Health and Safety in the Workplace

Health and safety in the workplace are serious issues. If people don’t pay attention to safety regulations accidents can happen and people can be injured or even killed. It’s no laughing matter. But it sometimes seems like the people who make instructional safety videos missed the memo because some of these videos are freaking hilarious. Case in point, this video from Germany about the various dangers of ignoring the safety guidelines when operating a forklift.( more info at )

That video doesn’t pull any punches, and from the overdramatic acting and blood spraying effects it appears that it is meant to be humorous. Or Germans are just really into bloodspurts. The thing is though, none of the points it makes are bad points or wrong. Forklifts are dangerous tools, and people can and absolutely do get injured or killed because of safety negligence around forklifts. So why make a funny video about it? Universities don’t make funny videos about women getting assaulted on dark trails at night. They give lectures intended to horrify their students into shivering under the covers by 8pm rape whistle at the ready. But in traditional health and safety training the funny videos keep piling up.

This video, like the German forklift murderfest above, uses humor to get the point across that working on a construction site is dangerous. It’s the Dumb Ways to Die of workplace safety. Only, it uses actual dumb ways that people actually die to try to remind you to strap on the safety harness when welding on the 31st floor. The ridiculous thing about these videos is how absolutely horrific the funny parts really are. If the situations both of these portray were real you wouldn’t be able to watch this video. How many people had to leave the room when watching Red Asphalt in Driver’s Ed? The deaths in these videos are no less gruesome, but they’re showcased as hilarious situations that you’d probably want to avoid in real life.

Of course, not all safety videos are so popcorn worthy. Take a look at this video from Australia on The 10 Commandments of Workplace Safety.

The points it makes are valid, and it does actually show some real, bloody workplace injuries. It’s so boring though it’s hard to watch all three minutes, and this is just the shortened version. It almost seems specifically designed to tune you out. Quick, name the seventh workplace safety commandment. Can you? Do you even remember the first? If you had to take a quiz on this about 98% of you would probably fail. So does the humor help? After watching a funny video are you more likely to strap on your harness? Maybe. I can tell you that when I worked in a warehouse we violated every single rule put forward in that German forklift safety video, and if I went back to that warehouse and showed those guys the video they’d crack a few ribs laughing then go right back to violating all the safety regulations. But I can also tell you they’ll remember that video to their dying day, while the 10 Commandments will be forgotten by lunch. So are funny safety videos more effective? Probably. At the very least they make workplace orientation less of a drag, and I think that’s a cause we can all get behind.