One of the biggest misconceptions about safety is that it is boring, says Richard Hawk, a safety professional and motivational speaker and trainer.
You’ve got to think of safety as being hip and modern,” he says, adding that supervisors and safety directors delivering safety training should think about how a powerful marketing company would deal with the topic.
For example, some people would consider insurance to be a pretty dry topic, yet brilliant marketing campaigns featuring talking animals, “Mayhem” and other amusing characters leave a positive, lasting impression of the companies they are representing.
Hawk encourages managers responsible for safety training to use their imaginations and “find an icon that represents how you want your safety program to feel.”
A second misconception many people have about safety is that logic drives human behavior. In fact, Hawk says human behavior is driven almost exclusively by people’s emotions.
Accidents and incidents often occur as a result of workers not properly handling their emotions—for example anger over a situation, frustration, anxiety or rushing on the job.
A third misconception about safety is that it is serious business and “fun” should have no part in it. But Hawk views fun not as play, but as “energetic enjoyment, and when people enjoy what they are doing they perform better.”
“There’s nothing typically moving about information. It doesn’t drive how a person will act, react or what they’ll do,” he says.
However, if information is delivered in a way that stimulates a worker’s senses and emotions, it will be far more effective.
Hawk urges supervisors to use their imaginations to capture the senses of workers during training sessions. Even something like rearranging a room, putting an unusual prop on a table or having a picture of a monster on a screen to represent a hazard can grab people’s attention.
“Emotions rule. What are we doing to stimulate emotions? You want to include in your safety and health program things that smell, taste and are colorful, just like Geico does.”
Hawk says effective safety training is:
Fun and enjoyable for participants, Memorable (workers don’t forget important information because of the engaging way in which it was delivered) and Practical in a way that is beneficial.
He offers the following six tips for reducing worker apathy about health and safety:
Make employees famous: People want attention. Do things that will bring out people so they become famous for different things at work. Use marketing that touches people: Make it about them and their lives and not about rules and regulations. Stimulate the senses: Use music, color and stories. Create real competitions: Have groups take part in “Safety Olympics” through skits they create, using characters they’ve developed, or create quiz competitions with prizes. Create a theme: Change it periodically so people will stay interested. For ideas, conduct an Internet search for safety or health images (pictures). Go beyond hardhats: For example, one company Hawk worked with held a walking for trees event where the company donated trees to the community based on how many miles workers walked. Talk to your workers about issues that affect people, including wellness, keeping calm behind the wheel, etc.