In a recent online discussion with safety professionals from around the world, we discussed what types of visuals they use during their safety presentation training.
These visuals fell into a few different categories:
- Shock photos (that often include death and lots of blood, to 'scare' workers into being safe),
- Incorrect safety photos (that showed staff doing the wrong things),
- Correct safety procedure photos (that show the right behaviour), and
- Happy families and people (to show that being safe leads to a happy future).
Any of these types of photos can work. The only exception was that the group felt that showing incorrect safety procedures can be a sensitive issue in companies and was not recommended.
The reasons why these types of photos work can be found in the book Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath. It was stated that when people make choices they rely on two basic models - consequences and identity.
Should I or Shouldn't I?
The consequences model is well known among economic students.
It assumes that when we have a decision to make, we weigh the costs and benefits of our options and make the choice that increases our satisfaction. It's a very rational and analytical approach. It's all about choosing the option that gives us the best value.
This is when we use photos that "shock" the person into safety by showing the result of an accident that could happen to them. It tries to appeal to their self-interest. Or we show the right way of doing a procedure.
With the identity model, however, people make decisions based on what they believe the person who they are would make the decision. They ask themselves "what would someone like me do in this kind of situation?"
With identity, this is getting people to think about a decision in terms of how it effects them through their group association. So it's getting people to make decisions about about person they aspire to be (or who they already believe they are and how that person would make the decision (group affiliation includes race, religion, gender, class, occupation and countless other groups). For example: scientists would make decisions on how a scientist is meant to make decisions by gathering lots of facts and making an objective decision). This is when you show people what they want to be (ie: safe and happy families) according to which group they believe they belong to.
Encouraging group identity is important for any company. It's all about your culture and getting your staff to align with your core values. Consider fostering a group identity that encourages looking after your mates, being a safe worker or doing things in a way that only special people can that work for your company (eg: IBMers have their own name and use their core values when making decisions). Then, you can use visuals that match group identity.
Which type of visuals do you like to use in your safety communication?