsible choices for their futures.”
Minister Fraser also said
“our focus group research also revealed that many young people don’t realise that one stubby or one alco-pop is usually more than one drink. We are not asking young people to stop drinking, we are just asking them to recognise that there are worse consequences than a hangover.”
The correlation to youth marketing is clearly evident but excessive drinking and the associated culture of alcohol consumption is a problem that many workplaces are facing also. It is common in some industries to have a worker be unfit for work after a heavy night and for alcohol and drug policies to be introduced and enforced. There are bound to be some OHS Managers and workplaces who will see the benefit of obtaining some of the Every Dr1nk Counts resources in an workplace context.
Several colleagues have pointed to a young worker safety website that was established in Canada several years ago, http://www.notworthit.ca/ . The site, part of the WCB’s Young Worker campaign, won an award from American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds in their annual Communications Awards in 2007.
There are remarkable similarities to The Pain Factory, even to the point of encoruaging young workers to tell their own stories. The similarity is, perhaps, justified when considering the safety message is aimed at the same demographics, however it shows that originality is rare in occupational health and safety promotions. Certainly the use of internet videos is a marked difference between the sites but the success of NotWorthIt should be remembered if The Pain Factory is also put forward for advertising or communications awards.
WorkSafe CEO, John Merrit is a strong advocate of his organisation’s young worker campaign.
Another colleague has said that the WorkSafe Victoria site captivated his teenagers for 30 minutes.
The trick in commenting on any of these websites is that they are only one part, usually, of a larger safety campaign. Blogs don’t allow for a full assessment of the campaign unless the blogger fits the campaign’s demographics and is fed all the campaign stats, data and marketing justifications directly from the regulator.
With this understanding, comments from readers of SafetyAtWorkBlog are greatly appreciated.