Industrial Safety Can Be Funny!
By: Thomas Yoon
Safety in the industrial environment is challenging.
How much money do you have to spend to purchase safety protective equipment to
prevent accidents? Try asking yourself how much it will cost you whenever an
accident happens - loss of life, loss of work and productivity, insurance
claims, material damage, and not counting those extra hours writing reports...
Accidents are not cheap. In fact, they can be very, very expensive!
And ironically, most accidents are caused by people! And it is not easy to get
people to follow what you want them to do. Everybody has a free will and they
How useful are your protective equipment if your workers are not using them? How
do you ensure that your workers remember safety guidelines and avoid dangerous
practices? Or observe good safety practices when nobody supervises them?
Somehow, people need to get it into their subconscious mind to want to follow
safety rules and regulations. If not it will be an uphill task for the safety
practitioner. Do they have to wield the big stick like a policeman and play a
cat-and-mouse game all the time?
Safety awareness is the key to controlling accidents. Safety awareness is
critical in any construction site. So many dangerous activities are happening at
the same time. It only takes one unsafe act to bring your safety record plunging
What is the best way to deliver your safety message?
Interestingly, researchers have found that people remember 50% more in what they
see than in what they hear. Visuals get people's attention. Advertising people
know about this. The many images on billboards, magazines, newspapers or even on
the internet are testimonies that visuals do attract people and advertising
using visuals are so effective.
Humor in posters brings good feelings and makes ideas more memorable and
receptive. This again has a lot to do with the working of the mind. Pleasant
thoughts generate more receptive learning. Have you ever tried studying for an
exam when you have ugly thoughts disturbing your mind?
Humor effectively drives a point that is so easy to understand when done
correctly. Accident situations cannot be photographed. Only stuntmen are crazy
enough to do things that can result in accidents. Cartoons can be effectively
used to illustrate dangerous situations which might be impossible to capture on
film in real life.
What do you mean by done correctly? Well, in any graphic design, there must be a
certain composition that makes a picture stand out. It's what makes people stop
and stare. It's the difference between a prize-winning visual and a mediocre
Composition is simply the arrangement of the subject matter within the confines
of a picture space. It's not just a matter of putting the main focus in the
center. The arrangement of other components of a picture will lead the eye of
the beholder to the center of interest. Through composition, a picture is
unified into a well-balanced and pleasing design.
There are many techniques for arranging subjects to create attractive graphics.
Some of the well known ones are: the S-shape, L-shape, three spot composition,
tunnel, silhouette, golden mean, radiating line and many others.
Another way to capture interest is by the use of colors or lack of it. Strong
reds will stand out in a green background. Skilful matching of colors can enable
pictures to stand out, and make people take notice.
In safety communication, the safety slogan must also be eye-catching. After all,
that is the safety message that you want to deliver to people. To be successful,
the words must stand out above the rest.
The successful safety poster first captures people's attention with the graphics
and the color. Next, it lets them enjoy the images to relax their mood. Finally,
it presents the safety slogan or message for the finale.
If done well, people will remember the messages in safety posters for a long,
long time. And when a similar situation occurs during their work, the vivid
graphic comes back to their minds, perhaps causing them to smile knowingly for
what to avoid. They have seen the consequences and they will avoid putting
themselves in that similar accident-prone situation.
Does it make sense then to use eye-catching cartoon graphics to influence safety
behavior in people? I think it might work when we expose people sufficiently
over a long period of time. The messages must sink into their subconscious mind
so that it becomes second nature to them.
There had been a lot of propaganda graphics created during the world wars and
also during political campaigns. Many of them used cartoons to influence the
thinking of the masses. People in advertisement use a lot of graphics - all for
one purpose - to influence people's impression or buying behavior.
Truly, cartoon posters with the proper messages can influence people's behavior.
That should be good news to safety professionals. It's a tool with a lot of
If you are involved with safety, where can you obtain suitable safety posters
that are both cheap and good, where you can store in your computer, and print at
any time you want? You might find the 50 downloadable poster images contained in
the e-book "Construction
Safety with Mabuk" very useful. Safety posters can be printed on any normal
printer straight from the computer anytime. It's so convenient and practical.
Prevention of accidents is certainly better than cure. It's so much cheaper too.
It's so funny!
Until next time…
Natural love scents arouse the senses.
Many years of working experience in Marine, Facilities,
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